Interview with Amartya Sen

This week, I published my argument for Labour’s approach to creating a country of ‘powerful people’. I mentioned that over the last ten years, I have been much influenced by the way I thought about this, by my practical experience trying to regenerate Hodge Hill, and philosophically, by Amartya Sen. Sen’s book, An Idea of Justice, was published this summer, and a few weeks ago I interviewed Prof Sen about his work. You can access an excerpt of the interview below…

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Guarantees not gambles

Some will have seen news in the Guardian and elsewhere today about rights to new services for people with suspected cancer. For those who want more background about the government’s approach to rights, have a look at Working Together  – our strategy for public service reform; World Class Public Services, where we looked at how rights can preserve equity while devolving power. My speech to the CBI sets out some more of the background argument.

Thanks to Big Lottery Fund

Yesterday, we had simply the most extraordinary turn-out for our Big Lottery Fund Awards for All masterclass at the Beaufort Sports & Social. Building a stronger network of social entreprenuers is at the absolute core of Hodge Hill 2020 – our programme for regenerating the constituency. I’ll be posting some of the information we went through and a video report next week, but in the meantime, if you are part of a group in the constituency which wants some help bidding for money, then drop me a line. Also email me if you are doing great things locally – we want to build a stronger network of community activists where everyone knows what’s going on, and how to get involved. Thanks to all who came along – and thanks to Big Lottery Fund for answering my call to come and tell us more!

Jaguar Land Rover

Lots of workers at Jaguar Land Rover live in Hodge Hill, and they’ll be worried about the plans that Jaguar Land Rover announced today.

I rang the directors to discuss their plans this afternoon. Here’s what they said.

Firstly, and most importantly, JLR said that they are absolutely committed to the West Midlands – and want to build ‘significant’ numbers of new cars in the region. I think the firm will need the same number of workers in the region to build all the new models, which is why JLR has said they don’t want to see compulsory redundancies.

Secondly, when I asked whether government was doing everything they could, JLR said yes – and they were especially grateful for the £10 million of government aid to build new models.

I agreed to lobby hard for the kind of automotive research institute that will help keep our industry at the world’s cutting edge. Long term, that’s the way we boost manufacturing jobs, not see them go abroad.

The company must discuss these changes with the trade unions, and I’ll be in touch with them in due course.

I’ll keep you up to date with news as I hear it.

The New Opportunity Economy

Below is the full text of my John Smith Annual Finance Lecture; The New Opportunity Economy. There’s a bit of a trail in the Guardian today. The argument is simple; is we make the right choices now, we can not only rebalance our economy towards investment and exports, but we can open the new jobs that it is possible to create to people from a wider range of backgrounds, tackling the issue of low pay, and redoubling efforts to get people back to work.

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Mr Osborne’s pattern of behaviour

Here’s the link to my rather long Channel 4 interview about George Osborne’s school-boy economics. A transcript of my Sky interview is below.

Basically George Osborne first said there were ‘secret’ tax plans. So secret they were set out in Table 2.9 (page 40) of the Budget’s ‘Economic and Finances’ document, and Table C7 (page 235) of the Red Book.

Then we heard there ‘must be a black hole’ because we projected money from taxes goes up sharply in future years. Of course it does. Partly because we announced tax rises for top earners in the last budget.

Second, because as an economy returns to growth, tax receipts go up – part of a process called ‘fiscal drag’. In a downturn income tax falls sharply – by some £12 billion we estimate. But in a recovery, they bounce back. National Insurance contribution don’t move around so much because they are a flat rate tax.

Conclusion? Either George Osborne doesn’t understand public finance. Or, he’s determined to twist the truth. Neither is a good sign for his future. Sky transcipt below….

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