Saturday, 4 October 2008

Crisis? Bring back Mandy... Brilliant!

So Bottler Brown has got a solution to the deepening financial crisis after all: bring back arch enemy Peter Mandelson into the Government and go running to Paris to seek a European bankers' bail-out to mirror that agreed in America yesterday (at a cost of about $2,500 for every woman, man and child in the country).


It's not just that Mandy has a track record of deceit and failure (who could forget his two resignations from Blair's cabinet, his dodgy loan for a luxury West London home or his crooked intrervention in a passport application for the super-rich Hinduja brothers?)

It's not the fact that he's spent the last four years as EU Trade Commissioner doggedly pursuing free-trade and economic globalisation deals around the world despite all the evidence that this approach destroys lives and and environments across in poorer countries and weakens communities at home.

It's not even his key role as 'architect' of the New Labour project, or that he's hopelessly out-of-touch with ordinary families.

No, the real problem with Mandy's return is that it sends out the clearest signal yet that Gordon's response is one of 'business-as-usual', that he has nothing of the radical response required up his sleeve.

It's getting clearer every day that we're in a mess: here in Brighton you can hardly open the Argus without reading of another burst of redundancies and job losses (today it was 60 staff at Rosebys joining the dole queue). Inflation is up. Child poverty is up. Fuel poverty is getting worse, prmopting charities to warn that thousands of our most frail, vulnerable and elderly friends and neighbours may die this winter. The oil supplies on which our economy relies are dwindling, and worsening climate change threatens to devastate whole communities' very existence: it's already killing thousands around the world every year.

If we hope turn this around we need some pretty radical responses, and quickly. A starting point would be a Green New Deal between government, business and ordinary families based on the ideas of ending our dependence on oil, cutting climate change emissions, creating thousands of new 'green' jobs and re-regulating the banking and fuel multi-nationals.

Government should spend serious money helping those who need it most - the 50 per cent of Kemptown and Peacehaven children living in poverty, for example, or the thousands of the frail and elderly facing a choice between heating their homes and eating nutritious food this winter - not the fat-cat bankers who got us in to the mess in the first place.

A group of leading thinkers and campaigners - including my Green Party colleage and Brighton Pavilion MP candidate Caroline Lucas MEP - have come together to form the Green New Deal group calling for policies just like these.

And the good news is that some of them are coming to Brighton in a few weeks for a public meeting to discuss what they would mean for us here in Sussex.

Joining Caroline will be Ann Pettifor, former head of Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign, Colin Hines, Co-Director, Finance for the Future and Guardian Economics Editor Larry Elliott.

The meeting will take place on Monday, November 10th, and will be chaired by Hanover and Elm Grove Green Party councillor and local jobs and housing champion Bill Randall. Watch this space for further details soon!

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