On the wall of Preston council leader Matthew Brown’s office is an “Anarchy in the UK” Sex Pistols poster. Having once been a byword for economic stagnation (a planned £700m redevelopment of the city centre collapsed in 2011), the Labour-run Lancashire authority has embraced radicalism. Rather than chasing inward investment from large multinationals, as it previously had, the city council forged an alternative growth model. It championed worker-owned co-operatives, persuaded public sector bodies to “insource” services, became the first living wage employer in the north, founded a not-for-profit energy firm and established a credit union to combat avaricious payday lenders. “We needed to do something that was more resilient but also, crucially, put more democracy and ownership in the Preston economy,” Brown told me when we met one recent morning. The councillor, who identifies with Labour’s Bennite left tradition, observed: … [Read more...] about ConsumerBusinessSpotlightConsumerBusinessSpotlightConsumerBusinessSpotlightConsumerBusinessSpotlightConsumerBusinessSpotlightCorbynism 2.0: the radical ideas shaping Labour’s future
Ubi home banking
Imagine that every week, an extra £100 appeared in your bank account. What do you do? Kick back knowing you don’t have to work so hard, or pay off debt, go back to study, start a new business? How would a little regular income with no strings attached change your life? This is universal basic income, and it has seized the imagination of such strange bedfellows as the shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, and Tesla’s boss, Elon Musk. The gist is this: a fixed sum automatically arrives in your bank account. It is tax-free and not means-tested and how much is given varies — though usually it would replace most social security benefits. In the UK, the Green Party proposed £80 a week. A Swiss crowdfunded UBI trial pays nearly £500 per week. The governments of Finland and Ontario have also tried the idea and a Californian start-up accelerator is carrying out a five-year pilot on it. Where did the idea come from? First is the nagging question of inequality. … [Read more...] about Should the Government start giving us all free money?
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has something in common with the state of Israel: a blind spot called Palestine. For Labour it’s not seeing how support for the Palestinian cause carelessly trips over into anti-Semitic language. For Israel it’s blocking the two state solution which would gain it world approval. Instead it illegally annexes Palestinian land for bloody great housing estates. Labour is a liberal-minded party. Israel is a liberal country, refreshingly open-minded about religion and sexuality. I feel at home in both. Yet Israel gets it wrong in big ways over Gaza, and in cruelly petty ones as I discovered visiting Rawabi, a West Bank new town designed to house 40,000 Palestinians. Israel stopped its completion by not widening a three kilometre sliver of access road it controlled so construction trucks couldn’t get through. Instead of the thriving metropoIis planned it was a ghost town. My frustration with Israel now extends to Labour’s leader who should … [Read more...] about Nelson’s Column: Labour and Israel manage both to get it wrong over Palestine