Chuka Umunna and Vince Cable join forces for new think tank

16th February, 2016 4:58 pm

Chuka Umunna

Labour MPs including Chuka Umunna have clubbed together with Tory peers and former Cabinet Minister Sir Vince Cable to launch a think tank covering business and public policy.

The group is a spin-out from Policy Network, which is synonymous with New Labour and whose president is Lord Mandelson.

The new cross-party initiative will be called the Centre for Progressive Capitalism and will hold its formal launch in the City on March 31.

It describes its mission as promoting “support for a more inclusive growth model” and will focus on skills, housing, finance and company governance.

In a sign of how former frontline political figures are taking on new interests in the aftermath of the General Election, the advisory board includes Umunna, the ex-shadow Business Secretary; Cable, his Lib Dem opposite number in government; Lord Cooper, the former director of strategy for David Cameron; and Stephen Green, the Tory peer who previously served as trade minister and, before that, chief executive of HSBC.

Umunna declined to serve in the shadow Cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn while Cable lost his Twickenham seat in the General Election.

The centre joins a crowded space of think tanks seeking to influence public policy. It will be run by Thomas Aubrey, founder of Credit Capital Advisory, a consultant to firms working in credit markets.

Nobody from the centre was available for interview but Aubrey said in an article: “The growing inequality of trust in business reflects an increasingly pervasive view that large sections of society are no longer benefiting from our current economic system.

“If this chasm of trust is to be bridged, business and government need to create a far more democratic and inclusive economy. The failure to tackle this problem is likely to result an increase in the politics of fear…

“An agenda for a progressive capitalism needs to focus on democratising all aspects of the economy including access to technical education, land, capital, while ensuring that a firm’s owners can effectively scrutinise the managers in control for the long run.”

In a statement Policy Network hinted the launch represented a fightback from the middle-ground following the rise of “populist” figures such as Corbyn in Britain or Bernie Sanders in the US.

“The ebbing support for centrist politicians highlights how large sections of society feel they are no longer benefiting from our current economic system. This shift is impacting political systems across the world, with populist figures on both the left and the right making gains in the US and Europe. Without a more comprehensive reform agenda to create a far more democratic and inclusive economy, this trend can only be expected to strengthen and prosper.”

The advisory board also includes Stephen Kinnock, PPS to Angela Eagle, shadow Business Secretary; Baroness Sharon Bowles, a former Lib Dem MEP; and Kay Swinburne, a Tory MEP.

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