How can Labour win the argument on Europe?

For democratic socialists to win the argument on Europe, they must first acknowledge the EU’s dual character. On one hand, Europe is a force for international co-operation and human rights, yet on the other it is business-centric bureaucracy that forces austerity on poorest and most vulnerable. The challenge for the left it is to be able to criticize the economic and political structures in the EU without playing into the hands of the nationalists. Nationalist groups, including UKIP and France’s Front Nationale, want to leave the EU or abolish it all together, however right-wing nationalists would also happily reinstate the  same exploitative top-down structures within their respective countries. Obviously this type of international devolution would go completely against the principals of most progressives, equally however – should the democratic left sit back while the European Union forces abhorrent measures of wage depression and austerity on the working class?

France’s Socialist Party, the British Labour Party and Germany’s SDP, need to push for a progressive reformat of the European Union. The concept of the current European Bank, and its commitment to fiscally conservative monetarism, needs to be challenged without putting into question the fundamental concept of European internationalism. In its current state, all EU countries need to comply with austerity measures – if not, they won’t be able to compete with core countries such as Germany that have purposefully depressed the wages of their workforces. The richer EU nations, by artificially restricting the wages of their workers, have put a handicap on the economic viability of countries such as Greece, Italy and Portugal – which have accumulated huge amounts of sovereign debt as they cannot compete with the austerity programs of Germany, France and the UK.

This situation is manifestly untenable. It brings unemployment, destroys productive capacity and spreads hopelessness across Europe. In Greece conditions went beyond absurd long ago. As the eurozone moves deeper into recession in 2013, social and economic tensions will ratchet up across the continent. The most difficult phase of the crisis is still ahead of us. - Costas Lapavitsas, Professor of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

This race to the bottom, as Ed Miliband would put it, is fueling nationalist spirit. The wider European left needs to start putting pressure on the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the current situation of mass unemployment and deprivation – caused primarily by the austerity programs implemented by conservative politicians in Germany. Universally, wages need to start rising. This can be done through nationalisation of big industries, promoting small business and providing government-backed specialist training programs free of charge to the unemployed. Socially, the answer to the current crisis of unemployment is to start building opportunities for those out of work. Unfortunately for the conservative forces of Europe, building such opportunities will require investment from governments. Admittedly, the sovereign debt issues won’t miraculously disappear if governments start spending more money  - but the longer-term benefits are well understood by most progressive academics. Europe needs to start taxing big business, especially monolithic corporations such as Amazon and Google, in order to start building opportunities for the impoverished. By enforcing a higher and more progressive taxation on the wealthiest, the EU would be lifting the burden of government debt from the impoverished. Putting an end to austerity and investing in the young will almost certainly kickstart a new wave of continental growth and prosperity – a flavour of economic growth that can be felt by everybody.

British railway

Renationalisation will guarantee success for Labour in next year’s election.

Labour activists, while pleased with the steps taken toward rail renationalisation, have ultimately been left baffled by the decision of Labour’s leaders to compromise with calls for the complete nationalisation of British railways. After discussions with union leaders and representatives from the grassroots labour movement, the party’s leaders opted for a new law that would see the creation of a new state-ran rail company to compete alongside private firms; intending to increase competition and fix yet another one of Britain’s broken markets.

Ed Miliband’s proposals of market reform offers a refreshing alternative to the laissez-faire consensus, however many will argue that Labour’s policies lack the radicalism needed to end the exploitation of both consumers and employees within an increasingly unequal British economy. Even if state firms are able to compete against their private counterparts, our railways would still be ran with business sense (i.e a constant need to make profit) instead of operating as a public service (i.e for the needs of the taxpayer). Investment in our rail infrastructure will only keep coming if the market conditions are right, and it is therefore impossible to guarantee a sustainable future for a transport service that over 3 million people rely on each day.

renationalisation, rising faresLike the NHS, British Rail was a valued public service that delivered to meet the needs of the public. Since the privatisation of rail, fares have risen almost year on year above the rate of inflation. It is easy to justify why your energy bills might have gone up (the rising cost of fossil fuels), however there are few credible explanations for why fares are outpacing inflation. The failure of the privatised model to deliver cheaper services to the British people has contributed to the rising cost of living and has (for over 3 million people) made the daily commute to work significantly more expensive.

