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Individual Paper: Degrowth and the British Labour Party.

Getting degrowth onto the mainstream political agenda

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Like other left of centre parties in Europe, the British Labour Party has always been an alliance of diverse political currents. While the model of mitigating capitalism and sharing the “benefits of growth” with “the many not the few” has long been dominant, there are other tendencies and influences going right back to early scholar-activists like William Morris and Robert Blatchford. The New Left also brought a degree of ecological understanding into the Labour movement although those voices were subsequently marginalised during more than a quarter century of neoliberalism's dominance, most notably under Tony Blair's leadership. Today the crisis of neoliberal capitalism has led to a taking back of the party by a broad left under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Both have made promising statements on the ecological crisis, in McDonnell's case with an acknowledgement of material limits to economic activity and expansion. However, in practice the left tends to fall back on a post-Keynesian, “green growth” and techno-optimistic framework. I will explore the extent to which the Labour Party and movement is open to degrowth concepts and proposals with observations from both regional and national political contexts.