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Toward a Progressive Economic Agenda

Past policy failures and unmet populist promises represent an opportunity for progressive leaders. But to win power, they must articulate a coherent alternative economic-policy program, focusing not only on redistribution but also on wealth and value creation.

LONDON – With much of the world facing unavoidable health, energy, cost-of-living, and climate challenges, progressive political leaders have an opportunity to articulate a meaningful alternative to traditional economic policymaking. That requires conveying a bold and coherent vision for how to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.

At the UK Labour Party’s annual conference last week, party leader Keir Starmer spelled out his own ambitions to turn Britain into a “green growth superpower” capable of creating new jobs, industries, and technologies. Having spoken with the Labour Party about putting green concerns at the heart of the United Kingdom’s industrial transformation, I am delighted to see Starmer channeling the kind of ambition that is needed. Progressive leaders around the world should take note.

Labour’s vision stands in stark contrast to the hackneyed 1980s-style package of disastrous “trickle-down” tax cuts, policies to reduce worker power (even more!), and enterprise zones that Prime Minister Liz Truss’s government has just announced. While the Conservative gamble with fiscal stability has now forced the government to execute a major U-turn on the proposed tax cuts for the highest income earners, little is being said about the public investments – in areas like infrastructure, innovation, and education – needed to drive economic growth. On the contrary, the tax cuts will increase public debt, causing the government to cut the much-needed investment.