Britain must be bold – and listen to Gordon Brown in the Covid fight for jobs

Manuel Cortes
© Wikimedia Commons User:Rwendland / CC-BY-SA-4.0

The Tories have spent decades in denial about the power and ability of our state to directly intervene in our economy as a force for good. The catechism of the so-called ‘invisible hand’ of the market has been one of Covid-19’s many victims – and it will be the only one that goes unmourned.

Even some dyed-in-the-wool neoliberals have suddenly discovered the virtues of state intervention to save jobs. It won’t be lost on anyone that Chancellor Rishi Sunak, a former City banker, is now shouting from the rooftops about how many livelihoods he has been able to save by pumping many billions of pounds into our economy.

Sadly, a leopard never changes its spots – so the Tories are quickly reverting to type. In doing so, they will be condemning millions of our citizens to the growing dole queue. But our people now know, if they ever doubted it in the first place, that an interventionist state can – and should be there to – protect them from joining the ranks of the unemployed.

It will also not be lost on our British public that rather than pulling the plug on measures to save jobs, our European neighbours – France, Germany and Spain to name a few – are extending their job protection measures well into 2021. This is exactly what is needed and what our government should be doing. Instead, we are facing a cliff edge as measures to protect jobs come to an end at the close of this October. It is simply not good enough.

Thankfully, our last Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has stepped into the fray. The launch of his Alliance for Full Employment could not be more timely. Unlike the Tories, he isn’t wedded to their dogmatic nonsense about the free market. He fully understands that now is the right time for bold, large-scale state intervention to protect our jobs, create new ones and through this generate the sustainable economic growth that we so badly need.

Gordon ain’t shying away from making the case for sustained public investment to get us out of the woods. Marrying our economic crisis with our environmental one and finding ways of solving both is the smart and only way to go. Let’s face it – they are completely interlinked.

We need to emerge from this crisis having created the green economy that Britain requires to thrive in the 21st century. But we must also not forget that urgent measures are needed here and now to protect workers in many sectors from losing their livelihoods by not pulling the plug on job retention measures.

We need to be bold. We need to be more like France, Germany and Spain rather than mimic Donald Trump’s United States as many right-wingers in Britain want. I don’t need to tell you this, but the Tories won’t do this freely or easily as it runs against their DNA.

Yet we can force their hand as we have already done. The idea of creating the job retention scheme came from our movement. Let’s all get behind Gordon’s Alliance for Full Employment and knock some sense into the Tories. Winning the fight for our jobs and a new economic settlement will be the defining battle of this decade and beyond.

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