I am jealous! Martin Bright of New Statesman has come up with a brilliant idea that I wish I or my party had thought of first. You have to read the piece. Read it! It is called ‘A New Deal of the Mind’:
The government’s job creation plans are inspired by FDR’s New Deal. But ministers have ignored its most lasting legacy: the boost it gave to writers, artists and intellectuals.
Just before the Second World War, the Works Progress Administration, one of Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal programmes, published a series of statistics about what it had done to get America back to work. In the previous three years the WPA had built 17,562 public buildings, 279,804 miles of roads, 29,084 bridges, 357 airports, more than 30,000 dams and 15,000 parks.
Although nothing on this scale has been considered for Britain as we head towards the second decade of the 21st century, the rhetoric of Labour’s interventionist approach to the crisis is pure FDR. Ministers seem to be wavering between calling it a “Green” New Deal or a “Hi-Tech” New Deal, but the centrally funded work-creation schemes take their inspiration from Depression-era America. That much is certain.
And Bright goes on to propose five key actions that we could take as a nation that would, using intellect, vision and arts, change the future for decades to come.
Even in our benighted DfT there is some stirring, with relevant new train orders being brought forward (and the irrelevant camel of the Inter-City Express programme stopped, albeit under Treasury orders). Also apparently about to be brought forward is some co-ordination of public transport, starting to implement John Prescott’s 10 year old ‘new deal for transport: better for everyone’ (the only policy that we have) – LDs, do your research here, please.