Manifesto AEPS Cover ArtworkA new book from Manifesto Press, exploring  economic and political alternatives for the 21st century, availale now, makes essential reading for labour and trade union activists. Order your copy today.

Labour goes into its annual conference with a substantial poll lead but with an equally substantial credibility gap. It is not simply a question of Ed Miliband's standing with actual and potential Labour voters, it is more a question of what Labour in government stands for.
And Ed Balls' pre conference pledge to choose his policy options from the same menu of cuts as the Coalition offers the prospect of an election agenda defined by the choices that only the banks and big business favour.
The political dilemma faced by the working class in Britain, by the trade unions and by that broad swathe of opinion that makes up the progressive consensus is bundled in with the failure of Labour to propose a convincing alternative.
There are policies enough to float a flotilla of think tanks. Over two decades the unions, individually and at at the TUC, have step-by-step abandoned the individual policy planks that bound them into capitalist consensus. This is significant. Trade unions are by far the most inclusive, representative and deeply rooted popular organisations in Britain and an audience of trade unionists is by far the most effective barometer of working people's opinions.
Put the settled views of millions of trade unionists (and broadly speaking of workers generally) and big sections of middle class opinion together and we have the basis of a genuinely alternative governmental programme. Not driven by abstract theory. No arising from an ideology. Not manipulated by media. But arising from their real lived experiences.
Consider the elements. Millions both experience public service cuts and oppose them and moreover fear what is threatened.
A clear majority would happily see an exacting regulation of the banks extended to public ownership while a substantial number would welcome penal servitude for bankers as a class.
On the health service the impending plague of privatisation has few supporters that dare speak openly in favour while its unpopularity has already claimed one Cabinet scalp
Like the NHS the fragmentation and creeping privatisation of the education system has united professionals in opposition and, as the individual bricks fall out of Michael Gove's wall of shameful appeals to privilege, even the middle class champions of 'choice' begin to see how little they can actually buy.
A sense that the shrinking productive and manufacturing base of the economy; the domination of the finance sector and decision making centred on a tiny sliver bankers and bureaucrats reaches even into the heart of the business class itself and has moved the centre of political gravity.
And a foreign policy that serves only those sections of capital most tied to the US, that makes Britain an outpost of US interests in our own continent – and a subaltern combatant in its global wars – is as opposed by those who see opportunities in more diverse economic relationships as much as by those appalled by wars of imperial conquest.
The European Union 'social model' to which many in the trade union movement saw as a mechanism for protecting workers pay and conditions and to buttress the post-war welfare state is now seen as the instrument for forcing social dumping, deregulating labour, depressing wages and wrapping resistance in a stifling cocoon of anti union laws and legal judgements.
Timely then, that Manifesto Press has chosen this moment to publish Building an economy for the people.
The book takes these strands of opinion and weaves them into a coherent programme that would immediately stimulate demand and economic growth and begin the recapitalisation of productive and sustainable industry and the renewal of the infrastructure.
Strands of this thinking already find acceptance in the Labour Party but the distinctive contribution of this book, beyond the ambitious sweep of its detailed policy proposals, lies in the political calculation that such a programme would command decisive support.
The book faces with unusual frankness the obstacles that a progressive government  intent of such policies would face and argues that an alternative economic strategy must be accompanied by a political strategy that would mobilise mass support to weaken the corporate power of the City and big business and strengthen democratic institutions.
For such a government the core of its appeal would lie in a clear rise in the spending power of working people and their families, a tax regime that would narrow the wealth gap and establish a renewed democratised public realm able to counteract the malign effect of the money markets.
It insists on the importance of a strategy that can boost spending power among the British people, begin to narrow the widening inequalities in British society and raise the standard of living and build a new, democratised public realm that insulates people from dependence on volatile financial markets.
Building an economy for the people
An alternative economic and political strategy for 21st Century Britain
Edited by Jonathan White. Contributions from: Mark Baimbridge; Brian Burkitt; Mary Davis; John Foster; Marjorie Mayo; Jonathan Michie; Seumas Milne; Andrew Murray; Roger Seifert; Prem Sikka; Jonathan White and Philip Whyman
£6.95 (+£2 p&p) ISBN 978-1-907464-08-9