‘Reeves’ securonomics is more than a slogan – and more radical than it looks’

Nathan Boroda

When Rachel Reeves delivered her Mais lecture last night, it certainly evoked memories of Gordon Brown’s balance of being both reassuring and radical – although thankfully with fewer references to post neoclassical endogenous growth theory.

Shadow Chancellors are always walking a tightrope of balancing the radical policies needed to build a fairer country and the credibility needed to do so in turbulent economic times.

But while the 1990s and 2000s were marked by non inflationary constant growth and the tune of ‘Things Can Only Get Better,’ the 2020s and ’30s will be far more challenging. Responding to global instability, climate change and the rapid advance of technology are just some of the things on the in-tray of the next government.

Because of the declining trust in politics with Partygate, Truss and Rishi’s recession, voters in my ward in Bury and across the country are increasingly sceptical of attempts to sell them transformative change but want their lives to be a little easier and their finances more secure. That is exactly what Reeves’ Mais lecture outlined, with a strong commitment to an OBR fiscal lock, a sharp change from the vandalism of the Truss era.

But this is not stability for stability’s sake. It is the bedrock on which Labour’s ambitious economic plans are built.

“Securonomics” might seem like yet another slogan, but if realised it will be the transformative programme to raise the living standards of Brits, protect our planet and renew our public services.

Expanding the size of the pie

Reeves’ speech was ultimately about the centrality of growth. It has been somewhat fashionable to suggest that growth is unimportant. Or even that we should pursue a policy of de-growth. Although growth at all costs is clearly flawed, it is simply wrong to ignore it as the Conservatives have for fourteen years. Growth is the way to expand the size of the pie, raising the living standards of working people and providing the revenue our public services so desperately need.

Enhancing the role of the Treasury’s Growth Unit is exactly that. While successive Tory Chancellors have wiped thousands off the pay packets of people across Britain through their dismal record on growth, this announcement shows Labour are serious about growing the economy. This machinery change might seem ephemeral, but we know that getting this right really matters. This credible and radical change is a contrast to both Osborne and Hammond’s orthodox approach that saw growth stagnate and the reckless Truss and Kwarteng plan to undermine the Treasury completely.

The reason why securonomics is a far more substantive growth plan than any previous plans of the last fourteen years is that it recognises economics is not about spreadsheets and graphs but about people. Embracing the modern supply reforms pioneered by US finance secretary Janet Yellen, Reeves recognises that growing the economy is about unleashing the potential of every part of our country with ‘modern supply side’ reforms, from tackling child poverty to reducing the moral scandal of health inequalities.

Workers’ rights programme is Labour’s growth programme

As part of this, Reeves castigated the rampant inequality overseen by the Thatcher-Lawson government, with a programme that diminished living standards across the North, Midlands and South West, as I have seen first hand as a councillor in Bury. The speech recognised the crucial insight that high growth and low inequalities are not two competing goals but, thankfully, two sides of the same coin.

This is why there is no sense whatsoever that Labour will reduce the ambition of the ‘New Deal for Working People’ plan – the biggest transfer of power to workers in our history. Coupled with greater devolution of skills, Labour’s workers’ rights programme is its growth programme.

In this age of insecurity, the importance of a strategic state could not be clearer. This was central to Reeves’ repudiation of the Chancellor’s narrow minded decision to limit the focus that the Bank of England places on measures to tackle net zero.

By growing the size of the pie, we grow the productive capacity of the economy and save the planet. Labour’s plans for clean energy by 2030, including through publicly owned GB Energy, remain incredibly ambitious.

So as we embark on a long and tiring election campaign, let nobody tell you that there is no difference between Labour and the Tories; Reeves’ speech showed the contrast between her credible and radical plan and yet more lacklustre Tory platitudes.

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