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The Observer view on the future of work | Observer editorial

We must focus our energies on helping those whose jobs will be removed by automation

In his speech at Labour’s conference in Brighton last week, Jeremy Corbyn made an astute observation: “2017 may be the year when politics finally caught up with the crash of 2008.” The financial crisis not only sent shockwaves rippling through the global economy: it sounded a warning bell that all was not well with a weakly regulated economic model powered by consumer debt bubbles and rapid house price growth. Yet the political response has been utterly inadequate. Despite promises to the contrary, we have returned to the same old growth model of debt-fuelled spending and the stark intergenerational divide has got worse, not better.

Almost a decade on, there are signs of a growing public appetite for change, from the rejection of the status quo in the Brexit referendum to the surge in support for Labour that denied Theresa May a majority in June’s general election. Both parties have acknowledged there are fundamental problems in Britain’s economic model and have committed to reform it. But Britain now stands on the cusp of an ideological choice: compare and contrast Corbyn’s challenge with May’s robust defence of free markets last week.

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