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Coming up




Lord Sainsbury

 Lord Sainsbury

The Observer Lecture 2013: Progressive Capitalism
Thu 16 May 2013, 18.15-19.15 (PAST EVENT)
St George's Bristol (see map)


Lord Sainsbury delivers the second Observer Festival of Ideas lecture. His topic is Progressive Capitalism. Progressive capitalists believe in the crucial role of institutions, the need for the state to design institutions and the use of social justice (fairness) as an important measure of a country’s economic performance. Sainsbury will show how a progressive political economy can be used by politicians and policymakers to produce a programme of economic change through reforming the UK’s equity markets, corporate governance, innovation and education and training institutions with the state having an enabling role rather than the command-and-control stance of traditional socialism or the minimalist role of neoliberalism.

This event is in association with Business West.


David Sainsbury read History and Psychology at King’s College, Cambridge, and then joined J Sainsbury plc in 1963. He became Lord Sainsbury of Turville in October, 1997. He was appointed Minister of Science and Innovation from July 1998 until November 2006, and had responsibility for the Office of Science and Technology, Innovation, Space, the Bioscience and Chemical Industries, and the Patent Office. He is the founder of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and in 2003 received, on behalf of the Sainsbury family, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy. He is the author of two Fabian pamphlets Government and Industry: A New Partnership and Science and Innovation Policies in a Global Economy and is co-author with Christopher Smallwood of Wealth Creation and Jobs published by the Public Policy Centre. In 2007 he produced for the Government a review of the Government’s science and innovation policies, The Race to The Top. Visit his website at

1 Comment »


  1. Barry Ramshaw says:
    May 17th, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    During his talk, Lord Sainsbury suggested that the British public were dissatisfied with a great deal of what currently passes for acceptable economic practice. I couldn’t help thinking that most of us are also tired of being lectured on how to put things right by former neo-liberal fellow-travellers who were on the bridge as the ship bore down slowly and inevitably onto the rocks.
    For what seemed like the thousandth time, I heard how nobody had foreseen the Great Crash of ’08. I must have imagined all those articles and books by Paul Krugman, Larry Elliott, Nouriel Roubini et al that predicted with some accuracy how it was all going to end in tears.
    No matter. Lord Sainsbury (who, it seems, woke up and smelled the coffee partly as a result of capitalism bringing its unwanted attentions to bear on his beloved family firm) was on hand to explain how to put it all right.
    However, we were also told that it was no good simply mouthing platitudes about “responsible capitalism” – action is needed. Quoting Simon Hoggart, Lord Sainsbury informed us that was no-one was standing up arguing for “irresponsible capitalism”.
    Hmm. At the end, I argued that in fact plenty of people are pushing for irresponsible capitalism – they are just careful to couch their arguments in terms of “choice”, “PFI”, “reorganising the NHS”, “no regulation” and so on. I also suggested that the coalition government were perfectly aware of both what is wrong with the current system and analyses such as tonight’s explaining how things could be improved. However, there will be little change until we have a government that actually cares about the growing social inequality and grotesque income inequality that our not-at-all reformed economic system produces (rather than viewing them as an inevitable by-product of the ideological dismantling of the state).
    In his response, Lord Sainsbury chose not to address these points, and instead merely reiterated that he thought that he had made it plain that things needed to be made better – which he had, of course.
    Indeed, we should all be grateful that Lord Sainsbury has seen the light and is now striving to ensure that we suffer no longer from the twin evils of rapacious capitalism and inept government. Better late than never. Hopefully.


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