Last week, I chaired what turned out to be a passionate, courageous and grounded debate between three intellectuals from each point of the political triangle: conservative, classical liberal and social democrat.

Dr Mark Pennington set out the inescapable reality of imperfect knowledge and incomplete rationality in human actors in defence of markets. Richard Murphy argued for a “cappucino” of state and market, flat rejecting neoliberalism. Jesse Norman MP critiqued the flaws in the theories of neo classical economics and completely disagreed with Richard. You can find the video here:

The Future of Political Economy from Steve Baker on Vimeo.

It was a huge pleasure to introduce a fascinating, pugnacious set of presentations and to chair a lively Q&A. I know everyone present appreciated such a rigourous, frank and challenging yet good-natured conversation.

In the end, I was encouraged that all speakers were united in their desire to promote human flourishing. We may disagree about ways and means, but there seems to be no disagreement that the objective is a prosperous and fulfilling society. 

I am extremely grateful to the speakers for taking part.


Dr Mark Pennington is the author of Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy. He is Reader in Public Policy and Politial Economy at Queen Mary University London and a winner of the Atlas Institute for Economic Research prize for “contributions to the understanding of spontaneous order”. His speciality is the implications of Hayekian and public choice concepts for the evaluation of social-economic systems.

Richard Murphy is presently completing The Courageous State: Rethinking economics and the role of government for publication later this year. Richard specialises in tax and he is Director of Tax Research LLP. He is the principal author of books including “Tax us if you can”.

Richard has worked for the TUC and others on the tax gap in the UK. He has written extensively on tackling the UK’s deficit without imposing cuts on the most vulnerable in society.

Jesse Norman is Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire and author of The Big Society – the anatomy of the new politics. Educated at Eton and Merton College, Oxford, Jesse left his job with Barclays in the City in 1997 to teach at University College London.

Jesse was selected to stand for Parliament at an open primary in 2006.

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