Report by Paul Scarrott, Political Education Officer, Heeley Constituency Labour Party
Sheffield Heeley Constituency Labour Party's policy forum on the economy, business and trade was launched last week.
Twenty nine Labour Party members from Heeley and other parts of Sheffield discussed the national and local economy.
The forum was the first of many opportunities to contribute to the development of one of the eight strands of national Labour's policy in the National Policy Forum.
It took place against the backdrop of the continuing deterioration in the economy and living standards under the Tory government.
A key principle of the forum was that economics is for everyone, not just the so-called experts: most of whom failed to foresee the 2008 Crash and who have supported the failed policy of austerity.
The discussion concentrated on how to build on the success of Labour setting the agenda in the recent general election on improving the living standards of the many.
The forum gave members an opportunity to discuss the importance of the breakthrough in Labour's economic policy under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell of borrowing to invest, not borrowing to consume.
Alongside that members considered the progress made in winning the national debate that austerity is a choice, not an economic necessity.
A choice which is not motivated by the desire to reducing the deficit and the national debt, but primarily to boost profits; reduce wages as a share of the economy; tear up the post-war settlement and to replace the welfare state with the small state.
Much of the discussion looked at the terrible consequences of the chronic levels of underinvestment in the British economy.
Members welcomed the proposals under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership to create a national and local investment banks.
There was a recognition that public investment in infrastructure, housing, education and training are the cornerstones of the regeneration of the economy.
The determination of the Labour Party not to blame immigrants or minority communities for the country's economic woes was also seen as an important policy asset.
The national proposals to renationalise the railways and other key sectors of the economy was also met with approval.
How we defeat the Tory hard Brexit and the plans to use Brexit to lower living standards was very much on people's minds.
There were some thoughtful debates about the benefits of of maintaining membership of the single market, tariff free access and freedom of movement.
People were also keen to build on the success of the national general election campaign in winning hearts and minds of millions by changing the narrative about the country's economic priorities.
Numerous contributions also raised important questions about the potential for local councils to play a role in economic regeneration under a Labour government with investment in areas such as housing, Green Energy, skills and transport.
The forum was very much the beginning of a discussion rather than the finished article.
A big range of topics for future consideration was suggested in the final discussion.
Members were keen to meet regularly to discuss issues in more detail and with invited speakers who could provide in-depth analysis.
A programme for future discussions will be shared after further consideration by Heeley CLP.