Steve Baker, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Mr Speaker: the most covenantal speeches of the week.
Each week the New Social Covenant Unit recognises Members of Parliament for their covenantal credentials as spotted on the green benches. This week, we found a Tory MP, Labour MP and even Mr Speaker endorsing the ideas of the new social covenant.
Individuals are more than mere automata, says Steve Baker
There are two kinds of libertarians: those who are indifferent to the condition of society as long as the individual can pursue his or her desires, and those who believe that society is strengthened by individuals having as much freedom as possible.
The latter is espoused by Steve Baker, who expressed covenantal instincts during a debate on face masks.
Are we to be empty vessels or mere automata—things to be managed, as if a problem? Or are we free spirits with, for want of a better term, a soul? We are free spirits with a soul—people who deserve the dignity of choice and the meaning in our lives that comes from taking responsibility.
Baker prefers a society governed by individual responsibility over both statist authoritarianism and the natural end of hyper libertarianism - anarchy.
And so do we.
And this is why we need a new social covenant - an agreement, inherited from history and passed on to future generations, to sustain our common life. Participation in family, community and national life nurtures responsible individuals and makes us happy, safe and free.
Growth, at what cost?, asks Rebecca Long-Bailey
Over on the Opposition benches, we detected the covenantal tradition within left wing politics too. Rebecca Long-Bailey, known for her service in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, is usually thought of as a statist rather than a communitarian.
But in the lesser known debating chamber of Westminster Hall, often where powerful ideas on the fringes of political possibility first get an airing, Rebecca Long-Bailey was found praising a more plural measure of economic growth, including community power.
‘We see growth prioritised, but rarely do we ever question the real nature of such growth or what its adverse consequences could be.
‘…I hope that today’s debate is just the start of a long overdue conversation about what that really means in practice: from finding a new way of measuring the economy’s performance away from the distribution-blind GDP and towards indices of wellbeing, through to ensuring the economy distributes wealth more fairly, provides stable and sufficient incomes, supports socially and environmentally useful enterprise and, importantly, ensures the ownership of economic assets is shared more widely and democratically with workers and communities.’
As the minister responded, growth is good. But growth is also complex. GDP is a blunt financial measure used as a proxy for the size of the economy. But the size is not the same as the health of the economy, which should be measured according to a range of indicators: social, environmental, as well as economic.
Happy Lancashire Day!
As a proud Lancashire man, Mr Speaker was overjoyed that his home flag was flown over Parliament this week.
This is the first time for a county flag - but we hope not the last. We welcome the increased focus on local places, not just countries and political causes, on the flagpoles of Parliament Square.
The heritage and culture of a place is deeply important because a place needs a sense of itself to retain and attract people. As we often say: places are sticky.
Thanks for reading!