The economic drawbacks of higher fare prices should be reason enough to bring our rails back under state control, yet Labour are still too hesitant to even to talk about abolishing the privatised model. Unfortunately, Ed Miliband is failing to deliver the Thatcherite revolution in reverse that many of his supporters were hoping for; the compromise on rail is just another example of this. Whether this political timidness stems from Miliband himself, or senior Blairites such as Peter Mandelson, remains under question.

Ironically, the same fear of sending Labour back into the electoral pitt of the 1980s is stopping party from making much needed gains before the next general election in 2015. British people, from all walks of life (including Conservatives) support railway renationsaliation – 60% of people in the UK want to see a return to the public model [YouGov poll]. Naturally, the vast majority of Labour supporters would also support renationalisation. Again, nationalised railways have support from both the general public and activists within the labour movement, giving Labour leaders little electoral justification for their decision to compromise with unions over the policy.

Britain wants renationalisation, but will the next government deliver? If that government happens to be Tory, we will only ever see an acceleration of privatisation, however a Labour government can only be guaranteed if the party chooses to embrace the policies chosen by the public.

Britain needs new social housing schemes to end the scandal of private rentals.

graph.004In a country with an economy increasingly defined by its housing market, we need to start asking ourselves who are the main benefactors of rising house prices over the last three decades? At least, this is the question Mark Carney needs to answer when tackling our re-emerging housing bubble. While rising property values might put smiles on the faces of Britain’s suburban middle class, higher prices mean higher rents for Britain’s working majority. Furthermore, lower income families will find it almost impossible to get onto the housing ladder – forcing them into privately rented property (that, in most cases, will work out to be more expensive than the cost of a mortage). Without the option of social housing, super-rich landlords hold the monopoly on all almost all properties being provided for working class families in most parts of the country.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people renting their homes has increased from 6.7m in 2006 to 8.3m in 2011. Interestingly, the ONS attributes this huge growth in private rentals to the fact that house prices are rising faster than wages. This factor, combined with the harshest welfare cuts in British history, has meant home ownership has become something reserved solely for the middle class.

For monetarists such as Mark Carney, the answer to Britain’s housing bubble is to raise interest rates and use their tools to ‘cool off’ the housing market. However, further data from the ONS suggests the number of people borrowing to buy houses has fallen since 2006 – if the number of people taking out mortgages to buy houses has fallen, why have house prices risen?

This evidence tells us that increasing demand for housing is not a consequence of more people jumping onto the housing ladder, but rather a result of existing property owners purchasing more houses. Such people might include foreign investors who’re looking to profit from UK asset bubbles, as well as the growing number of landlords wanting to buy up more property with the intention of expanding their rental empires. I’d argue that both ‘types of buyer’ are detrimental to the health of the UK economy, as they deny lower income families access to housing and drive up rental prices for people already burdened by an increasing cost of living.

If interest rates alone can’t fix our housing market, what does Britain need to do? Firstly, we need a government that’s willing to promote and rejuvenate the concept of ‘social
housing’ for the 21st century. There are now 100,000 less people living in social housing than there were in 2006, and it is very likely that almost all of those 100,000 people are now living in privately rented property.

From 1945 to 1970, the UK was building over 100,000 socially owned properties each year. Due to the privatisation of social housing under Thatcher, we are now building less than 2,000 council-owned homes each year. During a time in which demand is growing at alarming rates, we have chosen to rely on the private sector alone to meet the needs of an entire nation. Is this is a sensible approach? Or has it been driven by an ideological fear of state intervention?


What is driving working class disaffection?

If anything, UKIP’s much anticipated victory in the European elections has put the political spotlight back onto the working class – the support of which will be vital for a 2015 victory.  While disaffected Tories can easily flock to Nigel’s People Army, lower income families in the Northern Labour heartlands have a much tougher choice to make.

As a result of the trade union link, as well as over a century of labour movement history, the Labour Party spans generations across thousands of working class families. However, this historical attachment with Labour has been put under great strain during the last 10 years for quite obvious reasons stemming from New Labour – Tony Blair’s compromise with Thatcher came at a great cost in terms of the party’s working class vote.

