Sunday, 15th September marks the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers that triggered the financial crash.
I think we all remember how, in the aftermath of the crisis, meetings and media were brimming with enthusiasm for how finance could be reformed.
Five years later, the culture of finance remains unchallenged and the underlying causes which led to its implosion have not been tackled.
City bonuses are back, with an increase of 81% from April of this year alone, at a time when ordinary people are struggling, and our communities are bearing the brunt of the Tories’ divisive economic policy: for the few and not the many.
It is a shame that, five years on, we seem to have forgotten the root causes of the financial crash and have left the system as it was, leaving it prone to collapse again at the next occasion.
This is why I believe it is very important for Labour to continue to talk about these issues: with the next general election looking to be fought on living standards, it is important that we present a vision of how we can reform the economy, to make it work for the many and not the few.
When George Osborne claims victory — stating how timid signs of growth are proving his economic plan has worked — I think people in Britain know how misleading this is. Not that growth should not be welcomed, of course, but shutting down the system for two years then reopening it does not constitute growth. What we are, in fact, witnessing is an unequal recovery, with increasing pay gaps and the use of precarious and unsafe contracts.
This frames the place where we have to be. How do we reform the foundations of the economy, including banks serving ordinary people, not vice versa? How can we put an end to the exploitation of zero-hours contracts? And how can we create an education system rooted in the principles of equality of access (and success), for those who pursue vocational training and those who go to university?
But these things will not be possible on their own. As the recent Winning with Women conference pointed out, women voters can make the difference. How we are able to speak with women can help shape our electoral success, too.
At the Fabian Women’s Network we have been working hard in the last few months on how women can grow the economy and grow in the economy, and this encompasses many issues: encouraging women’s entrepreneurship, for which Seema Malthotra MP is campaigning; protecting women’s rights at work; providing the stability and safety nets women need, as their lives are often a roller coaster; establishing a new culture in our business world, with more diversity in company boardrooms; introducing a sensible policy on affordable childcare; and encouraging more women to pursue technical vocations, as well as careers in science, innovation and technology, since we lag behind the rest of the world for women with trade skills as much as for those in scientific jobs.
The reality is that women can be at the heart of an equal economic recovery. And with so many women’s organisations blossoming, as well as greater awareness right across the movement, we could really step it up.
Ivana Bartoletti is chair of the Fabian Women’s Network. Ivana will be speaking at the Fabian Women fringe event ‘The role of women in business and economic growth’ which starts at 19.30 today at the Mercure hotel, Brighton. For more details click here.
This article first appeared in Fabiana, the Fabian Women’s Network magazine.