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The Disraeli Room is a hub for new ideas, commentary and analysis. ResPublica's blog is named after the great reforming Prime Minister of the nineteenth century, Benjamin Disraeli, and welcomes contributions from across the political, academic and professional spectrum.
The social and political agenda in the UK has been polarised over the past several weeks on the issue of welfare reform, with the Government supporting work-centred measures as a method of poverty relief, while different organisations and societal actors argue that these proposed measures would push even more people into poverty.
It has been suggested that the Big Society is essentially an English affair. I do not agree. The basic thesis of my latest book, The Big Society in a Small Country: Wales, Social Capital, Mutualism and Self-Help, is that not only is the Big Society relevant to Wales in the sense of providing much needed practical policy solutions to pressing problems, it actually has the potential to achieve a far better fit with Welsh than English culture.
There is much to be said for local banking. Local banks are based in the community, lend to the community, and make all of their decisions in the community. Localised banks would not only provide a proper return to investors, but make sure that profits are ploughed back into the local area.
In 1791 Thomas Paine wrote: “there can be no such thing as a Nation flourishing alone in commerce; she can only participate”. In September 2010 William Hague, then the new Foreign Secretary, drew on this insight when addressing how Britain will continue to compete in the modern ‘networked world’.
Land is the ultimate non-renewable resource: they really aren’t making it any more. So does it matter who owns it? Owners of land come in many guises: private companies or individuals pursuing purely private ends, government in the interests of citizens, or not-for-profit organisations with a social or community-driven purpose.
History shows that leaders often turn to infrastructure projects at times of historic economic crisis. It normally pays off. Roosevelt’s dams, Churchill’s radar and Kennedy’s space programme all laid the foundations for long term economic advantage.
I’m standing on the beach at Hvide Sande, in the northern reaches of Denmark, on a cold October morning. Strong gusts of wind pick up sand and throw it straight at my face.
Insurance, at its heart, is a mutual concept: a group of people coming together to solve a shared problem – an uncertain risk of a large loss occurring in specified circumstances – which is solved by exchanging the potential of a large loss for a (comparatively) small premium.
It was racial discrimination in 1960s London which led to the setting up of the first credit union in Britain fifty years ago. Credit unions have existed in the Caribbean since the 1940s, and immigrants to Britain from Jamaica and Trinidad decided upon their arrival in the UK to set up a self-help organisation so they could get the financial services they needed.
The General Election in 2010 saw a major landmark in the development of the Co-operative Movement. For the first time ever, the three largest political parties all made glowing reference to the role of co-operatives in British society and how they would support them if elected.
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