Progress, the New Labour pressure group, now want a review into the party’s immigration policies based on the “best evidence available”. While evidenced-based policy is certainly a good thing, this continued focus on immigration is fuelling the politics of fear, distrust and misguided nationalism. Instead of fixing the real issues at hand – e.g the harsh austerity regime, rising inequality and worker exploitation – Labour are still trying to beat the Tories at their own game. This is why we need brave Labour politicians willing to fight for fairness, equality and the rights of working people, rather than technocratic centrists who want move the party permanently away from the socialist left.

Labour’s working class support fell most rapidly in the early New Labour years. Can we blame this solely on immigration? It is far more likely that Tony Blair, and his Thatcherite tendencies, had a far greater impact on lower income families than his immigration policy – which continues to be exaggerated by UKIP as uncontrolled and open door. While the white working class certainly has mixed feelings on immigration, it is undivided on issues such as austerity and privatisation. For millions of lower income families, the effects of austerity and welfare cuts are harsh, brutal and unforgiving – surely this is the fighting ground for Labour in 2015?

Grassroots Labour activists would support a clear cut anti-austerity, anti-privatisation agenda, but the fighting force of Lord Mandelson and his New Labour pressure group continue to propel the party further away from its groundings in fairness and equality. In 2015, Labour needs to turn a new page and convince working class voters that it is a party that will stand up for the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain. Ed Miliband, for all the criticism he receives, has the conviction necessary to rebuild a labour movement that fights for the working class – rather than patronises it with the right-wing anti-immigration propaganda.

Referendum on the NHS: The European Fight to Save our Healthcare

Our National Health Service, considered one of the world’s most efficient healthcare systems by experts, is valued as somewhat of a national treasure here in the UK. Rich or poor, the NHS is free at the point use for everyone – paid for by progressive taxation on the richest and most fortunate in our country. Should we proud of our NHS? Absolutely. However, our NHS is undergoing a crisis that makes its future increasingly uncertain. And the driving force behind the current crisis? The privatisation of healthcare.
Clive Peedell, leader of the National Health Action Party and respected Co-chair of the NHS Consultants Association, tells us why he believes privatisation is driving failures in the NHS:

1. Private companies, on average, deliver a lower quality of care than NHS providers.

2. Commercialisation leads to the ‘cherry picking’ of patients to help private contractors meet government targets. A consequence of this would be that a patient needing a quick standard procedure would be prioritised over a patient with a more complex/urgent health problem.

3. Privatisation breeds internal competition that can potentially bankrupt NHS hospitals – a destructive process that had has already forced one in three foundation trusts into deficit.

4. The ‘internal market’ found within our NHS promotes complex legal arrangements that take “NHS money away from frontline care” and line the pockets of lawyers and business executives.

The last four decades have painted a rather bleak picture of our NHS, one dominated by top-down reforms, wasteful private-finance agreements and market-led commercialisation. These reforms, started by Thatcher and continued by New Labour, have transformed our hospitals into businesses that are forced to keep on top of an ever dwindling budget. Moreover, Clive Peedell tells us that this budget is put under pressure even further by the constant need of private contractors “to make a profit for their shareholders”.

Just this year, it was reported over 70% of healthcare contracts are being awarded to these private firms; companies that Clive Peedell says are more than willing to cut corners. With their shareholders in mind, private companies are found to employ fewer and less qualified staff than the NHS – raising key questions about the quality of care delivered by contractors.

Our interview shows that the private sector has not only capitalised on economic crisis but, in terms of the NHS, it is capitalising on the personal crises of the patients that use it.

Dr Peedell quite correctly identifies that the need to please shareholders and meet profit demands has seen the “cherry picking of the easiest and most profitable cases by the private sector, whilst the NHS must continue to provide a comprehensive range of services to the entire community.” However, in a bid to increase investment in our NHS, this ‘cherry-picking’ is allowed to continue to the detriment of service users.

As well as the patients, this privatisation is having a devastating impact on those employed by the NHS. As this article (http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice/clinical-zones/management/nhs-using-increasing-number-of-zero-hour-contracts/5061074.article) shows, increased use of zero-hour contracts and part-time work is becoming foundational in the NHS. Dr Peedell accurately states that “since the greatest expenditure in healthcare is on staff pay, private companies have an incentive to drive down costs by employing fewer and less qualified staff.” The use of precarious employment is an increasingly beneficial tactic for private companies, allowing them the use of a malleable and desperate workforce, at any convenience.

