Something strange is happening in British politics. I’m not talking about the divisive quagmire of Brexit or the frightening rise of xenophobia. I’m talking about a broad cross-party agreement that the economic model of the last half a century has failed. I’m referring to an (almost) ubiquitous call across the multi-coloured manifestos of the 2017 election to start building “an economy that works” – for everyone.
Isn’t it a bit odd to find this exact same turn of phrase across the political spectrum: blue, red, orange, green? (Only Ukip has no truck with an economy that works.) It looks a little bit like someone has been copying someone else’s homework; and it isn’t entirely clear who. When Theresa May first used the phrase, on the steps of Downing Street back in July 2016, she made it sound like her own idea. But in fact she lifted the language – lock, stock and barrel – from a speech Jeremy Corbyn gave at the launch of Labour’s inaugural state of the economy conference. He promised to “create an economy that works for all, not just the few”.