MARK BRAUND is author of The Possibility of Progress. He has worked in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and spent three years as an advisor to the government of Mozambique. The book, his first, is the product of several years’ research and a deep interest in what motivates people, how individuals shape society, and the future prospects for humankind. He is a freelance writer and many of his articles have appeared on Guardian.co.uk / Comment is Free.
www.markbraund.com

In The Possibility of Progress (Shepheard-Walwyn, 2005), Mark Braund argues that conventional politics has become increasingly unable to address the concerns of ordinary people. He puts forward a genuine alternative which combines the dynamism of the free market with the ideals of socialism; a new approach to economics which promises fair shares for equal effort without threatening individual freedom.

His argument is even more pertinent five years on. Having experienced a severe economic crisis and a change in government, it has become imperative for politicians to present a solution to the social injustices we are facing.

The Labour leadership contest has now been resolved, and Ed Milliband has a fresh opportunity to choose an alternative approach to the old ways of Labour and the capitalism of the coalition. In an article for the Guardian, published online on Saturday, Braund argues that ‘If the Labour party is to have any purpose going forward, it needs to present itself as the distinctive and unique party of social justice’. The advocacy of Land Value Taxation is a way to achieve this. Andy Burnham has already come out in favour of reforming the tax system and the idea of LVT is now entering the mainstream press. It must be considered as a serious contender as an alternative to a failing system. As Braund makes clear, LVT should be adopted ‘not just as another tax and not as a quick way of plugging the deficit or raising revenue to fund a growing welfare bill. LVT should form the centrepiece of a strategy for transforming the economy so that more people have access to genuine economic opportunities.’

A Land Value Tax would seem naturally to align with Labour ideology. It ‘should be sold as a tax on unearned wealth’, and would ‘[strike] at the very foundations of elite wealth and privilege.’ It is a wholly democratic tax that would offer a solution to the problem of unequal and unfair wealth distribution.

The outcome of the Labour leadership contest, while perhaps shocking and disappointing for some, provides the party’s new helmsman with a unique opportunity. Ed Milliband should not be afraid to come out in favour of a radical alternative.

Article quoted: ‘Land Value Taxation; a Genuine Alternative’ by Mark Braund, www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree, Saturday 25th September 2010.