Living with the industrial revolution


          There was much grand drama, technical wizadry and fine moments in the Olympics opening ceremony.  There was also a look at history, contrasting a rural Merry pre industrial  Britain with the powerful dark satanic mills and forges of the industrial revolution.

          The UK’s attitude towards the Industrial revolution has always been complex and bitter sweet.  The Labour thesis has roundly condemned enterprise capitalism for industrialising on the grounds that factories  exploited labour, paid poor wages, and ignored health and safety. At the same time the Labour tradition has praised the emergence of unions and collective action, made possible by large scale factory organisation, and wants the UK to be a strong industrial power with more factories than we currently sport. Wiser heads in the Labour movement accept that industrialisation raised overall living standards and permitted the creation of more better paid jobs. They acknowledge that there was a big problem of rural poverty and poor living standards before the first  factories sprung from the rural landscape.

              The Conservative side was more often than not defensive of the agrarian society and critical of the new men of industry who became the new rich. Conservatives had to make their peace with the industrial interests as they became successful. There was always a strong  strand of Conservative social action wanting improvements in the regulation of working conditions and urging the abolition of child labour and other abuses, to match the work of the Trade Unionists.  

               The truth is, however, that many people volunteered to leave the land and travel to the cities to find work. By modern standards the wages were poor, the hours too long and the housing conditons unacceptable. They were, however, an improvement for some on the poverty and poor housing in rural areas.  Britain became the workshop of the world, and with it one of the richest countries on the planet, with living standards on average much higher than in the many agricultural societies abroad.

                 Today, as we survey the progress of countries from poverty to better living standards, it is normal for the successful ones to have to undergo their own industrial revolution, producing a vast increase in homes in cities and usually starting with long hours and low paid jobs in factories. If you wish to have a balanced view of the process of idustrialisation it is important to remember that many came to the cities to better themselves and raise their incomes. Industry did produce many good cheap products, to allow the poor to enjoy some of the goods and services of life that were once the prerogative of the rich.  It was not all dark satanic mills and exploiting mill owners getting rich whilst suppressing everyone else. In the UK there is a proud tradition too  of the garden city, the enlightened employer, the cleaner and more humane factory, the movement from low wages for low output to high productivity and better pay.

              To understand modern Britain we not only need to celebrate social progress through campaigns and Parliamentary action to raise standards and guide conduct. We also need to understand just how important industrialisation was to advancing living standards and giving the UK a leading place in world markets. It was not just dirty chimneys but also china plates, metal cutlery and colourful clothes for all.

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  1. rose
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    The enduring economic lesson from all of this is that governments could not stop growth when they wanted to. Just as now they cannot start it. The conditions have to be right, a very complex state of affairs. But they can affect those conditions a little.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Government can indeed stop growth very easily and they have done so. They over tax, over regulate, restrict planning, subsidise daft things and waste money hand and fist as we have seen.

      They just need to get out of the way for a change.

      • rose
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        But they don’t want to stop it now! In the 18th and 19th centruries they did, and couldn’t.

        Of course they didn’t know how to stop it then – now we do.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Politicians may not “want” to stop it – but they clearly always fail to stop the growth of the state sector parasites, the endless growth in daft regulations, the growth in the EU burden, and the endless restrictions on business. So the state sector just kills it nevertheless or at least makes it largely go elsewhere. Somewhere where the parasitic burden is lower where they do not have gender insurance laws, have to pay for the PIGIS, silly happiness indexes, expensive “green” energy tosh and tax rates of 50% +.

          Perhaps with 20% of GDP spent by the state rather than 50%.

        • Peter Geany
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          Summed up perfectly. I would just add that politicians nearly always think that they are the key to everything. Very few understand that mostly they are the lock.

      • Christopher Ekstrom
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        The NHS must be dismantled. As Baroness Thatcher rightly pointed out it was always the stumbling block that her reforms couldn’t overcome. Now that we know reform was not enough it is priority one in the coming free England.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Given how badly the a certain private sector care home did in caring for the elderly and mentally ill it’s clear that private sector healthcare providers are not always better than the NHS. As long as profit remains the primary goal of private healthcare firms they will continue to provide substandard care, poor training, and no monitoring.

          • Christopher Ekstrom
            Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            Written like a true Big Government zombie. Soviet Communism must have been your ideal. Fortunately you never had to exist there. The NHS must go!!!

    • David in Kent
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Governments, supported by the fashionable comentators, certainly can stop growth and destroy industries as they have, one after another, over the years since WWII.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Indeed but the main protection for the exploited worker is another job offer if he does not like the one he has. Not the endless laws and regulations so beloved of politicians on both sides. These actually decrease the alternative jobs available and thus the options.

    Both parties are, to a large degree, against industry, for environmental reasons, irrational political or other reasons, perhaps due to the, now totally discredited, carbon catastrophe exaggerations – so pushed by many world governments, the state sector and the BBC. They further like to distort “the invisible hand of the market” with absurd laws, planning restrictions, mad subsidies and uneven taxes. This, to ensure, things are done far less efficiently here than in many other countries. Will the obvious result that that other countries are where they are mainly done.

    Hence no growth few well paid jobs other than in the state sector and a few lawyers and others.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in the by-election following the resignation of Louise Mensch one of Cameron’s A list of, self publicist, minor celebs.

    I tend to think the Conservative will perhaps come third after Labour and Ukip as the voters express their opinion on Cameron’s socialist, tax borrow and waste, expensive green tosh energy, weak pound, no growth, over regulate, over tax, ever bigger state, pensioner robbing QE, money for the PIGIS, pro EU, say one thing do the opposite, dishonest, and his “happiness index” regime.

    We shall soon see.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      So Nick Clegg will now oppose the Tories’ boundary changes. Well no one would expect the LibDems to act with any honour or act in the interest of fair representation across the constituencies would they?

      David Cameron should clearly have got the boundary changes in place first thing, negotiation is not his strong point (PR lies, photo ops and spin are). But then it seems from his current chosen direction, that he has very little interest in winning the next election anyway.

      Reply: This website forecast these events last week. Mr Cameron could not complete the boundary changes as they required an Independent Commission to consider the new boundaries and to hear representations before the final version can be approved by Parliament.

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        Guido Fawkes has an interesting take on this: the LibDems revolted much more fiercely over budget cuts.

        • Mike Stallard
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

          Sorry – over the fees for University!

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        He should clearly not have given the Libdems their silly referendum on AV until after the boundary arrangements were in place. Also he should have insisted on some sort of EU referendum at the same time.

