Ahead of the third and final lecture in the Addleshaw Goddard City Series on "The City and the Future", we asked our clients what they believed should be the priorities when it comes to reshaping the City.
Investing for growth and rebalancing the economy clearly emerged as the key concerns; priorities that are shared by the new Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Richard Clayton, Partner, Addleshaw Goddard
On 24 November, London's former mayor Ken Livingstone will host the third of Addleshaw Goddard’s lectures looking at the challenges facing our clients in "The City and the Future". His will be the last in a series that has already seen well-attended events hosted by Robert Peston, currently the BBC's economics editor, and Richard Watson, the futurologist. Both explored the challenges facing the City's economy as we emerge from economic crisis into an uncertain future. Livingstone will now look at the political dimension. In particular, he will consider how the new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's brand of socialism might impact the prosperity of the City of London if he were to become prime minister.
When we asked our clients, ahead of Livingstone's lecture, about the policy objectives they would prioritise if they were tasked with reshaping the economy, we found clear demand for investment for growth and for a rebalancing of the economy to better prepare us should another banking crisis occur.
Corbyn is anti-austerity, and has also called for a rebalancing of the economy to avoid another banking crisis impacting on the economy in the same way as the 2007/2008 crisis. At a time of record low interest rates that show no sign of increasing very significantly, the argument for both government and private sector investment in the City's infrastructure is one that has also been championed by the Labour leader, who has called for the establishment of a National Investment Bank to promote infrastructure upgrades and support innovation.
When Peston spoke about the challenges facing the economy, he highlighted, amongst other things, the extent to which the UK economy relies on services – at a time of slow or negative growth in manufacturing – as of potentially serious concern. Many governments have talked of the need for rebalancing the economy, and for strengthening the manufacturing sector but this is yet to be achieved. Livingstone will look at how Corbyn's approach might differ from what has gone before and its potential impact on City firms.
During the course of the Labour leadership contest, and indeed since, there has been much debate within the opposition as to what a credible economic plan might look like. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has talked about introducing a full-blown Glass-Steagall system to separate retail banking from investment banking, and has suggested radical reforms of the auditing regime. There could be serious change ahead if the electorate gets behind such policies.
Livingstone supports many of Corbyn's ideas and, during his time as London's first elected mayor, made big changes to the capital's transport infrastructure and sought to address energy and environmental concerns. In this lecture, he will look at the impact of Corbynomics, as well as the environmental challenges that still exist; at investment, employment, transport and sustainability; and at the need for job creation to create a skilled workforce for the future.
The way forward
The City and the Future lecture series was conceived to bring together influencers and businesses so that we can all learn, share and form opinions on future thinking within the City. It is clear that the most successful businesses in the future will be those that are forward-looking and willing to implement change ahead of their competitors.
Author and business strategy consultant Richard Watson kicked off the lecture series at the start of this month, and BBC economics editor Robert Peston followed soon afterwards.
As with the first two events, this final lecture promises to generate fascinating discussion, and we look forward to sharing the insights we gain with our clients.
Please note that attendance to "The City and the Future" is by invitation only.