Potentially an even more damaging effect of employing less qualified staff however, is the eradication of ‘care’ from the profession. Countless documentaries and covert footage of abuse in private care homes – and increasingly, in NHS hospitals – represent the devastating effect that cost-cutting has had in terms of care in our health system. But if contracts for work become increasingly insecure, how can we possibly expect the best qualified people to take up employment?

The European elections represent a chance for change. The rise of UKIP shows that a lot of people recognise this. But if this is indeed the year of fringe parties in the UK, we would be better placed to send a statement of defiance against continued austerity, privatisation and employment insecurity, and begin by protecting the cornerstone of our welfare system.

“The main issue for us in the Euro elections is to highlight the threat of the EU/US TTIP trade deal to the NHS. Unless the NHS is exempted, it could be locked into irreversible privatisation and left at the mercy of large US health corporations, which can bid for contracts to deliver NHS care. We intend to make the Euro elections a referendum on the NHS.” – Dr Clive Peedell

By Samuel Mercer and James Gibson

An independent Scotland could escape Westminster austerity.

Perhaps the convincing case for Scottish independence is the prospect of Scotland never being ruled by a Tory government ever again. Years of Westminster-centric policy and pro-business Thatcherite reform have alienated the Scottish electorate from the British political system; an arrangement that seems increasingly in favour of cut-backs, austerity and tax breaks for the richest. While Conservative and New Labour governments might have secured votes in England, most people living in Scotland have no sympathy for career politicians bidding for power in a seemingly corrupt playground for the elite. In 2014, with Tory austerity plans guaranteed regardless of which party wins office, independence seems like a sure bet for the Scottish to withdraw from Cameron’s race to the bottom.

Despite the fact that there has only ever been one Conservative MP in Scotland since 1992, Scotland has found itself subject to the policies of one of the most extreme Conservative governments in history – one that has sold-off the Royal Mail, fast tracked the privatisation of the NHS and introduced record cuts and reforms to the welfare state. The Scottish people did not vote for these policies, yet social programs in Scotland face being torn back even further by the next government as Wesminster pushes its fiscally responsible but morally bankrupt agenda.

Does this mean that the left, both in Scotland and the rest of the UK, should support the Yes campaign? At a glance, there are obviously some clear contradictions that a nationalist platform might have with the usually internationalist leftist platform. However, Alex Salmond is not your typical right-wing nationalist. Rather than being a tool to promote national barriers and cultural tensions, his particular brand of Scottish nationalism is more of a campaign to give Scotland the national freedom to embrace a social democratic, rather than neoliberal, agenda. In the eyes of many nationalists in Scotland, it is the firm grasp of Westminster rule that restricts Scottish politicians from introducing and protecting new and current social programs, welfare provisions and publicly owned services.

With an increasingly confident UKIP and far-right reactionary movement here in England, it is very possible that Scottish independence would allow millions of people to escape the rampant nationalism that is booming south of the border. As the UK moves towards more privatisation, poverty and inequality, independence could very well grant Scotland the powers it needs to bring about progressive and left-wing policies – ones that would previously have been thwarted by politicians in Westminster.

It is vital that campaigners for Scottish independence remember the reasons for which they’re campaigning, or else they might fall into the trap of the meaningless, xenophobic nationalist rhetoric that has plagued England for decades. At the price of breaking the British union, an independent Scotland would have the chance build international ties and embrace immigration and freedom of movement. What might seem like destructive nationalism could actually be the key to opening up a new internationalist platform in Scotland.

Tony Benn – let’s remember what he stood for.

Political giant. Brilliant speaker. A man with conviction. These are the things the likes of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the Daily Telegraph will remember Tony Benn for – rewarding his delivery but condemning his message. Of course Tony Benn was an excellent speaker and a politician that had managed to garner an unusual level of respect across the spectrum, but that is not what makes him one of the most important British socialists of the 20th century.

Unlike many on the right, my respect for Benn comes not from his good character or partisan etiquette, but his relentless commitment to socialism and common justice. Without pandering to sectarian divisions, Tony Benn put forward the most coherent case for socialism during one of the most violently right-wing and Thatcherite periods of British history. As even Labour politicians were contemplating borrowing some of Thatcher’s free market policies, Benn was not afraid to propose a radical alternative.

