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Radical thinking, not more of the same

Despite the lack of ambition in the Conservative’s banking reform policy white paper, the Shadow Chancellor is associated with some more radical proposals. George Osborne is a member of the Advisory Council of the think-tank Demos, home of the Progressive Conservatism project – http://www.demos.co.uk/projects/progressiveconservatism – which until a few weeks ago was headed up by ‘red Tory’ author Phillip Blond.

In their new pamphlet ‘Recapitalising the Poor’ – http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/recapitalising-the-poor – they argue for a ‘Grant Recapitalisation Act’, based on the US Community Reinvestment Act, to ‘promote ethical, fair credit in poor communities’. Following meetings Urban Forum (and a number of other Community Reinvestment supporters) had with the Progressive Conservatism project team about CRA, it’s good to see our common interest in the principles of community reinvestment reflected in their new pamphlet.

How, or whether, recapitalising the poor fits with the Conservative’s policy on banking reform is unclear, though David Cameron did write the foreword to the pamphlet….one assumes he read the contents before associating himself with it. In any event, the Progressive Conservatism project are clearly adding to the growing numbers calling for Community Reinvestment.

Demos have also recently launched an Open Left project –
http://www.demos.co.uk/projects/open-left – that is about ‘rediscovering the Left’s appetite for radical ideas’, headed by former Minister James Purnell. Maybe we’ll hear more from them about banking reform in the future, but on the evidence so far they’ve some catching up to do with their Conservative counterparts.

The Progressive Conservatives’ call for a CRA is welcome, but the real challenge is to get the ideas being adopted by political parties. We must demonstrate that this is something the public demand in response to the banking crisis. If community reinvestment is seen as a vote-winner then the politicians will all be clamouring to support it. That’s why we must keep on keeping on….the time for change is now!

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