Now what?

AuthorSutcliffe-Braithwaite, Florence

Progressive Politics After the Crash: Governing from the Left

Edited by Olaf Cramme, Patrick Diamond and Michael McTernan

I.B. TAURUS, 2013

This book is the outcome of sustained collaboration between Policy Network and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) (1). Both draw on extensive links with progressive and centre-left think tanks and thinkers from Europe and North America; the volume therefore has an impressively international reach. It takes as its starting point a problem: the financial crisis that began in 2008 appeared likely to many to undermine support for free markets, but, in the event, led to an even greater backlash against governments. This appeared to benefit not the left, but the right, with its powerful anti-big-state rhetoric. Progressive Politics after the Crash aims to develop an analysis and a set of policies which can re-establish the state as legitimately both powerful and an empowering force. It tries to break the government/market opposition. Both are necessary--but both require recalibration --suggest several contributors; indeed, Will Marshall calls the 'government versus markets' argument 'witless' (p. 135).

Broadly, the contributors to Progressive Politics After the Crash sign up to the assumption that what the left needs is not new values or goals: the traditional ones, perhaps re-energised or tweaked for current circumstances, will suffice. These goals are, in the words of Ernst Setter, Secretary General of the FEPS, 'long-term politics of growth, reform and social stability' (p. xvii).What the analyses within the book aim to supply, therefore, is not a new vision, nor a new analysis of the financial crisis, nor further arguments about the best short-term response to the crisis--as David Miliband puts it in his foreword, it does not aim to rehash debates about 'the need for Keynesian counter-cyclical fiscal policy at a time of balance-sheet recession' (p. xviii). Rather, the book seeks to answer big structural questions and lay foundations for a new governing strategy for the social democratic left. It attempts to come up with strategies and policies. Tactics and presentation--the short-term bread-and-butter of politics--will flow from long-term thinking.[right arrow]

The book is divided into two halves: the first analyses the post-crisis environment, economic, social and political. The second sets out a series of long-term policy responses to the crisis and attempts to show how 'even in...

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