Boris Johnson has promised to usher in a new Golden Age. The UK, he says, will be “clean, green, prosperous, united, confident and ambitious.”
The period from 1945-1980 was the Golden Age of Capitalism, followed by the Age of Market Capitalism from 1980 to 2015. As the chart below indicates, Johnson is quite right that the Golden Age delivered better economic performance – dramatically better in terms of its impact on a typical member of society.
Note: ONS data for median income do not start until 1977
But will he follow through on his promises? To do so, he would have to overturn the instincts of his cabinet and the wishes of his backers, most of whom would like to double down on the policies of market capitalism that created mass impoverishment. Many current and former Conservative Members of Parliament now believe that their party has now been taken over by the extreme right, and fear that it can never again be a ‘one nation’ party. And looking at the sources of funding for the ongoing Brexit campaign and for Boris Johnson’s campaign to become Tory Party leader makes it very clear that to deliver on his promise of delivering a new Golden Age, Johnson will need all his determination and persuasive skills.
More likely, we shall see an acceleration of vulture policies which lead to mass impoverishment: tax cuts which principally benefit the wealthy, spending cuts which principally hurt the poor and the middle class, and a bonfire of regulations which will make it even harder for ethical businesses to compete with unethical ones.
The UK stands at a crossroads: we have the opportunity to create a second Golden Age, but there is an unacceptable risk of accelerating both mass impoverishment and environmental degradation. And we cannot afford either.
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