Labour’s intention when in government has been clearly stated by the shadow chancellor John McDonnell. He has spoken extensively of the benefits of public ownership encouraging  participation in the ownership and management of services by the public as workers and consumers. Labour is giving serious thought to the problems of work, the economy and environment.

Local thinking

Northumberland also needs local thinking. An important Labour view is that core institutions such as the health service, universities and local authorities should spend locally, sustaining and creating local business and work. This would in turn generate local goods, services and wealth. Labour led Preston in Lancashire has put this into practice. In 2012/13 5% of money spent on goods and services by key institutions was spent in Preston and 39% in Lancashire. By 2016/17 this had jumped to 19% and 81% respectively.  The benefits in terms of business, jobs and incomes are not hard to imagine. Worker led cooperatives committed to cooperation rather than competition are at the heart of this thinking. They can be created from a variety of sources such as buyouts of companies by employees or the encouragement of start up cooperative enterprises.

But co-ops and community benefit societies require access to funds. This is why radical and imaginative thinking to make this possible is required at every level of government – from parish, town and county councils to central government. A socialist North of Tyne Mayor could really help in securing loans for small businesses that would be otherwise unavailable.

In this thinking the economy benefits from generating and retaining local wealth. Society benefits from sharing wealth more equally. The environment benefits through reduced transportation of goods. And there is more. People can find a real pride in place and community shaped from their experience as workers and consumers, and identity formed through cooperation rather than self preservation or self aggrandisement. The satisfaction of working together rather than the stress of extreme competitiveness may add to a sense of well being – sadly missing in recent grim, austerity laden years. Labour locally and nationally will create a new kind of economy, not for the benefit of the few but organised for the health, wealth and happiness of the many.