If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there are more important things than economic growth. We’ve had to make choices that prioritise human health at the expense of business as usual. We’ve had to step in to protect jobs and livelihoods, or keep people in their homes. Some of these interventions have not been kind to GDP or to profits, but they were necessary. The pandemic has shown us what really matters. Can we take that lesson forwards into our post-Covid politics?
There’s no need to abandon profit and growth and take some kind of vow of national poverty. It’s more about keeping those things in their proper place, ensuring that they are the servants of society, rather than the other way round. What we need is an economy that is designed with the health and wellbeing of people and planet at the centre – not one that assumes that what benefits capital and markets is inevitably in our best interests.
It’s time for a Wellbeing Economy, an approach that is already being applied in New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica and elsewhere. Scotland and Wales are already drawing inspiration from the movement, so it is not too big a stretch to imagine Westminster paying attention. If they were to look into it, they’d find there is already broad support from the voting public. Research from Reset UK found that 66% of people think that the government should prioritise health and wellbeing over GDP.
So how do we get the Wellbeing Economy on the government’s radar? One way is through a parliamentary petition. It’s a formal mechanism that allows anyone to submit petitions to government. If they can get 10,000 signatures, the government is mandated to respond in writing. At 100,000 the petition will be discussed in parliament.
Last night, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance launched a petition. You can sign it here. Please add your name, spread the word. It’ll run for six months, and let’s see if we can take this 21st century common sense into parliament through the side door.