There is a battle for the future of local economic policy. It has been captured by an over exuberant set of economic orthodoxies and its failing wisdom around competition and growth. Low wages, poverty and hardship are on the rise, and local economic policy seems increasingly incapable, if not obsolete, in tackling it. Historically, local economic policy was always a pragmatic policy mixed bag. Never ideologically bounded, it was happy to dip into a bit of free market planning or tax relaxation or adopt a neo-Keynesian intervention in the labour market. It was understood that local economies were complex and that capitalism ebbed and flowed, and needed a bit of evening out. Today this pick and mix pragmatism, reflective of a real complexity, is in abeyance, given way to narrow simplicities. The economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that, ‘The shortcomings of economics are not original error but uncorrected obsolescence. The … (To read the full article, subscribe below)

Neil Mclnroy
Neil McInroy is chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)