I made an effort to see Frances O'Grady at the 'Alternative Mansion House speech' yesterday and was suitably impressed. As the panel said, there IS an alternative and 'unravelling financialisation... has to be a number one priority'. Frances called for action to address low wages and 'the chronic imbalance between capital and labour' which for me is one of the best TUC campaigns I have seen. The audience were suitably hanging on to every word when she called for 'wage restraint..... at the top'.
There were other interesting suggestions from the panel, who included Ruth Davis, Tony Greenham and John Ashton. One that struck a chord with me was a call for unconventional or strategic quantitative easing with 'real-world' outcomes... a 'New Deal' that reduces the UK's dependency on oil and finance (or as the panel said, 'professional gamblers') and invests in low carbon jobs and energy efficient homes.
There were some good ideas, too, to reform our institutions, such as moving the Treasury to Birmingham because (as Tony put it) you learn more about the real economy outside London. I can vouch for that. It's not much fun going from one short-term contract to another, knowing there are better paid jobs in London but they pretty much ruin your family life, and knowing the gap between London and the regions is higher than ever.
My last word goes to Frances, though, calling for governance reform and workers on boards like Germany. I had a quick chat with her afterwards about restraining executive pay... it's time our pension fund managers said 'No' to the Board. The challenge is that so much corporate governance is offshore... which means looking for solutions at the level of Europe or the G20. Something tells me that, with Frances in charge, we might start to see more progress.