        Of course he should just have won outright anyway, as anyone even a stuffed bear who put forwards a sensible Tory agenda would have done – against hapless Brown.

        Clearly the LibDems are self interested to the very core. They have no interest in fair democracy, recovery or the interests of the country – just those of the LibDems, an ever bigger state and the quack green religion.

        • Christopher Ekstrom
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          The LibDems are the text-book example of quacks & cranks. A bunch of nuts in utter confusion. Only a pie-eyed Scot could make any sense out of that lot. They served Cast Iron very well indeed. You passed over rather lightly the open conspiracy he engaged in to lose the election for the Tory party (& win for himself). None dare call him TRAITOR! But he is both Pilate & Judas. Philby had nothing on this PM.

        • zorro
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, a stuffed bear wouldn’t need to have much of a Tory agenda, just avoid saying PC, anti-growth, green tosh slogans. In fact, a mute stuffed bear would have been more effective because it wouldn’t have enacted harmful EU anti competitive neasures, or wasted money on the happiness index and such like….


      • rose
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        I don’t agree that the PM lacks diplomatic skills. He has displayed them both at home and abroad in various ways.

        With not enough conservative voters existing in the country, and their being further outnumbered all the time by incomers, the PM is in a very weak position, and Boris, DD, or whoever the malcontents want instead, would be too, but wouldn’t be nearly so good at the diplomacy. In a hopelessly weak position, as Disraeli was – when there was an inbuilt overwhelming majority of Liberal votes in the country. Disraeli suffered many successive electoral defeats as leader of the opposition before finally becoming PM in old age, but DC has made it to Downing St in one – with GO’s help – albeit in a minority administration.

        They “played a blinder”, as one intelligent socialist observer said, over AV; they have done the same over Lords Reform. Let us wait and see whether they pull off boundary reform. It is over a year away. As Mr R says, the Boundary Commission still comes into it, despite the Labour Party’s shameless attempt to rig things in its own favour for ever.

        The continuing danger is that the Labour Party will seduce the Liberals into bringing down the government, on the pretence that they will form a coalition with them next time, and give them their beloved PR. But Simon Hughes won’t become DPM, and the Liberals won’t get their ski lift to permanent power, because the socialists will almost certainly get a majority if the boundaries aren’t brought up to date, through the force of psephological swings. DC and GO understand this. Does everyone else? Including the callow Clegg? Perhaps it has been gently explained to him, so he is making a show of kicking up now, before the conference season, and while normal people are concentrating on the Olympics.

        • rose
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          PS the Liberal FO minister and diplomatist gave an equally unconvincing performance on Today earlier. They talk the talk, as they say nowadays, but will they walk the plank?

        • David in Kent
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

          Great to see a really balanced and thoughtful comment on a conservative website.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

          Well it is hard to know how many conservative voters there actually are. This as there is no real conservative party offering any sensible, uplifting, small state, lower tax, independent of the EU, vision.

          Just three pro EU socialist parties.

          • Max Dunbar
            Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

            A bit like Scotland. You can have any colour you like as long as it’s red.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          @ Rose “I don’t agree that the PM lacks diplomatic skills”

          Well perhaps he has but he certainly lacks a compass. Diplomatically leading people over a cliff is not very helpful. The sense of direction is needed first before anything else.

          • rose
            Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

            Don’t forget he was at Michael Howard’s side when those “are you thinking what we are thinking” policies were rejected by the electorate. He was there when the previous 2 leaders were rejected too. Full-blooded conservatives, all of them, and the electorate wouldn’t vote for them. Why should that change when there is mass unemployment and all the rest of it, including a bigger population, on lower real incomes, and more people wanting pensions and “care”?

          • zorro
            Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            Funny that….because the polls were rather favourable when Cameron was speaking supposedly in a eurosceptic way, but it all fell apart with his weasel words coming unstuck and his weak debating performances during the election. We’ll see how clever Cameron looks at the next election….whenever that might be.


          • lifelogic
            Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            @ Rose

            The electorate would not vote for Howard because they still remembered the idiotic John Major and his ERM the 15%+ mortgages and Bliar had not yet messed up the economy.

            Major destroyed the record of relative economic competence the Tories had, as Cameron also now doing.

        • A.Sedgwick
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          For me Cameron has shown since his elevation to prominence in 2005 no political strategy just the desire to become PM by ad hoc tactics i.e. flavours of the month – remember matching Labour’ s spending, Afghanistan, windmills, overseas aid and of course the cast iron guarantee. He is an opportunist who gets himself in many holes then attempts to soft soap his way out.

          • zorro
            Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

            This resonates with what I hear from people who knew him well in the past….


      • backofanenvelope
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        Perhaps someone can enlighten me? The Boundary Commission is required to adjust the parliamentary boundaries to achieve rough equality between voters. It is supposed to do this anyway. Do its normal results require parliamentary approval? Why don’t you Tories just drop the idea of reducing the number of MPs? The idea of a drop to 600 is just another arbitrary decision – no one has ever explained why 600 is better than 650 or 500.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          Totally agree with backofanenvelope–the drop to 600 taints what the Tories seek to do to their own considertable disadvantage in eyes of voters. Typical these days.

          • rose
            Posted August 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

            How can it be to their advantage to upset their own people? The individual conservative MPs who will lose their constituencies in the cull? I agree we haven’t been given a good reason for this.

      • Disaffected
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        So will Cameron sack the Lib Dem ministers who vote against boundary change on a whipped vote? Or will he be weak and allow an open vote?

        When Lib Dems speak out against the Tories why is there never a response? Why don’t the Tories correct any inaccurate statement like yesterday. Many reports suggest s.23 of the coalition agreement, that AV was in exchange for boundary change not Lords reform, 21 MPs voting against tuition fee hike, Clegg’s campaign of “no more broken promises ie EU in/out referendum and then whipped his MPs to vote against a referendum that the majority of the public want.

        The greatest tragedy is Cameron is now viewed the same as Clegg- you cannot believe a word he says.

        John, “…Parliamentary action to raise standards and guide conduct..” not in this lifetime. Politicians cannot raise the standards of Parliament let alone anything else. Sleaze and corruption regularly reported and nothing done. Where is the Kelly report at the moment?

        • uanime5
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          Well since the Lib Dems didn’t get AV why should the Conservatives get their boundary changes? You can’t expect someone to support you when you give them nothing in return.