What would the Labour Party look like in 2014 if Tony Benn had won the leadership election in 1981? More importantly, what would Britain look like? Benn’s leadership case sought to challenge capitalism, bring nationalisation onto the agenda and introduce industrial democracy across the country. Tony Benn lost by less than one percent of the vote to Dennis Healey; beginning a journey that would eventually lead to the introduction of free market ideals into Labour’s manifesto. The left had a fantastic chance to completely undo the damage done by successive Thatcher governments, but today we need to ask ourselves this – will we ever get that chance gto reverse the damage done by David Cameron, George Osborne and to some extent, Tony Blair?

If we can tear down the sectarian walls that divide us, then I am positive that we’ll able to challenge the power of big business and the financial elite. If we can share even a fraction of Tony Benn’s passion and conviction, I am sure that the future is the people’s to claim.

Don’t pander to UKIP’s nationalism.

Nigel Farage proudly claims that his party is a serious ‘threat to the political establishment’ – and now even progressives are starting to buy into his propaganda. However, once you remember that Nigel is just a City stockbroker with charisma, you’ll soon find that UKIP’s nationalism is precisely what makes it the most pro-establishment party in British politics.

It’s a shame that columnists for both the Guardian and New Statesmen are starting to blame UKIP’s rise as a failure of the left. In one piece in the Guardian, Matthew Goodman paints UKIP voters as neglected working class men, potentially dissuaded from Labour by Tony Blair and the new Thatcherites. UKIP’s growth has become rather lacklustre as of late, failing to make a dent in the northern Labour strongholds, yet even progressives are starting to give this Tory-faction more credit than due.

Firstly, let’s try to remember that 60% of UKIP’s current supporters voted Conservative in 2010. This immediately disproves Farage’s claim that UKIP’s voters are mostly people alienated by Labour. Farage is trying to brand UKIP as a party for the ordinary working man – a tempting offer if you forget about Nigel Farage’s history as a public-schoolboy born to a wealthy London stockbroker. When you put his background into perspective, UKIP’s leader has credentials that could be easily confused with any Tory frontbencher.

Like the Tories, UKIP’s support comes mainly from the South-East. Like the Tories, UKIP’s voters are much older than the average age – its voters are more than twice as likely as the general population to be over 60. UKIP’s ageing electorate feels abandoned by Cameron’s liberal stance on marriage and his failure to ‘get tough’ on immigration. UKIP voters want more than just an EU-exit, they want a return to traditional values and a rejuvenation of our national strength and identity.

In my mind, UKIP is simply a nationalist force – a knee-jerk reaction to the UK’s shrinking role in the world’s political and economic systems. UKIP is a party for those who feel threatened by the increasingly liberal population – a population who oppose military spending and who support gay marriage. As even the Tories start to support liberal policies on minor social matters, conservatives (with a small ‘c’) are isolated in the political arena. UKIP is the product of that isolation.

We shouldn’t panic over UKIP, and we certainly shouldn’t start pandering to their nationalism. Unfortunately, UKIP’s bloated media presence is turning the national debate all toward immigration, away from poverty, inequality and the bludgeoning cost of living crisis – an issue millions of working class families are battling every single day. Immigrants didn’t cause inflation, and they certainly didn’t freeze real wages in both the public and private sector – we have David Cameron and aggressive free market economics to blame for that.

Let’s forget about UKIP and build a radical alternative to austerity instead.

A purge of working class families? The hard truth behind rising house prices.

Thousands of people are being needlessly forced out of their communities, exiled from their homes and pushed away from friends and family, all due to a government policy that is entrenching class division. Just as Thatcher promoted with her highly controversial right to buy scheme, this Conservative government is once again stimulating house prices to mimic the symptoms of an economic recovery – when in actual fact, they are intentionally condemning thousands of poor families to ghettos of poverty and crime.

If you’re a part of the suburban and property owning middle class, you will probably welcome the constant inflation of house prices under this government. However, for the majority of poorer families, house price rises mean being unable to keep up on rent payments, leading to evictions, poverty, and starvation. As house prices increase, more and more ordinary people are purged from their homes and communities; slowly but surely exiling the poor from suburbia.  The Tories are waging class war on the few remnants of working class spirit and community, displacing working class families with middle class ones.

