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The Future of the European Left
12/12/2014
Past Events / Videos
Edited video record of the conference held in Budapest on 12th December 2014.

THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN LEFT

International Conference
12th December 2014

Károlyi-Csekonics Rezidencia (1088 Budapest Múzeum utca 17.)
 

WATCH the video record of the conference by clicking HERE or on the link BELOW


9.30 am Donald Sassoon (Queen Mary College, University of London): Where is the Left? 

11.00 am SESSION ONE: Culture: Losing the working class

Most centre left parties in Europe are now dominated by liberal graduates who have a different world view and to some extent different interests to the now diminished working class base of such parties. Indeed, in many countries the left has largely lost what remains of the working class vote. Is the new fault line of politics between a metropolitan liberalism that favours individual autonomy and social/geographical mobility, is happy navigating rapid change and places equality (though not necessarily economic) before fraternity and a populist liberalism that often experiences change as loss, is morally particularist and places fraternity before equality? If so does the left have any answer to this. What about the experience of Blue Labour? Is there a communitarian politics for the left that can bridge the interests of the liberal graduates with the losers of modern society and their continuing attachments to place and group?

Speaker: David Goodhart, Chair of the Advisory Group, Demos Institute

Respondents:

René Cuperus, Director for International Relations and Senior Research Fellow, Wiardi Beckman Foundation

Anthony Painter, author of Left without a future? Social Justice in Anxious Times

Chair: Claire Fox, Director and Founder of the Institute of Ideas

1.00 pm LUNCH

2.15 pm SESSION TWO: Economics: Why isn’t the left winning the argument?

It used to be said that in Britain from the mid-1970s, and somewhat later in the rest of Europe, that the right won the economic argument for markets but the left won the social/cultural argument for equality. Perhaps that should now be reversed. The left is now losing a lot of the social/cultural arguments. At least in Britain it is the right that drives the argument on welfare reform, on education, on immigration. But why is the left not re-winning the argument on economics? We have just experienced the biggest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s! The debate HAS shifted somewhat to the left, there is now much talk of rebalancing economies away from finance and industrial policy and nudging markets is now back in fashion. And yet the left does not seem to be benefitting politically from the post-crisis wariness towards free markets and finance. In macro-economics Labour’s approach to the debt is barely distinguishable from the coalition's and in most of the rest of Europe the left is deeply committed to the Euro so has even less room for macro-economic manoeuvre. The centre left focus has been on how to stem the predatory excesses of the market and create a more patient “good” variant of capitalism—less transactional and short-term, more investment, better training. In other words how can we become more like the German social market. The truth is no one has a clue.

Speaker: Sonia Sodha, Head of Policy and Strategy at the Social Research Unit and a Former Senior Policy Adviser to British Labour Leader Ed Miliband

Respondents:

Allen Simpson, Financial Policy Analyst and Prospective UK Parliamentary Candidate.

Eszter Barbarczy, Budapest-based writer and critic

Chair: Bob Rowthorn, Emeritus Professor University of Cambridge


3.30 pm SESSION THREE: Inequality: Everyone talks about it but no one knows what to do about it

The big increase in inequality of the 1980s in Britain, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in Europe, has not been reversed and in some places has got worse. There is a broad consensus, even including much of the centre-right, that this is socially and even economically damaging. But no one has any good ideas about how to reverse it without risking too much economic damage. The decline of organised labour and the expansion of the global labour force has contributed to a fall in wages in the bottom half of the income spectrum but there is no serious party that wants to reverse globalisation or even re-establish union power. The middle class welfare state could be hacked back but the electoral cost might be high. Meanwhile the left has become as interested in gender and race inequality. So what should the left be doing about income inequality.

Speaker: Matt Cavanagh, former special adviser in the UK Labour Government

Respondent:
Pat Kane, writer, musician and leading campaigner for an independent Scotland

Chair: Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia


5.00 pm A VIEW FROM THE RIGHT: Tim Montgomerie, Columnist, The (London) Times, Founder of ConservativeHome

5.20-6.00 pm GENERAL DISCUSSION AND CONCLUDING COMMENTS
Chair: David Goodhart
 

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