          Also given that the Lords reform passed with a majority of 338 it’s seems odd that Cameron dropped it because 91 of his backbenchers objected.

          Reply: The Lib Dems got their AV referendum for the boundary changes. The reason Mr Cameron had to drop it was Labour would not have voted for all the votes needed for the Bill, though they did support 2nd reading.

          • uanime5
            Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

            John as the Lords reform bill was 462 in favour, 124 opposed, and 64 abstaining this means that even if all Labour’s 258 MPs abstained during the third reading and all the MPs who abstained during the second reading voted against this bill it would still pass by 204 to 192 votes. I would only be rejected if most of the Labour MPs voted against it, which is unlikely given how they voted during the second reading.

            Also John if the Conservatives are going to refuse to implement the part of the Coalition agreement on the Lords reform because they don’t like it they shouldn’t be surprised if the Lib Dems refuse to vote for the parts of the Coalition agreement they don’t like. The referendum on AV has no bearing on this.

            Reply: Labour would not have voted against 3rd Reading, but they would have tabled a series of amendments which Mr Clegg disliked, including a referendum on the proposals, which Conservative rebels would have supported. It left Mr Clegg out of control of much of the detail of the Bill.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Their various oppositions have done an excellent job of planting the lie that what is being done is somehow underhand and of benefit to the Tories. It is rather a removal of a disbenefit which is a different thing altogether. Even lifelogic talks about “the Tories’ boundary changes”. The Tories ought to make play on this and illuminate for the voters what a two-faced bunch of shameless lightweights the Liberals are. And that’s apart from the fact that there were no commitments in any event along lines Clegg is bleating about. Hughes on the TV News last night was simply risible with his “Now they are not going to get something they want”. Never heard the like. I hope and believe this stance will turn out to be yet another thundering Clegg misjudgement. He needs to be put back in his box.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

          Given that these reforms are predicted to give the Conservatives an extra 20 seats in Parliament they’re quite clearly beneficial to the Conservatives.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        They are not “Tories’ boundary changes” and the removal of an unfair disadvantage is not the same as a benefit. Why cannot the Tories make this clear–it is the absolute truth after all? Hughes on TV News was particularly risible with his “Now they are not going to get something they want”. What a creep. Never seen the like and I hope this posturing turns out to be yet another thundering misjudgement by Clegg. The people aren’t fools.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

          Forgive duplication–first above seemed to have been deleted.

      • A different Simon
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        Clegg is complaining that Parliament has held the Executive to account .

        This is absolutely scandalous yet nobody in the media seems to have pulled them up on this .

        I’m sure that all perceptive backbenchers in the LibDems like Simon Hughes foresaw this and don’t really see it as a problem . Clegg’s protestations are clearly for the camera and the unquestioning .

        Cameron and Clegg , like Blair , are not in their heart of hearts parliamentarians . They see themselves as dictators .

        This is one of the things which so disappointed me about the Lib Dems .
        I thought initially that they were principled and had a conviction that proportional representation was morally right .
        During the referendum it became obvious that the only reason the people at the top were in favour of PR was because they though it would get them more seats .

        • uanime5
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

          Given that the Lord’s reform was voted for with a majority of 338 MPs and was dropped because 91 Conservative MPs opposed it this is a clear case of the executive opposing the will of Parliament for political gain. Clegg was right to condemn Cameron for this.

          • A different Simon
            Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            What is Clegg right to condemn Cameron for ?

            Failure of 91 MP’s to do what they are told ?

            The majority of 650 MP’s being nothing but jobsworth lobby fodder doing exactly what they are told and never once rebelling against the party line has helped get the country in such a mess .

            Over the past 15 years they have been signing off on expenditure when even the estimated amounts have been missing .

            We need MP’s with conviction . Not rubber stampers .

    • uanime5
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Regulations are far more effective at stopping job offer than alternative employment has ever been. Alternative employment only works if a few employers are bad but most are good, while regulations protect the employees when all employers are bad.

      Also there’s no growth because the Government is slashing public sector jobs, resulting in more unemployment and fewer people who are spending in the real economy. High levels of inflation to ensure the Government can borrow cheaply also haven’t helped.

      • A different Simon
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        Sorry but it’s either an employers market or an employees market .

        If you are out of work , over zealous regulations make it more difficult for you to get one .

        People in the public sector do many of the jobs that the rest of us would not want to do like social work with abused children . They provide fantastic services like health and education .

        On the other hand there are an awful lot of people working for the council in make work tasks which serve no use other than to make a nuisance of themselves – eg people in L.E.A.’s inconveniencing teachers who have better things to do .

        My front hedge was overgrown and I got a letter from the one dept of the council (wokingham) saying that they were worried about rodents (I kid you not) and a letter from a completely different department saying that a hedge was impinging on the pavement .

        Does it really take two separate sets of people walking round the estate and two people sending a condescending letter , two huge pensions , two workstations , two car parking spaces and two stamps ?

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        There’s no growth because the government’s annual deficit has to be reduced, which means tax increases or public expenditure reductions or both. People in the public sector can protect as many of their jobs as possible by agreeing to a pay freeze until their remuneration matches that in the private sector. The last time I checked public sector pay still averaged 8% more than private sector pay, with the public sector ahead for all levels of educational achievement except degree level (a sign that the civil service cannot use its best brains productively?).

        In the north of England, the discrepancy is greater (13%) because public sector remuneration is usually negotiated centrally, whereas in the private sector there are local going rates. Some of the people enjoying the highest standard of living are those who work in the medical services and the social services above a certain level.

        Another public sector abuse is that you get an annual increment for each extra year of service, regardless of whether or not you have been promoted. And if you talk of productivity, then public sector productivity decreased under Labour.

        Of course, we don’t want deman to collapse. £1 of tax reductions for every £2 of public expenditure reductions would do nicely.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          Well despite all the reductions in public sector spending and sector job cuts the deficit is still increasing because the Government borrowing is still increasing.

          Given that nurses, doctors, and teachers in the public sector are paid less than those in the private sector I take it you have no objection to their salaries not being frozen. I take it you also won’t demand that social services, the police, courts, fire fighters, the army, Councillors, and MPs have a pay freeze because they have no private sector counterparts. So who exactly is going to have their pay frozen?

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

          It is actually about 48% more for the state sector worker – when pensions are taken into account and they work far fewer hours and take far more sick days.

  3. fox in sox
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    “where theres muck theres brass”

    Industry and manufacturing are now high tech with British companies like Rolls Royce and GKN doing very well. The key to future success and growth ? Strong educational policy to encourage real science and engineering enthusiasm, and affordable energy.

