“The struggle between incumbency elites and those who see the need for change will be the defining struggle of our times”

Such a great intro to a speech:

Business as usual died in 2008. Publics understand that. Elites, on the whole, do not. In Britain, our economy is now almost one sixth smaller than economists were saying five years ago it was going to be by now.

Young people in my country understand that they are the first generation for over 300 years since the beginning of the industrial revolution who, as they look at their future, see a prospect that might well be worse than the one their parents contemplated a generation ago. Progress – the betterment of our lives from one generation to the next – is no longer something we can afford to take for granted. People know that something has gone seriously wrong.

We need a new growth model that is less vulnerable to shocks; that rebalances from excessive debt and casino finance towards the creation of value in the real economy; and that greatly reduces the stress that a growing and increasingly affluent population puts on the resource base including the climate.

This is not a minor adjustment. It demands a substantial redesign of the economy and of the system of power relations that underpins the economy. That is the heart of the matter because the forces of incumbency will always start from the strongest position and they will always fight reform.

That is not how things look to many elites around the world. Some profit too much from the old system to countenance the thought of anything different. Others are imprisoned within an economic theory that under current conditions has lost its power to make useful predictions.

The struggle between incumbency elites and those who see the need for change will be the defining struggle of our times. It will demand a monumental effort to build a new consensus between those who govern and those who are governed; between the over 40s and the under 30s; between those who said “trust us” and those who are no longer willing to take it on trust that elites must know what they are doing, and that they are doing it for the best.

(That’s recently retired UK Foreign Office Special Representative on Climate Change John Ashton, pulling no punches. H/t Casper TK.)