Monday, 29 November 2010

Centre for Progressive Economics launch in Belfast

I was invited to speak at the launch of the Centre for Progressive Economics (CPE) at Queen's University in Belfast on Saturday, and I'll post links to some of the papers and my own contribution once they're online.

On the same day of course, south of the border, over 100,000 people marched through Dublin in a huge demonstration against the austerity measures there. If you want to see the impact Osborne's cuts will have there is no better crystal ball than Ireland.

CPE is an excellent initiative, bringing together academics, activists and trade unionists to put forward an alternative to the discredited neo-liberal economics that continues to dominate mainstream discourse. The CPE has similar aims, politics and organisation to LEAP, and I hope LEAP and the CPE will learn from each other and share information and research over the coming months and years.

This is the CPE's introductory statement:

For many, the coalition government’s emergency budget in July 2010 and the Comprehensive Spending Review in October were declarations of war on the welfare state. The cut on corporation tax on profits, whilst increasing VAT and attacking universal benefits are not fiscal decisions but ideological. The relentless propaganda about the budget deficit and the need for deep and quick cuts needs to be portrayed for what it is, a Conservative led attempt to use the economic crisis to break the welfare state and re-shape the economy in the interests of the few. This seminar begins a series motivated by asking the following simple question:

‘why when in politics we do not think it desirable to have ONE theory of how politics and society should be organised, should we accept that there is only ONE theory of economics?’

The Centre for Progressive Economics has been established following discussions between the labour movement and a number of academics in Northern Ireland and beyond. The discussions identified the need for a progressive economic and social analysis to counteract the disappearance of labour and left focused research in third level institutions and its replacement by a neo-liberal orthodoxy. In response an ad hoc labour and progressive think tank has emerged to comprising trade unionists and academics with a broad remit to identify relevant issues for labour and broad progressive politics. The Centre for Progressive Economics seeks to promote a genuine debate within our political, policy and public/media discourse about the ‘economy’ and ‘economics’. ‘Economics’ is not synonymous with the ‘free market’ or ‘neo-classical economic thinking’, and the ‘economy’ is not synonymous with ‘capitalism’. At this time of global economic crisis and the literal bankruptcy and socially negative impacts of ‘business as usual’ economics there is a pressing need for fresh thinking about our economic future. This is an alternative and the Centre for Progressive Economics will seek to provoke debate as to that future in the Northern Ireland regional economy and beyond.

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