What would a Tory government look like, IPPR and Esther Rantzen

The following paragraph was penned by Polly Toynbee in The Grauniad recently:
“If Labour has been pusillanimous about banks and bonuses, just wait for the new Tory MPs arriving soon. A survey by the Almanac of British Politics finds that a bare Conservative majority will bring in 140 Tory MPs from business, 50 from the City. The greater the Conservative majority, the more City financiers will come in. It’s doubtful they really think we are all in this together. How odd that these will be the beneficiaries of public outrage at bankers’ greed, the debts they caused and the plight we are in.”
Grim or what?
The infatuation that all parties have with the City is very unhealthy and in developing this dramatically unbalanced representation of skills in Westminster the Tories risk a grievous skewing of influence and policy that all of the rest of us will rue most bitterly.
That representatives of the City and business have a place in government goes without saying but what of all the other functions in the nation’s life. Will the Tories attempt to achieve balance with consultants and special advisors? I am reminded of the response given by a prostitute to her client when asked who she was – “Who do you want me to be?” The problem with paid advisors without clearly established regulatory frameworks is that, in pursuit of the next barrow load of public cash, they will do and say and be whatever the government wants them to do or say or be. It called the market or capitalism and is reputed to be a “good thing”.
At some point reality will have to intrude. Capitalism, money and the markets are tools, not gods. As with any tool, if it is misunderstood or misapplied or badly maintained then problems will arise. For so long as politician’s saucer-eyed idolatry of the financial sector and resulting policy automatism persists we will continue the slide into national decline.
It is possible to dethrone Mammon and put the overall welfare of the nation at the head of a government’s concerns. When the City takes its proper place in our society we can all prosper by exploiting it and not vice versa.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (http://www.ippr.org.uk/) is a most useful source of information and ideas. It is well worth looking through their website and bookmarking it.
IPPR North’s new report contains the following item:
The Impact of the Recession on the Northern City Regions, uses detailed analysis of unemployment data to show that, as a general rule, those areas within northern city-regions that were left behind in the boom years have suffered most in the recession. It explains that the northern city regions have been hit by a ‘triple whammy’ effect in the recession:
• Unemployment has increased most in the areas where it was already highest, in part due to the prevalence of low value-added manufacturing in these regions. For example, between March 2008 and September 2009 unemployment has risen by 3.1% and 3.4% in Yorkshire & Humber and the North East respectively but just 2.1% in London.
• Certain housing-led regeneration efforts have been hit hard.
• Some deprived areas would be likely to be badly hurt by future government spending cuts.
• The report stresses that from now on, any reliance on a ‘trickle-down’ approach to regeneration must be questioned, proactive policy-making must happen to ensure that the North returns to growth and that people living in disadvantaged parts of the northern regions, have direct access to economic opportunities and benefits.
Or, more succinctly, God Help the North whichever party wins. This is where an Independent can speak most forcefully. A typical party hack would be ducking and weaving, backing and filling and generally waffling in a desperate attempt to maintain party unity and to obediently toe the party line – promotion depends on it, after all.
Voters in the North cannot look to any of the conventional parties for succour when the going gets tough.
Esther Rantzen, who was at the Independent Network meeting the other day, has, apparently, made the decision to stand as an independent in Luton. Well done her! The media has been keen to run down her prospects, motives and suitability but, having seen her in action at the meeting, she went up in my estimation in leaps and bounds – I wasn’t a fan previously, if we are being honest.
She sat quietly in the meeting until she had some good points to make. She listened attentively. She did not dominate in any way at all and what she said made excellent sense.

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