change citizen Democracy politics WellFair

Making Progressive Politics Work

In an excellent collection of essays the Policy Network has collected together for their “Making Progressive Politics Work” publication, we found the following comments by various authors in support for the fundamental principles that LIFE’s policies are based on.

economics Key Article politics

First new economic model in 100 years

The battle to figure out how to afford the society we want is the political challenge of our generation. Solving that problem reveals the first new economic model in 100 years.

On the one side we have those demanding better social support, and on the other there are those who see the only workable option as NeoLiberal Puritanism. Because it looks unaffordable to have decent social support, one side invents “magic money” to pay for it, and the other side says that we simply can’t afford it. They are both ignoring reality because they don’t see any other option, but there is.

Key Features of the New Economics

  • Universal safety.
  • Distributed democracy.
  • Personal privacy.

Love_PumpInvesting in the infrastructure for universal social safety creates a more dynamic, lower cost economy that is fiscally, socially and environmentally sustainable with low growth.

The recognition that social safety is a parallel requirement for economic success, and the revelation that unconditional safety is both the natural expression of solidarity and the key to liberating economic performance, has unveiled a new economic model for human society that will transform the 21st Century into a new age of enlightened prosperity.

economics Key Article politics WellFair

Conditional Cash Corrupts Us All

Why cash has (almost) no place in a social security system.

Unconditional love is the ultimate expression of our humanity for a reason, because it is the basis of our successful evolution.

The purpose of social security is to provide unconditional support as the expression of solidarity, thereby maximising the output and the quality of our society. Conditionality defeats the central purpose of providing social security, corrupts all participants, and stultifies our society and its economy. Because cash distribution always includes conditionality, it has to be removed from social security.


How to Change the Post-Crash Economy – Review

Last week (6th Mar 2014) the RSA convened an expert panel including Costas Lapavitsas – professor of economics at SOAS, Paul Mason, Culture and Digital editor, Channel 4 News; Mariana Mazzucato RM Phillips professor in the Economics of Innovation at Sussex University; and Seumas Milne, Guardian columnist and author, to discuss the state of the UK economy today.
You can watch a recording of the event at


On the whole the panel offered observations, rather than understandings or remedies. This was disappointing, because if this is the brain trust for our future economic development, then we appear to be seriously short of direction.
Perhaps the most obvious question that remain unaddressed was: Why has financialisation has become so dominant?

The panel was uniform in observing the financialisation of the advanced economies over the last 30 years, but until we face the reason why, we will not be able to see the way forward.

environment politics

What does it mean to be a “green progressive”?

Too often those of us that consider ourselves to be part of the progressive movement, are too easily satisfied by feeling good. Feeling good is part being right, meaning that we feel we are speaking the truth, and part feeling that we are on the correct moral side of an argument.
But progress is a description that includes movement, and surely is really measured in terms of the ability to be effective in moving forward. Feeling good is a stationary state of affairs, the more fundamental question is how do we move forward? If we know the truth and we know the correct moral side of an argument, how do we then move forward to making that a reality? The true measure of a progressive should be the efficacy of the effort to progress.


BBCQT 2014.02.27

Q: Why is RBS paying bonuses, when they have lost money?
A: What happened in the “Great Deregulation”, was that the casino arm of investment banks merged with the normal banking retail arms of high-street banks. They did this so that their casino divisions could make even bigger bets, and to manage those very high risk investments they needed a particular breed of individual, that we have come to know generically as “bankers”. It is these bankers that are getting the bonuses, and the reason that RBS is paying them is because they have a casino division.
What this government has failed to do, in concert with all of the other governments of the Western financialised industrial nations, is that they have failed to rein in these banks and to force them to separate their casino divisions from their retail banking divisions. Till we get a government with the guts to actually make them make these changes, we are stuck with these kinds of ludicrous situations, even in banks that are 80% owned by the public!
Now, we also have to recognise that we are all partly to blame. We shovel £2.5 billion pounds a month into the City in the form of our pensions, and then we ask that these banks keep our money safe, and make it grow until we retire. Until we understand that no amount of money will actually make us guaranteed and secure in our old age, and that we need a proper social security system based on our mutual community, then it is we who are empowering these banks, and we are the ones ultimately who are requesting that these bankers look after us.
Q: Should the deals made with the IRA still provide immunity for terrorists?
A: We do not have all the facts, so it is impossible for us to determine whether or not these were deals, whether they do provide immunity, or whether they were necessary at the time to achieve progress towards peace. I hope that the enquiry will give us all more clarity on this in due course.
Q: Is it not time that Harriet Harman came out and apologised for her links with the paedophile information exchange?
A: I think she already did; if she hasn’t, she should have.
Q: Has Britain lost control of its borders?
A: No, that’s why we know how much migration there is. 
We are part of Europe, and that is good thing. 
What we have lost control of our spending, particularly as it concerns local infrastructure, especially social infrastructure like schools and housing, and what we need to do is to return control, in fact to give more control than we have done for over 100 years, back to our local communities so that they can adjust their spending and infrastructure investments to meet the needs of their local populations.
Welsh NHS: the whole point of a regional assembly is that you hold them responsible – get out there and vote them out of office, if they are doing such a poor job! You can’t have your tribal loyalties and a vibrant democracy. People died to get you your vote, use it!


