Red Tory Economics

In a recent interview in The Independent, Phillip Blond, an academic at the University of Cumbria, outlines his version of a ‘more distributist Red Tory economics’.

He explains how the financial crisis we are currently experiencing is the unwinding, and even death of - with the US government’s recent intervention - the neo-liberalism introduced by Reagan and Thatcher – essentially Reaganomics is responsible.

However, within this crisis there is also opportunity – for the Conservatives to show how a new economic deal would not lead to such a financial crisis and facilitate investment in communities where everybody shares in the growth – where wealth is distributed to increase self-sufficiency.

There is a challenge within the Conservative party to undertake analysis of what has gone wrong – for instance why the neo liberal ‘trickle-down’ of wealth has not worked and how wealth is now concentrated in fewer hands than ever before.

There is also the challenge of how Conservatives address this – reviewing ideas about poverty, for instance that poverty is the result of a lack of capital to then invest and transform lives – not just the result of behaviour.

From his critique of New Labour policy and neo-liberal Conservatism, as well as the proposed solutions, Phillip Blond has created an analysis and vision described as ‘Red Tory’. In the interview he says “for me the greatest challenge is how we solve the conflict between capital and labour so that everybody has a chance – through wider shared ownership, decentralisation, mutual funds, co-operatives, for example – to own a little of something”.

The idea is that a new Conservative government would undertake measures to implement this – e.g. allowing small business to survive and so revive local economies – this is not to say that big business would be excluded in any way – they would just need to be better controlled and deliver benefits that are tangible for as many as possible.

It certainly appears as if Conservative leaders are listening and engaging with this radical Conservative thinking – Phillip Blond has been active at the Conservative Party conference, he is working with advisers and shadow ministers as well as writing for Conservative think-tanks.

He is currently writing a book ‘Red Tory’. He has also written a think piece for the forth coming NCVO Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis.

Whatever your political leanings, views on global and domestic economics, or analysis of our current political administration, Phillip Blond raises some very interesting philosophical points in his work with clear practical implications.

The NCVO Third Sector Foresight team has been looking at Conservative polices, their key areas of work and what this might mean for the Voluntary and Community Sector if they were to win a General Election.

Natalie has written a very interesting chapter on national politics for the forthcoming NCVO Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis, looking at a number of these issues.

You can also have a look at some of our new drivers - the Conservative focus on social justice, and policies on rights and responsibilities.

NCVO has produced a briefing on the Conservative green paper, ‘A stronger society, voluntary action in the 21st century’, setting out their initial response. Natalie has also written about this, have a look at her post - What might a Conservative government have in store for the VCS?

What might the impact be of such thinking on the Voluntary and Community Sector and your organisation?

  • How might your organisation respond to and/or be involved in a new economic deal, with an emphasis on the local economy, as illustrated by Philip Blond?
  • What are the implications for your organisation of the proposals set out in the Conservative Green Paper?
  • In what ways might more direct funding to front line organisations, to purchase support they have identified, impact on your organisation?
  • In what ways might Social Enterprise Zones impact on your organisation?
  • Should your organisation consider doing some scenario planning to look at the potential risks and opportunities either a change of government, or continuation of New Labour central control, may bring?
Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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