David Cameron’s Greensill scandal shows an “unnatural” relationship between politics and finance, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has said.
Her statements come as the former prime minister gave evidence to MPs yesterday about a “grubby affair”.
During the Chicago Council on Global Affairs conference, debating the revival of industrial regions, The London Economic heard about what the company’s access “to the heart of the government” means.
“What was exposed is the cosy, unnatural relationship between politics and finance, which allows a chosen few to have unparalleled access to power to milk the system until it breaks,” Nandy said.
“They are taking risks happy in the knowledge that if they win, they win big, but if they lose it’s never them, but it’s people in towns like Rotherham and Hartlepool, the liberty steelworkers whose industry has collapsed as a consequence of those dodgy doings, who shoulder the appalling losses.”
British contracts have some of the weakest protections in the world
Nandy also spoke about a lack of protections against “social dumping, the use of slave labour or unacceptable practices”.
She said: “To really address these problems, we’ve got to set about building trade policies fit for the 21st century, that prioritise fairness and market access, protect the environment and champion labour rights.
“We must stop the dirty money that flows through the city of London and sustains authoritarian regimes, close tax loopholes and bear down on tax havens. The UK in particular has an outside responsibility for this given the prominence of London.”
Global minimum corporation tax would ‘give power back to people’
Nandy expressed support for the US agenda led by Joe Biden, particularly over issues such as pushing for a global minimum corporation tax.
“That will stop money leaking out of the areas where it could be used to rebuild our communities from the ground up,” Nandy said.
She added: “These are measures that we have to take in order to turn round four decades of economic decline and start to restore hope in those communities.
“This is how you build a country at ease with itself, that can deliver on our views at home, and has the confidence to stand for and invest in people, and puts them at the centre of the vision for the country because, in the end, it’s from them that the power is derived and it’s to them that power must return.”
“There are so many people for so long, in these communities, people who have longed to see hope flickering back. This is what George Orwell called ‘the England that lies beneath the surface’ and it must be heard.”
But it’s ‘always men’ in Westminster deciding investments
The shadow minister said that investment is needed in “boarded-up high streets” and “cancelled bus networks” which are no longer sustainable.
But she added: “These decisions are currently made by a group of men, and it is always men behind a desk in Westminster, far too remote from the reality of people’s lives and it’s left our regions chronically underfunded.”
World leaders on future growth and tackling far-right populism
The London Economic has also heard insights from a number of US-based politicians and researchers.
US Democratic Senator Gary Peters said “inclusive, sustainable economic growth has never been more important”.
German ambassador to the US Emily Haber agreed, but stressed the fact that a new model of such growth will be a “political challenge” – as it has to be “achievable socially and economically”
Harvard University researcher Pauliina Patana, who has primarily focused on her findings from France and Finland, talked about lessons to be learned on tackling populism.
She said the difficulty of residential mobility for many of those “left behind” is key to understanding why people turn towards the far right.
“Housing markets are important in understanding populism, because housing costs have become a growing concern,” Patana said.
She added: “It also makes individuals turn to populists, especially radical parties to express their frustrations.
“Cities are sucking in all the jobs and acess to public services is declining. Long commutes have become costly and an unwanted reality.
“One radical supporter pointed at the closure of a local factory and he pointed that finding employment in the area was not an option anymore and neither was being able to sell a house in an area with no jobs.”