|Panel: Xavier Rolet, Clive Cowdray, Mike Rake, |
Frances O'Grady, Barbara Stocking, Liam Byrne, Justin
Justin gave a hard hitting and very theological speech in which he affirmed the fundamental importance of creativity - hence work and making money - as well as gratuitousness, solidarity and subsidiarity. He mentioned God and Jesus a lot (having warned them!) and also emphasised under subsidiarity that it is not just an either/or of Market or State. There is a major role for the voluntary sector for example and there must be a strong awareness of who does what best.
Clive Cowdray pointed out that the link between rising productivity and rising earnings for the lower paid which held since the 1950s first broke down in the US in 2003, then in Canada and then in the UK and Germany at the same time. He didn't draw the natural implication which is that it probably isn't something uniquely bad about the UK system!
Mike Rake emphasised that business is seriously concerned about these issues, not least because public trust in business is very low and only 52% say the business is a force for good. Frances O'Grady said she was encouraged by Davos last year talking about inequality but this year she found a disappointing lack of progress.
Xavier Rolet said he grew up in a sink estate in France and there is enormous entrepreneurial creativity amongst very poor people. We need to make equity more widely available to unlock people's potential. He also brought out the global context, that hundreds of millions of people in China and elsewhere have been taken out of extreme poverty by the market mechanisms.
I do worry a bit that people see this in too much of a parochial context. Indeed other things being equal reducing inequality between nations will inevitably increase inequality within nations. But on the whole it was a very good event and the group is an excellent initiative.