    Germany is not a cheap labour economy yet is a manufacturing giant. It is their wealth that comes from this that is the reason weaker euro economies are lining up to beg from Germany.

    We could do a lot worse than emulate their economy and sound fiscal policies. I want to see us up with the Germans not Down with the Greeks.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      I understand that Rolls Royce Aerospace, one a the few top quality engineering companies left, pay new (very top quality Cambridge University post graduate engineering graduates) well under £30,000 PA. Not very much after tax/NI/studen loan repayments to live and buy a decent house – even in Derby. (Less than 30% of an MP’s total remuneration (in just salary and pension).

      Yet second rate often dim lawyers and bankers can earn far/far more than that often doing nothing of any real use. Sort out the banking, state sector and legal rackets that throttle the country – this seems to be the main message.

      • A different Simon
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        The only reason why Rolls Royce have not been sold off to foreign owners is because they can’t be sold off .

        Due to their defence business the Govt would blocked it .

        Starter pay , allowances and pension package for a Met police constable before overtime is about £45,000 . Significantly more than for a teacher , engineer or the supposedly well paid job of software engineer .

        • Winston Smith
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          And potential retirement aged 48.

      • David Price
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        You also might want to sort out the buy-to-let sector which is getting cheap loans at savers and pensioners expense on the one hand and soaking up much of disposable income on the other.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:23 am | Permalink

          They are not getting very cheap loans at the moment as the bank are taking very large margins – anyway do you want rented accommodation to be affordable or not? If landlords pay more for interest they will have to charge more rent or just stop renting and sell off.

          • David Price
            Posted August 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

            Affordable rent yes but I feel far too much money and debt is tied up in property which only transfers wealth, with the finance sector and government taking their cut, it doesn’t generate wealth let alone exports.

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

            It is not “tied up” when you buy a property the money transfers to the vendor who has it to do what they want with – in what way is it “tied up”?

            House prices are just a transfer value.

  4. Pete the Bike
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    To understand modern Britain we need to realise that all progress has been brought about by private enterprise. The state has retarded and slowed improvements in every area of health and welfare. There would be no wealth, no security and no food on the table without business. The state can steal and threaten but never innovate or produce.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink


    • Bazman
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      The state has put in much of the infrastructure and education that has made this progress possible and still does. The private sector cannot fill the gap even during boom times. Over exaggerated fantasy.

      • oldtimer
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        My recollection is that private enterprise built first The canals and later the railways thast revolutionised bulk transport in this country. It also built the toll roads.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

          Interestingly Adam Smith said that the state should be responsible for infrastructure and gave the example of a road that several companies used. I guess not all private enterprises were capable of providing the infrastructure needed to transport their products to another part of the country or to a port so it could be shipped abroad.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Dear Mr Bazman, You have clearly been reading too much Obama. Believe it or not there were roads before the state.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          You are both talking many years ago and is now not relevant.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          The only roads that existed before the state did were dirt roads created by a large number of people travelling the same path. Though the Romans did build roads in areas they conquered which were more a collection of tribes than a state.

      • REPay
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        The state has provided free education, but its aim is to equalize not educate. In this it has succeeded. We are not sufficiently well-educated for the future. I heard some dim Labour MP say that it was alright not to work so hard or be as wealthy if you could have a lie-in. I am afraid that attitude why my pension money is in Asia and the US where competition and enterprise are not a dirty words.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

          Neither is death and poverty.

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink


        This is pure B****. You live in a dream world. Do you think schools and infrastructure can only exist if the state provides them? Who build the canals and railways. Just look at the history of education.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          The history of education is that until the state provided education it was only available to the wealthy. This is why literacy levels were so low in Europe between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 19th century.

          • lifelogic
            Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

            People learned what they needed off family/friends and informal arrangements – at the time literacy may not have seemed that important to them building, farming, cooking and the likes might have been rather more useful skills.

          • Winston Smith
            Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

            Not true. The Church and the wealthy provided education and schools for the poor, long before they were nationalised.

          • David Price
            Posted August 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            It isn’t hard to find out about the history of education so why do you try to re-write history to match your prejudice?

            In England the church created grammar schools to train the clergy and song schools to train the “gentlefolk” well before 700 AD. Modern education as in 3R’s probably developed to meet the needs of merchants and trade guilds at schools they, not the state, funded. What use would a farm labourer have of latin or mathematics beyond the simple counting and measurement he could learn on the job?

            As to literacy levels – quite a lot of English lit was produced before the 19th century, including Shakespeare in the 16th century)

        • uanime5
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

          Winston Smith if you’re referring to the Monasteries they were filled with the sons of the wealthy, not the poor. While the church has a long history of education the wealthy it has a much shorter one of educating the poor.

          David Price do you know what schools for the clergy, and merchants and trade guilds schools have in common? They weren’t open to the general population, only those who had the right connections or money. In my post I clearly stated that education was only available to the wealthy, not that there weren’t any schools in the UK.

          Producing literature doesn’t indicate a high literacy level, just that illiteracy wasn’t 100%. Shakespeare performed plays because if he published books the vast majority of people wouldn’t have been able to read them.

        • Bazman
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          I would say the great inventors such as Emily Bronte and Jane Austin would be the real driving force building romantically building railways, social mores, marriage, education and inspiring the space and jet age leading to the internet and advances foods such as blue pop.
          The landowners and employers eagerly providing education and medical care for the workers and children in exchange for good honest labour and toil. Canal boats, solid horses. Home made bread and jam. Jumpers for goal posts.
          I only talk cos. I live it.

      • zorro
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        The state put in some of the schools which helped to bring about UK economic growth but a lot of other agencies started off scools and grammar schools before the state. If you think that comprehensive education has improved our ability to compete in the world or improved our economic performance, a lot of people would beg to differ….


  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Darwin and Lyall revolutionised our Christian religion.
    Freud revolutionised our sexual activities.

    But it is Marx who described all this so very well, not William Blake. I do not think, as a Catholic, that Jesus’ feet in ancient time, walked upon England’s pastures green and I do not, to be honest, think that the Holy Lamb of God was on England’s pleasant pastures seen. Furthermore, I do not consider that the Countenance Divine shone forth …..But you get the point.

    In the 18th century, the mediaeval landlord class still ruled. In the 19th, the middle class, whom Marx so very much admired, took over.

