What Role Do Small Businesses Have To Play In Progressive Politics?

By the end of 2020, the fate of progressive politics in the USA, and potentially the UK, will have been settled. There are several scenarios that could unfold come November and events will be watched closely on this side of the Atlantic.

If progressive politics is ever to break the UK and take root in the same way that Thatcher’s conservatism did, small businesses will be a vital component of any battle plan.

Ethical Businesses Are On The Rise

Walk through any city centre in the UK today and you will find streets awash with artisan coffee shops, vegan cafes, and organic, all-natural soap manufacturers. You know that those independent ethical brands are on to something when the big conglomerates start paying attention, and all the major supermarkets have massively expanded their offerings of ethically-sourced goods, from food to toiletries. Consumers are proving happy to pay more for products that have been sourced ethically, defying the ‘common knowledge’ that sourcing products ethically would add an unacceptable premium to everyday household products. It turns out that consumers are willing to shoulder small price rises in return for a product that they know has come from an ethical source.

Healing The North-South Divide

If the UK is to survive long enough to implement any kind of progressive political agenda, it is going to need to address the fundamental contradiction at the heart of modern Britain – everyone hates each other. An English parliament in Birmingham is an idea that has floated around the halls of Whitehall like the spectre of what might have once been. At this point, England’s myriad problems with itself won’t be solved so easily.

The north-south divide of England is a problem that has been building since the decline of England’s manufacturing sector. Empowering these left-behind communities to start their own enterprises and regain some control of their local economies is a vital stepping-stone towards a more unified nation.

Giving Power To The People

There are many things that progressive politicians are agreed upon – our NHS needs to be defended, not just propped up but funded properly to not only provide healthcare but to undertake vital medical research. The UK is, for the most part, more left-wing and more amenable to left-of-centre politics than the US is at the national level. Progressive politics in the UK is different to the US but is guided by the same principles.

One point of contention among progressives is the role of capitalism. Views in capitalism range from the more conservative reform and restrain approach, whereby capitalism’s worst excesses are tamed by proper regulation and regulators with fangs, to the ‘abolish and replace with the socialism’ approach. Many progressives see capitalism as a hurdle, others believe that a capitalist market is vital in ensuring that people have power beyond the ballot box.

In a capitalist market, consumers can vote with their wallets and can affect a business’s behaviour. Whether we do on an appreciable scale is another debate. Similarly, if people feel that businesses are not adhering to reasonable moral standards, they can start their own competing business and trade on their competitor’s shortcomings. In a relatively free market, anyone can take out Payday Loans to acquire some quick funds if they want to start their own business. At typically much higher than standard bank and finance company loans, this type of lending is available to the poorest members of society, which offers hope to anyone who has few borrowing options but wishes to become an entrepreneur. If an entrepreneur’s more ethical approach wins over consumers, they can prove the viability of progressive economics.

Consumers today are wary of big multinationals and are increasingly embracing small, independent outfits. Progressive politicians need to similarly embrace the small business community if they ever want to win over the hearts and minds of the UK as a whole.

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Thanks to Samantha Sophia on Unsplash for use of this photo.

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