Nothing to fear but fear itself

Mike Tuffrey seeks inspiration from Roosevelt in advocating a four point plan for a sustainable economic recovery.

With all the depressing news about the economy, I can recommend a re-reading of the inaugural address of newly-elected President Franklin D Roosevelt, given in the depths of the Depression on March 4, 1933. Aside from his well-known call to arms against fear itself, he did a nice (and topical) line in banker-bashing too: “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men”.

Elements of his prescription are highly relevant for us today – us as a country and us as a party. Last month I argued we need a new distinct alternative economic strategy, for jobs and business growth, not just fiscal responsibility.

Since then, the noises from our team in Westminster have been encouraging, though we are a long way from positioning the party with our own ‘sustainable growth’ approach as part of rebuilding the LibDem ‘brand’. This is vitally important at the half-way mark of this Parliament. The focus on getting the low paid out of tax and opposing NHS privatisation is good but not enough.

To advance thinking, I’ve developed a ‘four plus two’ plan as a contribution to a debate (run by London Remade) about what a sustainable economy looks like regionally. It hardly needs saying that the situation is urgent and growing: almost 400,000 Londoners – one in ten, the second highest in the whole country – are unemployed and seeking work.

First are four main pillars for immediate results:

  • Housebuilding – a big programme on land that is in public ownership
  • Skills for young people – including a role for responsible large firms
  • Local jobs and business – especially in the new environmentally-sound industries
  • Fair wages – since trickle-down economics can’t be relied on

To these four, I have added two longer term goals – zero carbon and zero waste. Taken together, this would get Londoners to work, improve their housing, health and environment, encourage local business, and give our economy and society much greater resilience.

You can read more about the plan ‘Nothing to fear but fear itself’ here and more about the London Remade debate here.

This article first appeared in LibDemVoice

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