    Now it is the turn of the proletariat. Nowadays we take for granted Marx’s forecast in the Communist Manifesto (1848-9).
    In most advanced countries, he prophesies: the feeling will be anti marriage, anti landowners, in favour of a heavy and graduated income tax. The proletarian government will be able to confiscate the property of undesirables, centralise all credit in the hands of the state by means of a national bank. It will centralise the means of transport (road and rail?) in the hands of the state and extend the state provision for factories and other means of production (including agriculture) in the hands of the state. It will insist on an equal obligation of all to work as the town and country grow more and more similar. Free education for all children will be provided by the state.

    See? We are all Marxists now, just as we love psychobabble and are keen on Professor Dawkins……..

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Professor Dawkins is just stating the rational, scientific position based on the available evidence. Though even the excellent Professor Dawkins seems to have sometimes been partly taken in by some of the excesses of green exaggerations religion. But at least you could have a rational, informed argument with him any issue. You cannot have a rational argument with religion.

    • Lee
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      You’ve noted before that you are a Catholic.

      Do you know that when the Pope was on his tour of Ireland he was asked what he thought of County Down?

      “Not ze same since Carol Voderman left” he said.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Mike “In the 18th century, the mediaeval landlord class still ruled. In the 19th, the middle class, whom Marx so very much admired, took over.

      Now it is the turn of the proletariat. Nowadays we take for granted Marx’s forecast in the Communist Manifesto (1848-9).”

      I think you are wrong in your assessment of the “now” .

      In the 18th century their was clearly a ruling class . No disagreement there .

      In the 19th and 20th century’s I concede that it appears on the face of it that the middle class wielded some power .

      Back in the 21st century there is clearly a national ruling class again and also a supranational ruling class formed of a cabal of bankers and central bankers , whether you consider them benign or not .

      Property prices are so out of step with wages that the landowner class has re-emerged and by implication the serf too .

      For the majority , including most of us on here , things have either gone full circle/the emporers clothes have been recognised for what they are and the reality is serfdom .

      I admire the dignity you display Mike but whilst you , and I , can put up with serfdom ourselves , it’s another matter to accept that things will not be better for the next generation .

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        To let you into a little secret, I hope that house prices keep on going down, in real terms if not in nominal terms. The objective is that my four children, all in their late twenties or early thirties, can afford to buy. So I’m selfish – isn’t everybody?

      • Bazman
        Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        What we are seeing is an elite serviced by the middle classes and the rest as Simon points out serfs.

    • forthurst
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      “We are all Marxists now, just as we love psychobabble”

      The Cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School is a fusion of Marx and Freud. Pure Marxism chalked up hundreds of millions of deaths; it remains to be seen how successful political correctness, which is the Cultural Marxist deliverable, achieves in terms of future misery. Having never studied an ‘Arts’ subject beyond O level, I am very thankful that my opinions are my own.

      • zorro
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        ‘Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtime is death…..’……see how it works?


    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      We just about avoided a national bank, thanks mainly to Barclays, but we need to sell off the state’s shares in RBS and Lloyds to be sure. Luckily, not too much agriculture and manufacturing is in state hands. The food retail market most definitely is not. Road infrastructure is in state hands but road transport mostly isn’t. The state’s intervention in rail has hardly been beneficial. The state provides free education but you can pay to get better. Ditto healthy care.

      Marx’s success has been only partial. I have greater hopes for Richard Dawkins.

  6. Jim
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    As I understand it, to produce any significant increase in wealth for any nation there needs to be a breakout. Governments can try to produce it by printing money, altering tax rates etc. but that is hardly the catalyst to breakout. We need something as dramatic as the industrial revolution to achieve it. Malthus clearly states it.
    We have had a major revolution, a sort of revolution, in the way some of the UK sports have organised themselves. I think this is a good lesson, I think it’s ideas are on the right lines for UK the country.
    Without an organised coordinated plan for growth, where the red tape is thrown away,there will never be a breakout.

  7. Nick
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    It was the government that made the industrial revolution.

    Yep, just another politician claiming credit for something they didn’t do.

    Just as they continue to hide the debts they owe you for all the money they have forced you to invest with them, because they know they can never repay it.

    On top of that they hide what you would have received if you had invested the cash yourself, rather than let them rip you off.

    Reply: I did not say politicians made the Industrial revolution!

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      The Industrial revolution was about engineering and science – it happened as usual despite the government.

      • zorro
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        Like the internet and other advances in technology, all done despite the influence of politicians…….Think about it, without the internet you would not be able to interact with John as easily…..or Bazman, lifelogic, uanime5 et al. Think how poorer your lives would be! Of course, it it didn’t exist, you wouldn’t miss it, but that’s progress for you….


  8. Adam5x5
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    There was also a look at history, contrasting a rural Merry pre industrial Britain with the powerful dark satanic mills and forges of the industrial revolution.

    This sentence sums up the problem with the left wing hippies.
    Pre-industrial revolution the average life expectancy was around 40. There was no running water, gas or electricity. Disease was rife and people suffered a harsh, short life, living off only what they could grow or trade with their neighbours.

    Of course the industrial revolution didn’t provide us with anything useful like modern medicine, automation, mass production, etc, etc

    The industrial revolution was the start of the modern world as we know it and allowed specialisation – which in turn allows progress to proceed much quicker than it otherwise would.

    • Amanda
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      It is the 16th century that is known as the ‘early modern’ period. The Reformation and break with Rome, is where is all started. Firstly, for the first time all men were free, they could ‘commune’ with God by themselves, they did not need the Church to intermediate – arise the St James Bible. (That was partly what Blake’s poem is referring too as well – dark satanic mills also refer to churches.)

      Secondly, Europe would no longer trade with us as we would not return to the Catholic fold. So, we has to build our own skills, and markets. Thus, we set our face to the world, and there began trade and as a result the Empire.

      The Empire brought British ways of common law, trading conventions, civil service etc to the World that have been our great gift. Mr Boyle seemed to totally miss the fact that British history is also the history of the ancestors of the Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders – where did they get a look in, compared to the focus on immigration??

      Thirdly, the ex Chuch land in the 1500’s went to men of innovation, who started experimenting with new agricultural practices, improving the availability of food and the support of towns, espeically London. Thus began a rise in population, and a decline in famine.

      Then in the seventeenth century came the stirrings of democracy with the Civil War, and 1688,

      That was followed by the enlightenment in the eighteenth century when all of these things came together with the scientific innovation, cheap power source in coal, world markets and trade, and the ability of sons of working men to set up a factory and become leading lights in the world of business and eventually socially.

