I have now given in for pressure from comrades on the other side of the North Sea and translated my congress speech from the last weekend. The Swedish original can be found here.
Speech held by Peter Gustavsson during the Social Democratic Labour Party’s extra congress March 17-18, 2007.
Can we afford justice? No, says the new Swedish government while it cuts in our social security in order to cut taxes. And they cut taxes the most for the very rich.
But we know that justice is not only morally right but also utterly productive – the economic recipe of success for Sweden and Scandinavia. Also the international finance papers now decribe how the investments in education, health and security during change make us one of the world’s most successful countries.
But it hasn’t always been like that. During the 80’s and 90’s the debate was dominated by the neo liberals’ idea that justice is costly and that we can’t afford it. Unequality grew, also with Social Democratic governments. Despite all good reforms and good intentions, a divide appeared between what we said and what we did.
I our Swedish society today private wealth is expanding at a record speed. Sales figures for flat-screen TVs and housing prices in the bigger cities are growing rapidly.
At the same time, we’re experiencing a public poverty. This happens as the public sector’s resources are not allowed to expand as much as private consumption expands. The consequence is the richest get more freedom while other peoples’ freedom is limited.
We can afford justice, becouse justice is an engine for development and prosperity. We can afford following the motto that “Only the best is good enough for the people”.
Economic policy and unemployment played an important part in our losing the election, while we all know that we Social Democrats can do better than that. We need to work with our self esteem and our belief in our own idea that justice is productive. We Social Democrats from the Uppsala county want the party board to appoint a working group to look over and sharpen our economic policy.
Don’t believe those who say that we can’t afford progressive reforms. Sweden can’t afford injustices – we can afford justice!