Have we already forgotten about the driving force behind the 2008 financial crash? For those of you who need a quick reminder, the current global recession we’re recovering from was a crisis caused by casino-style investment in collateralised mortgages – a trend in the investment markets fuelled by an unprecedented housing bubble. Just 6 years on, our financial and political elite are already falling to the same inflationary temptations.  However this time they will profit from the suffering and hardship of thousands of families being displaced by the housing bubble.

While greedy landlords and investors make obscene profits, we have a growing underclass of people becoming the subject of their extortionate demands. Landlords already choose to outright refuse tenants with housing benefit, and some even say that they’ll place similar restrictions on people receiving universal credit – if this isn’t class discrimination, then what is? Despite what some might say, this is absolutely an issue of class. The politicians will talk about rising house prices in terms of economics and finance, but will always fail to recognise the class hatred that is intensifying the current crisis.

There are people right now who are homeless as a direct result of government-led inflation in the house market. This doesn’t sit well with me, and it shouldn’t sit well with you either. We’re facing a huge humanitarian crisis here in the UK, yet nobody from the media or political arena seems to care! Personally, I think we should be up in arms about what is essentially a geographical reconfiguration of our country based on lines of class, rather than community and merit.

In 15 years’ time, what will the Greater London suburbs look like? Will they remain somewhat culturally diverse, or will they find themselves reserved solely for high earners and white middle class families? The economic policy of the next government will have huge impacts on the geographical direction of our country, especially concerning income equality and social mobility. How can we expect poorer children to succeed when they are isolated in these poverty ghettos? There is only one thing worse than experiencing the effects of poverty first-hand, and that is experiencing the effects of other people’s poverty. As more and more working class people are forced out of their mixed communities and into poverty hotspots, the threats of crime and addiction become increasingly real – making it extremely difficult for these people to escape their poverty and hardship.

The Attlee government of 1945 made the promise to give every single British citizen a home, food to eat and access to healthcare. The combination of rising living costs, rising house prices and NHS privatisation are making this promise increasingly distant. It’s up to people like you and me to stand up for those living in poverty – after all, who else will?

We need public investment, not more quantitative easing.

In response to the 2008 financial crisis, the knee-jerk reaction of the Bank of England was to inject money into the economy through so-called quantitative easing (QE) stimulus schemes. At great expense to the taxpayer, our government’s QE scheme now amounts to around £375bn – enough money to run the entire NHS for four years. Instead stimulating the economy through public investment, something this government is ideologically opposed to, the Tories are channelling money directly into pockets of banks and private investors.

Despite the huge amount of capital put into these QE schemes, the economy is still much weaker than it was before 2008 – with youth unemployment still at near-record levels and poverty on the rise. Admittedly, the financial services and corporate sector has managed to recover quite nicely, but have those successes been of benefit to the UK at large? The GDP might very well be stronger as a result of the propped up financial sector, however our GDP has historically had very little correlation with living standards and employment.

Living standards have taken huge hits recently, with over 350,000 people using food banks, and thousands more struggling to keep up with their mortgage and rent payments. In addition to this, real wages have been stagnating and in some cases falling due to inflation – can we really call this a recovery? If GDP has been proven to have no direct link with living standards, why do we still use it as the default measurement of economic success? Economic success needs to be felt in all sectors, by both employees and businesses; in 2014, this is simply not the case.

Fundamentally, the government has failed to create investment in our economy. Instead of using public funds to build infrastructure projects, create jobs and improve living standards, this Conservative government has decided to funnel hundreds of billions of pounds into the banking sector. All of this capital is almost certainly concentrated in the City’s financial district, further intensifying the growing inequality between London and the rest of the country.

We have completely missed the opportunity to bring about meaningful reform to the financial and banking sector. Instead of regulating the markets that facilitated the financial crash, the government has decided to pump capital directly into the banks that continue to invest in these same volatile markets. While it’s unlikely there will ever be another crisis of sub-prime mortgages, the possibility of new bubbles forming in other markets is still there. Analysts have identified a particularly menacing threat in the student loans market in America, an issue that could also affect the UK if student debt continues to be privatised.

Is the economy any less prone to crisis than it was before 2008? I don’t think so. Instead of restricting the finance sector, the government has encouraged the growth of financial services and has laid the foundations for a new housing bubble.  Unless the next government can radically transform the economy, financial crises will continue to be a fact of life for the UK.