      Finally, the dire state of the subsequent factory system in the early 1800’s, gave rise to social reform and democracy – not, by any means, the result of socialism. Marx was given short shrift by the working man in favour of the vote. It was Russia than went from poor peasants (I don’t think they were very merry) to a Marxist revolution -and look where that got them !!

      The opening ceremony of the Olympics was a travesty of the truth – the truth is far more powerful and inspiring. Whilst, Mr Boyle’s symbols of ‘Modern Britain’ seem to be mostly causes of decline and misery !!

      One question? If we had stayed Catholic and tied to Rome and Europe – would we still have had the IR? Much more a question for our time than it may look !!!!!

      • rose
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        I thought the modern period started in 1485. End of the Wars of the Roses. Beginning of serious monarchy. And 1494 on the Continent – accession of Charles V.

        • rose
          Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          No not Charles V – he wasn’t born till 1500 – but the union of all the Hapsburg dominions under Maximilian. The germ of the EU and all that bossy bureaucracy that the old Roman Empire didn’t go in for.

      • uanime5
        Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        Firstly much of northern Europe (Netherlands, parts of the Holy Roman Empire, Denmark-Norway, and Sweden) was Protestant so they would trade with us. There was also Russia (Orthodox Christian) and the Ottoman Empire (Muslim).

        Secondly the sons of working men were never able to set up factories, which required a large amount of capital. Though they could set up their own businesses they had been able to do this prior to the eighteenth century.

        Finally socialism and Marxism aren’t the same thing. Marx believed that capitalism would be replaced by socialism, which would lead to communism.

        • Winston Smith
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          Scandanavia, prior to industrialisation accounted for very little commerce.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Up until the 1950’s the average life expectancy was around 50, now it’s about 75. So the industrial revolution didn’t increase life expectancy by much, unlike modern medicine and increased food production.

      • zorro
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        It is correct to say that modern medicine has had more effect on life expectancy (and access to treatment) than industrialisation.


        • Bazman
          Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

          The biggest lifesavers are clean drinking water and sewerage systems which came shortly after industrialisation. Engineers have saved more lives than another profession by far. Electricity changed everything, but what technologies have changed everyday life? Not many. The car. The telephone especially the mobile ones and at a push the refrigerator.

          • zorro
            Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            Yes….fridge/freezer, boiler and Internet/computer.


          • zorro
            Posted August 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

            Washing machine is also good time saver.


  9. alan jutson
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    What a shame politicians, most of whom had never set foot in a factory, a building site, a mill, a foundary, or a draughtmans office preached that all of those who did, deserved better.

    What a shame that for decades our politicians insisted our industrialists, engineers, builders, infact anyone who got a bit dirty and worked with their hands were described as blue collar workers, who should look for alternative white collar employment, which completely ignored the fact that most of the skilled tradesmen worked with a sharp and intelligent mind as well.

    What a shame that for decades now it has been suggested by politicians that if you did not go to University you were a failure.

    Well you eventually reap what you sow.

    We now have millions of people who have been to dumbed down Universities who have an over inflated opinion as to their worth, and who recoil in horror if they are asked to work in an environment where they have to get a bit mucky.

    We now have millions of people who do not know how to use basic tools properly, how to mend things, how to diagnose why their car does not work and fix it.

    Instead we have wanted people to shuffle paper around.

    Well that is what we seem to be good at now (there is certaily a lot of it around to shuffle) but unfortunately most who do this seem to have lost any diagnostic/risk assesment skills, or even on occassion bother to understand or read what the paperwork actually says.
    Thus we are one of the most indebted Nations on Earth who’s ability to manufacture things has long since passed, since past learned skills have been long forgotten by those who have retired or also passed.

    Anyone for a coffee (lots of choice about), sounds about right.

    • Adam5x5
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      We now have millions of people who do not know how to use basic tools properly, how to mend things, how to diagnose why their car does not work and fix it.

      Too true. A lot of my friends can’t even put a shelf up on their own.

      When asked why they don’t cut their car ownership costs by doing their own maintenance, I am told by most people that “You can’t tell because it’s all computerised and you need to plug a computer in.”
      This is rubbish, a quick search on amazon will reveal a fault code reader for £20 which will tell you exactly what’s wrong with a car.

      This means actually knowing how a car works and a lot of people don’t have the first clue. They just work when you fill up with magic go juice.

      I worked with a guy once ( he was an office manager, so supposedly one of the smarter people there) who said he was into cars. When I started talking about cam-profiles, crankshaft throw and the pros and cons of CI and SI engines, eyes glazed over and got the response “I don’t know what any of that means.”

      We need to encourage more people into engineering and vocational occupations and discourage crap like media studies which is as much use as a condom machine in the vatican.

  10. Bazman
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Much of Britain would be living in Robert Tressel’s Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists novel had it not been for the state and the unions fighting for workers rights over the decades. The idea that employers have ever been willing to share the wealth is laughable.

    • David Price
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      “The idea that employers have ever been willing to share the wealth is laughable.” is a false generalisation

      1. Merchant Venturers
      2. Many employers provide company performance bonuses, share options and share purchase schemes usually because it makes them more competitive in recruiting and retaining the best people.

      Which century are you living in?

      • Bazman
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Ha! Ha! Ha!

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      They may not “chose” to share their wealth but they do so by employing them or buy things of them – as it is to their advantage so to do.

      Mutual advantage to both.

      • Bazman
        Posted August 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Cheers Guv! cough! Hack!

  11. bob webster
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Back in 1750 Britain enjoyed a unique set of advantages which enabled it to become the first industrial nation. Abundant cheap energy from coal, a rapidly developing transport system, an energetic entrepreneurial spirit and a surplus of labour as the parallel agricultural revolution freed people from the land. The state was small and it’s role extremely limited. in 2012 Britain retains none of these advantages. We still have 3 billion tons of recoverable coal, but EU energy policies mean we can’t use it and must rely of windmills instead. Our transport system is virtually gridlocked. What remains of the entrepreneurial spirit that once made us a great industrial power is being strangled by high taxation and red tape from the EU. Britain does not have the workforce it needs to sustain a second industrial revolution either. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries agricultural workers with little or no education could quickly adapt to hard manual or semi skilled work in the new water and steam powered mills. Any new industrial revolution would be based on advanced technologies and Britain has far too few engineers, scientists and technicians. And then there is the state, controlled by the EU, which now meddles, regulates and taxes ad infinitum. A second industrial revolution? Not a cat in hell’s chance. Not while we remain in the EU anyway.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Firstly the UK doesn’t mine the coal because it’s expensive and difficult. No one is going to do heavy manual labour in cramped conditions, with a constant risk of death from a cave in for minimum wage.

