A Social Democratic Future went live in September 2009 with the professed aim to offer a forum for those, regardless of party affiliation or of none, who want to contribute to a new politics, marked by social democratic values guiding strategic policy development, rather than relying upon tactical interventions geared to the short-term control of news agenda. It noted that the latter defined the political methodology of new Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and that its continuing application risked becoming the death knell of Labour as a creative political force.
The contours of British politics have, however, changed beyond recognition in the tumultuous times that have since passed. Most recently, the June 2017 election of a hung parliament left Jeremy Corbyn within striking distance of 10 Downing Street.
The core guiding values of A Social Democratic Future remain unchanged, however. Policy development and choices need to be driven by, and assessed against, the primary social democratic yardstick: expanding lifetime opportunities for low and middle-income households, particularly the poor and disadvantaged.
Sustainable and efficient economic growth, balanced in its distributional composition, is a vital, but not sufficient, condition for securing progress against that yardstick. Value-based strategic and sustainable policy development, rather than populist gestures, is required, as well.
Social democratic progress, certainly, cannot simply wait for, or rely upon, the re-election of a Labour government. In order to change the political parameters of feasible action on a sustainable basis, an incoming government needs its successors to continue along the strategic tramlines that it intends to set during its term of office.
An overlapping and sustainable technical and political consensus, albeit often implicit, that can advance social democratic values and the national interest by helping to build up a head of steam, supportive of not only future electoral success, but the achievement of sustainable policy outcomes both during its term of office and subsequently.
A Social Democratic Future is focused on a political future set by such realities and imperatives. Its prime purpose is to contribute to the identification and development of policy that is best able to secure such sustainable social democratic ends.
A balanced employment-creating economy re-balanced towards investment rather than consumption, that is consistent with the compression of inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity. The provision of universal core public services at high quality and at sustainable cost. The development of a housing system that contributes to sustainable growth rather than boom-bust, that actually delivers affordable housing to the young and those of moderate means, rather than windfall gains to the established.
All these central and related core social democratic ends need to be integrated within feasible and mutually supportive overarching policy frameworks. One linking the wider economy and the housing and public expenditure systems, is set out in Widerhousingends.
A 2018 Housing Policy Series will aim to relate strategic housing policy development to these wider housing ends.
Investing in productive infrastructure sets out a summary case for strategic reforms to the UK public expenditure planning and management system better designed to secure a level of public investment that in quantum, selection, and delivery consistent with the future requirements of the modern UK economy as a part of that same wider housing ends agenda.
Time for a social democratic surge connects the supersession of post war social democracy by neo-liberalism to the Great Financial Crash (GFC) and the prolonged period of recession and stagnation that followed. Subsequently the intellectual pendulum has tilted away from neo-liberalism and back towards social democracy. That provides an opportunity to put in place a modern macro-economic framework more customised to the UK's particular institutional characteristics that is better equipped to achieve both economic efficiency and social fairness. The Thatcher and Reagan governments in the eighties exploited the failures and limitations of social democratic Keynesianism in order to advance their own politically-coloured versions of neo-liberalism. Now is the time to harness the opportunity to similarly re-engineer a shift back time to more egalitarian ends, but this time according to more inclusive social democratic values and evidence-driven methods for the benefit of the majority, rather than the few. will focus on the identification of specific proposals to match the need and demand for quality public services and their associated funding requirements. The cumulative underfunding of the NHS and adult social care, provide the most pressing drivers for the achievement of progress towards that particular objective.
Future needed reform will need to be pursued within a context set by brexit-linked uncertainty that threatens to shroud the UK’s future economic prospects, putting further pressure on the public finances that a fragile conservative minority administration is struggling to juggle.
With respect to brexit, A Social Democratic Future subscribes to the common sense case that the UK needs at least to retain de facto continuing membership of the european customs union and single market, at least until alternative and sustainable arrangements can be demonstably put in place that will not weaken its stagnated economy and related public finances further.
The ratification, or otherwise the terms by which the UK will exit the UK should be considered and voted upon by Parliament at some point in 2018. Meanwhile A Social Democratic Future will endeavour to keep abreast of, and illuminate, the emerging complex issues and choices thrown up in the Stage 2 negotiations in brexit category posts.