In this new RADIX paper, Sir Norman Lamb – one of the most respected Parliamentarians of recent years who served as a minister in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, as well as the Department for Health – argues that the flaws in our model of capitalism have fueled a growing divide between the owners of capital and everyone else.
“We cannot disconnect the moral and the economic”, he says. “Business should not operate in a moral vacuum.”
He argues that the old assumptions of the left that society can be “taxed into shape” and that creating jobs will automatically alleviate poverty are simply not borne out by experience. Meanwhile, a right wing model based on deregulation and market forces, which ignores the demands of health, environmental sustainability, and a sense of belonging, are equally flawed.
In his paper, Rebooting Capitalism, Lamb sets out a 12-point plan for a new economic settlement based on removing bureaucratic barriers to employee ownership and decentralisation of economic decision-making. His recommendations include:
Using the upcoming decampment from the Palace of Westminster to move the national Parliament to the North of England, separating the UK’s economic and political capitals and building a real Northern Powerhouse.
Devolving power radically, including over setting taxes, to cities and regions, enabling them to determine their own destiny and empowering local innovation.
Streamlining the creation of employee-owned businesses to encourage the transfer of ownership of businesses to their employees.
Setting a new lowest rate of corporation tax, applicable only to those companies which share prosperity equitably with staff
Setting tough new competition rules to challenge concentrations of power and wealth and to drive up wages, drive down prices and improve consumer choice.
Reforming company law to incentivise firms to act as a force for good, recognising a wider purpose than narrow shareholder value.
Lamb describes his paper as “a liberal, progressive vision for defeating the statist left and the populist right.”
Welcoming Lamb’s paper, RADIX Chief Executive, Ben Rich, says:
“Our political thinking has become stultified by out-dated models designed to address the economic circumstances of the mid-20th Century but which have little to offer the challenges of today. The centre and centre-left have been particularly bad at producing new solutions to respond to globalisation, the concentration of power, economic inequality and the climate emergency, let alone beginning to think about the challenges of new technologies. This paper is an important first step to inspiring much needed new thinking.”