      Secondly the Government could provide bursaries and other financial incentive for people to train to become engineers, scientists, and technicians; instead they raised tuition fees making it more expensive. This is the fault of the UK, not the EU.

      • bob webster
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        Coal mining is a hard and dangerous job, but it is also well paid. The UK still has a small number of miners that earn around 60K a year. Hardly the minimum wage. Back in 1979 my first job was at a colliery in South Yorkshire. It was a great place to work, with real camaraderie. This one small pit, producing about 700, 000 tons per year, employed over 700 workers. As for the economics of coal in the UK- When my pit closed in 1991, British Coal was getting about 40 quid a ton. The price of good quality coal for power generation is now over 200 quid a ton. A revived UK coal industry would create at least
        50, 000 jobs and give us secure, cheap electricity for at least 30 years. It is the EU and it’s insane green energy policies that stand in the way.

        • uanime5
          Posted August 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

          If all coal miners are paid £60K per year it will become very expensive to mine all the coal the UK needs. That’s why I said the miners are likely to be paid minimum wage to keep costs down. Especially since China, India, and Russia can produce cheap coal.

          Regarding coal power stations let’s examine the Drax power station, which is the largest coal power station in the UK and the second largest in the EU. It uses 9 million tonnes of coal per year and produces 24 terawatt-hours of electricity per year (the UK uses 344 TWH per year). If 700 miners produce 700,000 tons per year then you’ll need about 9,000 miners to mine enough coal for just this power plant.

          However as this power plant only produces 7% of the power the UK needs you will need 14 large coal power plants (including Drax) and 129 million tonnes of coal each year to provide the UK with all the power it currently uses. This will require about 126,000 miners and cost £7.6 billion per year.

          Finally to power the UK using nothing but coal power plants for 30 years will require 3.87 billion tonnes of coal. As the UK has 3.2 billion tonnes of coal it will last about 25 years.

      • David Price
        Posted August 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        The UK government already funds the majority of UK universities (I believe all but two but could be wrong). Some universities provide scholarships, hardship funds and or bursaries as does the Research Council (government funded).

        If you want more funding for STEM studies I suggest you lobby for all the Mickey Mouse qualifications to lose their funding and and focus it instead on worthwhile areas, though you need to be aware that would run counter to the equalities gospel.

  12. Richard1
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    We should also recognise the important role which industrial wealth creation played – and still plays – in improving the countryside. Almost all ‘natural’ countryside visible in the UK is the result of human economic activity – clearing scrub, cultivating land, build walls, hedges, buildings etc. An excellent article to this effect and pointing out the nonsense of the Danny Boyle left-wing thesis that industry ruined the countryside was written by Robin Lane-Fox, classics professor and gardening correspondant of the FT.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    We were presented with an extremely partial view of Britain. Where was Newton and his apple? Where were the others involved in the science and engineering behind the industrial revolution? Where was the role of the sea – other than perceived as the means of transport for immigrants? If you want to simulate ships, would not Cook`s Endeavour or Darwin`s Beagle or or the Cutty Sark have offered more relevant examples of the contribution of seafaring to British history than the Windrush?

  14. Almost Ex Tory
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Nick Clegg has thrown his teddy out of the pram.

    Louise Mensch is to leave and there will be a by-election that the Conservatives almost certainly cannot win, the Liberals are seen as pariahs and Labour are still no better than they should be.

    This the opportunity for UKIP to win a seat with a landslide and give David Cameron a wake up call.

    Or perhaps Boris should stand?

    Reply: I can’t see a UKIP surge arriving in time to take this seat. It will be interesting to see the UKIP thesis put to an other very good test.

    • rose
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      And the Boris hype too.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Labour first, Tory and UKIP fairly level and very well behind labour – LibDems nowhere to be seen.

  15. Caterpillar
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    “celebrate social progress” and “understand just how important industrialisation was to advancing living standards”

    I agree with these observations, and moreover believe that this is important for the UK to have a better functioning democracy (subject to the voting system eventually changing to something sensible e.g. two vote MMP). Whether agrarian loving Conservatives, tree-hugging Liberals or collective loving Labours, many politicans appear to back a perceived status quo or nostalgic prior, these being what many voters recognise. Moving to a celebration of (hu)mankind driven changes – social, cultural, techological, scientific – may drive a more widespread comfort with change and thus enable politicians to more completely represent change/innovation/progress.

  16. forthurst
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Was it not also mechanisation of farming at the start of the industrial revolution which provoked many rural dwellers to head for the new industial towns?

    Had there been no industrial revolution, the landowners would have remained rich and the poor would have remained poor for ever. When everything had to be made by hand, both here and abroad, with an unequal distribution of resources, it could not have been any other way.

    The industrial revolution was as inevitable as the arrival of neolithic civilisation as a result of the immigration of those with the adaptive skills to previously hunter gatherer communities, a process resisted and opposed in other parts of the world.

    What is not inevitable is the arrival of the rural poor from the third world to previously advanced Western societies where they constitute a threat to the previously achieved standards of prosperity and harmony of those societies.

    Rather than handwringing over the past, would it not be better to resist the dystopian future plotted by the neo-liberal ‘left’, without borders, without nations, without ethnic loyalties (since ethnicity would be bred out by forced immigration), with wealth and privilege controlling the polities and a compliant administrative class facilitating thoughcrime laws to cower, a controlled media to groom, whilst destoying the prosperity and even the existance of an independent middle and working class who would have become too dumb for independence, anyhow. In other words, going backwards to the future. Vote LibLabCon.

    • oldtimer
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      The early 18thC agricultural revolution (such as Jethro Tull`s seed drill, crop rotation, selective farm animal breeding) was critical to improving crop yields. It was also made possible the enclosure Acts, pushed through by Parliament, enabling the consolidation of parcels of farm land.

      Now we indeed labour in vain under a system calculated to hold us back.

  17. Neil Craig
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    This attitude to the industrial revolution and progress generally is literally Luddism. The “left” was at one time progressive – there is no political philosopher, not even Adam Smith, so supportive of progress as Marx. The current opposition to progress on the “left” is a sign of their intellectual failure. Having failed economically they have retreated into a “we never wanted success anyway” attitude. In an age when the “left” had any vitality they would have refused to have the eco-fascists in the movement as they refused to have the original fascists.

