Letter to the Prime Minister urging him to radically rewrite global financial rules

14 November 2008 | Letters

13 November 2008

Dear Prime Minister,

As you are aware, the financial crisis has prompted an economic crisis which will cause great hardship for people in the UK and around the world. The poorest and most vulnerable, already suffering from unprecedented rises in food and commodity prices, will be hardest hit. The current economic system has created great inequalities of wealth and power which are not only morally unjust, but also economically and environmentally inefficient and unsustainable. Tackling poverty and inequality is an essential part of recovering from this crisis.

This is also a crisis for the institutions that govern the world economy, and the failed policies they have pursued. The international financial and economic system affects us all and therefore must be governed in a democratic and accountable manner. The G20 summit in Washington on November 15th can only be an initial step on the road to fundamental reform. The UN should lead a process of comprehensive reform which allows all governments and civil society to participate, in a transparent and open manner.

At the heart of the new approach should be a recognition that effective government action is needed to manage economies sustainably, and that past approaches have failed. The current structures and policies actively restrict the ability of governments to do what is needed to serve the public interest, and must be changed.

The critical changes include:

  • Democratisation of international economic institutions to make the system more accountable to all people, particularly the poorest.
  • A major recovery plan that puts people and the environment at its heart. Investment in a low-carbon economy is both an urgent priority to prevent climate chaos, and the most sensible economic strategy for the future.
  • The regulation of finance, including:
    1. Effectively regulating complex financial instruments and practices and the parties involved in them;
    2. Tackling tax havens and tax avoidance by multinational companies and wealthy individuals; and
    3. Radically improving governance and transparency on financial markets.
  • Fair and just systems and rules for international trade and debt

We believe that the objective should be to create a system that reduces inequality, creates jobs, protects vulnerable citizens, ensures a healthy environment, and works to eradicate poverty.

We look forward to an early opportunity to discuss these issues with you in more depth.


  • Richard Miller, Executive Director, ActionAid UK
  • Rt Rev John Rawsthorne, Bishop of Hallam
  • Nick Roseveare, Chief Executive, BOND
  • Jesse Griffiths, Coordinator, Bretton Woods Project
  • Chris Bain, Executive Director, CAFOD
  • Daleep Mukarji, Director, Christian Aid
  • Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth, England Wales and Northern Ireland
  • John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
  • David Cockroft, General Secretary, International Transport Workers´ Federation
  • Dr Muhamed Abdul Bari, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain
  • Nick Dearden, Director, Jubilee Debt Campaign
  • Graham Bennett, Director, One World Action
  • David McCullough, Acting Chief Executive, Oxfam GB
  • Sheila Davie, Executive Director, RESULTS UK
  • Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, Save the Children UK
  • Alan Smith, Chair, Stop AIDS Campaign
  • John Christensen, Director, Tax Justice Network
  • Matthew Frost, CEO, Tearfund
  • Brendan Barber, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
  • Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
  • John Hilary, Director, War on Want
  • Benedict Southworth, Director, World Development Movement
  • Charles Badenoch, CEO, World Vision UK
  • David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF-UK
  • Simon Trace, CEO, Practical Action