David Coates replies to Wyn Grant and Terrence Casey, who posted comments on the original piece here.
Dear Wyn and Terry
I entirely agree with Terry that we need to specify a clear alternative. My own argument, of course, is that the creation of that alternative is the key task now facing those of us committed to successful center-left politics. So three additional thoughts
l. To Wyn. Your pessimism may be justified but I hope it isn’t. I take comfort from the fact that new projects take time to create and to implement: the 1930s before Keynesianism, the 1970s before Reagan/Thatcher. I hope we can move more quickly – we don’t want a lost decade – but I fear we are in one.
2 To Terry. I have tried to map my sense of the broad character of that new strategy in earlier writings – the article on “Escaping the Debt,” the last sections of Prolonged Labour and of Making the Progressive Case: always arguing for a new social contract (coming out of Keynesian rather than neo-liberal policies) built on greater equality, a stronger welfare net, a fairer work-life balance, a strengthened manufacturing sector built by active industrial policy, new trade rules and trade union rights. But my views don’t matter. It’s the package that does. There are lots of ideas out there, and they all need serious review.
3. Which suggests to me a task for the next BPG one-day conference: to focus on just these issues, bringing academics and think-tank people from the US (Center for American Progress, EPI) and their equivalents from the UK (SPERI and Hull at the very least) together. Some of the latter may by mid-2015 be advising a new Labour government. I hope so. If so, the timing would be perfect.
Lots to talk about in Washington when we meet!
Best wishes as always