Neil McInroy: “The existing economic model is failing too many people”

At the halfway point of the INSP 2017 Global Street Paper Summit, delegates welcomed second keynote speaker, Neil McInroy – an economist and CEO of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) – to Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.

After hearing about INSP’s new Intensive Learning Programme – where emerging new street papers spent time with more established INSP members to learn about street paper operations and development – from both participants and hosts, McInroy took to the stage with bounding enthusiasm.

Neil McInroy addresses delegates. Credit: Mark Wheeler

McInroy, who describes his organisation as a “think and do” tank, conveyed his seemingly endless passion for working towards social justice and improving local economies.

He rattled through a speech filled with witty one liners, a ruthless dismantling of what he calls “our rigged system” and, perhaps most impressively, a hopeful and infectious optimism.

On stage, he said: “The existing economic model is failing too many people and too many places.

“But it’s not a matter of if change will come, but when economic justice will be achieved.”

Describing himself as an economist who works “outside the mainstream”, he exclaimed to the laughter of the crowd: “I’m an economist, but I’ve went a bit weird.

“We (CLES) are polygamists: we are married to economic development and policy, but we’re actually in love with the alternative, the disruptive, the punk, the hippy, the difference. Our job is to try and infect the mainstream with that.”

He stressed to street paper delegates the reality of how we interact with the economy and affirmed the work that street papers do to help create a more equal society.

He said: “We have an amazing array of crises. We need to remember that the economy is not distant and sterile; it is part of our homes and our hearts.

“Now, we are seeing a new social flourishing that can tackle those problems and create a better world.

“You are revealing the world through your street papers. I see you as part of an age of experimentalism that is damaging society.”

Delegates seemed to be enthralled with McInroy’s desire for change and, in a question and answer session after his keynote presentation, one delegate compared his words to the Dalai Lama!

Delegates ask Neil McInroy questions. Credit: Mark Wheeler

Afterwards, McInroy sat down with INSP for an interview in which he discussed in more details his admiration for the work street papers are doing in the world. The feature will be available on the News Service, as well as the INSP website, in the coming weeks.

Below, watch the live stream of McInroy’s entire keynote.