budget ConDem debt politics problems

UK policy: trapped behind the yield curve

If you want to understand why all of the major UK political parties are committing to essentially the same fiscal strategy, i.e. reducing borrowing to zero by the end of the next parliament, then you’re going to have to understand what the “yield curve” is.

yield curveThe “yield curve” is a line drawn on a graph connecting the different interest rates that the government has to pay to borrow money over different periods of time. For the UK this is quite a steep curve, because our short-term interest rates are much lower than our long-term interest rates. To borrow money for two years at a time we pay about 0.5% a year, but to borrow money for 10 years we would have to pay around 2.8% per year. That means we have to pay five times more in interest if we want to borrow money that we will repay in 10 years from now, compared to money that we borrow and say will we will repay in 2 years from now.

Fairly obviously, as a result of this steep yield curve, the UK Treasury benefits from shifting its borrowing to much shorter term “gilts” (average gilt maturity has shortened by 5 years in the last 4 years, from 14 years in 2010 to 9 years today – see table below), because it is so much cheaper to borrow money over the shorter period. The logic is that if we are unable to repay that debt at the end of the shorter term, then we simply issue new short-term debt (gilts) and use that money to pay off the previous gilts.

Understanding2So why are the U.K.’s interest rates to borrow money over the short term so much lower than they are over the long term? The reason is because, over a two year time horizon, lenders have a fairly high degree of certainty that the existing government policy will be enacted, and budgets met. But given the size of the overall fiscal problems for the UK government (we have a very high ratio of debt to GDP, and we have a higher level of annual borrowing to meet current spending, at about 6% of GDP, which is twice the limit set on Eurozone countries’ maximum borrowing), lenders have a much lower degree of confidence about how the UK is going to eventually bring its fiscal situation under control.

When lending money to the UK for just two years, lenders only have to evaluate whether the current set of tinkering measures will or will not be implemented, and they don’t have to care about whether the long term situation will be resolved or not.

budget economics Key Article problems WellFair

Why WellFair Works Fair

The welfare debate has become confused and poisonous. We are firmly in the territory of “deserving” versus “undeserving” poor, when the real issue is affordability. As all advanced societies start to grapple with the challenge of how to run a peaceful, modern society within the confines of a low growth economy and within a sustainable budget, we need to develop a vision for how social security will work in that environment.

It is commonly recognised that the delta between income and the cost of living is the problem, but reducing the cost of living is virtually never discussed as an option to solve this problem. This is a blind spot obscuring the key to sustainable and affordable human society.

Solving the welfare conundrum has been a central mission of LIFE. So here we will review what we are really seeking to achieve with welfare, what has gone wrong, and how we can reach our objectives.


BBCQT 2014.02.13

Q: why does it take flooding in the Thames Valley before the Westminster village wakes up to a problem?

A: because we don’t have a functional democratic system in this country. What we need is more devolved power and control and money. If that had been in place we would’ve had more effective local planning and regional planning for exactly these kinds of events, and the ability for us all to make the appropriate decisions for ourselves in our local communities and regions, instead of being dependent on and waiting for the attention of Westminster.


BBCQT 2014.02.06

Q: Should people accused of rape be given anonymity prior to charge or conviction?

A: Same rules should apply as other cases, before charge yes but after charge and before conviction the judge should make a decision about what is necessary to ensure a fair trial. This is a matter for the judiciary and the legal system to define. 


Q: How can State schools be the same as private schools with half the funding and twice the pupils?

A: Under those conditions, of course they can’t. The problem is not how much rich people are prepared to spend on their children’s education, the issue is what we as a society are prepared to invest in the education of our young. Our state system has the ability to deliver a better education at a lower cost per pupil, but we need to stop meddling from Westminster in how our schools are run.