This Time No Mistakes

by Will Hutton





Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Published April 2024

Books > Politics

How to Remake Britain

Every thinking person knows that a great change is needed in our country.

Will Hutton’s passionate book shows how the right and left have gone wrong over the course of the last century – and how we can remake a better Britain. Britain’s inability to invest in itself is at the heart of our problems. The malevolent thread linking the grievous errors of the last forty-five years is the attempt to create the utopia of free markets and a minimal state. The terrible consequences scar our country today. We need an alternative economic and political philosophy, especially if we are to ward off a nihilist populism.

Two great traditions – ethical socialism and progressive liberalism – can be brought together to offer a different way forward. Hutton describes the views of their major thinkers, and their common vision of what he calls the ‘We Society’ – combining the ‘We’ and the ‘I’. The two strands of thought both believe in the duty to treat people fairly in a capitalist system that, without guiderails, spirals into inequality, monopoly and exploitation.

Out of this shared worldview came the great reforming Liberal government of 1906–14, supported by Labour MPs who’d been elected in industrial areas with Liberal backing. This alliance, Hutton argues, was the great opportunity of modern British history. It was destroyed by the First World War. In 1945 a Labour government, informed by great Liberal intellectuals like Keynes and Beveridge, showed once again what can be achieved when the two progressive strands fuse.

Since then, our deeply unfair electoral system has allowed Conservatives to dominate government and commit a long series of great, avoidable errors. The Labour Party, fatally divided between socialist purity and timid pragmatism, must rediscover the ingredients that made for the success of the great reforming governments of the twentieth century.

This failure to uphold the ‘We Society’ has betrayed Britain. Capitalism must be repurposed to work for the common good. And our degraded democracy, the necessary means for such change, must be reformed. Hutton’s proposals are inspiring and rooted in values held by the overwhelming majority of us. Above all, they are achievable.

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