    On the “right” the situation is even more complex. Britain’s governing classes were always dubiuos about progress (eg the Duke of Wellington saying that railways would only allow the common people to move around the country). Added to that is the disdain of the academics for”trade”, industrialisation & progress (eg Tolkein’s book as thematically about how dreadful industrialisation is and how the aristocracy must oppose it

    Our present establishment combines the worst of the “left” with a civil service run by classicist academics topped with a Cameron whose commitment to Luddism is undeniable.

    Hence the silly Olympics opening dance and, much more importantly, the refusal of the governing classes to let us out of recession, though they all know how easy it would be.

  18. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    “Industry did produce many good cheap products, to allow the poor to enjoy some of the goods and services of life that were once the prerogative of the rich.”

    Many economists would argue that the reason that Economies favour cheap mass produced products is because that their is not enough money in the System to produce High Quality Durable Products.

    Our System would rather produce shoddy weak products that fall apart in a few months, rather than go to the expense (and risk) of producing good quality locally produced goods that last longer, provide more locally based employment, use less raw materials (in the long run) and use less fosil fuels in transportation costs.

    With Higher Mortgage Costs (I’m talking about the cost of a House not the interest rate), there is less disposable income. Cars used to be built to last twenty years or more (most didn’t but that was the intention of the higher quality models). Now, Cars are only produced to last ten years. We can’t be bothered to make the second most expensive item (after a House) we buy to last more than a decade. How long before pre-Fab Houses are producded which are only intended to last 30 years or less.

    The thing that you forget John, is that Industrialisation is for the big Multi-National Corporations who benefit from Global Trade and Global Opportunitys to avoid tax. You do not seem particularly interested in Small Businesses (apart from your own). But your Small Business (an investment firm) doesn’t produce anything tangible except profits.

    Start fighting for the Small Businesses – you know; the people who actually vote for you. The same small businesses who were sold Investment Hedges which turned bad.

  19. John Orchard
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    The problem in this Country is we are in dire straights and then you see the likes of Clegg with his juvenile attitude, no wonder people are turned off politics. This is the Man who wanted AV and was hammered by the people who voted, but Cameron gave him his own way for a vote costing millions. We would be a lot better off without Clegg and Cameron and altough Boris comes accross as a buffoon at times he has charisma and intelligence far above these two and it is a gtreat shame he is not PM.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I would not want to defend the DPM but he did not want the “miserable little compromise”, and perhaps that a referendum on such a “miserable little compromise” was what was offered should have indicated the immaturity of the Coalition from day one.

      Do I ever expect ConLabLib to jointly take seriously the questions arising from fairer representation, uni- or bicameralism, equity between NI,W,E,S, etc? No.

  20. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Of course if the land had not been stolen from the people in the first place – if they had not been forced to live as serfs paying tithes to their masters – they wouldn’t have had to leave for the cities in the first place.

    Nothing changes. Despite civil war, revolution and hundreds of years of alleged democracy, still most of the land is in the hands of the few. The Royal family, the aristocracy and the church still own millions of acres. Now people charge up and down the motorways barely seeing their children, into the study after a meal to answer emails and prepare for the next day … children are dropped into nurseries for a 12 hour shift from 6am so both parents can work to put an overpriced roof over their heads with a postage stamp sized garden … nothing changes.

    Industrialisation just swapped one form of serfdom for another.

    • Trevor Butler
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Except now the the Lord of the manor that we pay our tithe to is the local council.

  21. Atlas
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Industrial revolution? why it came about by cheap energy (ie coal). The coal bonanza came about by advent of pumping engines which allowed deep mining.

    “Give me cheap energy and I can do anything” is the motto. Those of a green persuasion are horrified at the thought.

    P.S. Boris for PM!

  22. Antisthenes
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    For me the inclusion of the NHS in the opening ceremony was embarrassing. Having been a recipient of the services of the NHS and of other countries far better healthcare systems I believe the NHS is not something to be very proud of.

  23. Robert Taggart
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    All well and good, but, what comes after the industrial age ?
    This scrounger me fears be part of that conundrum !

  24. Barbara Stevens
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    We all know how this country evolved, through the sweat tears of the massess, and grateful for a roof over their heads and something on their plate at the end of long days. Thank goodness things have changed, but it took, again blood sweat and tears to gain it. I’m no lover of the Labour party, but we should know it was the development of this party that helped the working class to better things. I’ve read on this blog that the NHS should be dismantled, and what would we have in its place? Medical care only if you can afford it. Any 21st century country cannot allow that to happen, and those who propose it must be well off and have no care for his fellow man who cannot afford private care.
    We all have to live in this country, rich and poor, we all have to pay taxes, and those that don’t have to realise they have to work, like the rest. As for those who are rich and don’t pay their taxes, they should be made to. This country as been built by us all, and the rewards should be shared by all, and no policial doctrine will stop that. We are not a poor nation, if we can afford foreign aid.

  25. Jon
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    The unfortunate reality is that all the strife and hard work of previous generations in building wealth has been destroyed mostly by the left such as Mr Brown for example. In their fervour for debt and living beyond means, passing liabilities to future generations for high living now the modern left have urinated on the graft of the working classes of the passed.

    For a long time now the political left have cut ties with the working classes and depend on a missed placed loyalty.

    Lets hope Danny Boyle in the closing ceremony can find more of the many brilliant things this country has given the world than just the one person he could think off just because he likes Twitter.

  26. zorro
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    ‘The Conservative side was more often than not defensive of the agrarian society’…… Indeed as the Tories were mainly established landowners, it was the ‘Manchester Liberals’ and the mercantile class which drove industrial progress….Can you imagine the current Lib Dems copying that model?……..’strong strand of Conservative social action wanting improvements in the regulation of working conditions and urging the abolition of child labour and other abuses’…..Indeed, a lot of the factory acts and other improvements in working conditions were brought about under Tory governments.

    ‘The truth is, however, that many people volunteered to leave the land and travel to the cities to find work.’….John, often they had littlke choice. Have a look at and such other websites and research your family histories. A lot of people can see how their ancestors moved from rural locations to over crowded, under paid employment…..I’m not sure how much progress was evidenced there. I seem to recall that life expectancy dropped on average during the industrial revolution (if advances in modern medicine were not factored in) from what they were in 17th/18th century England. It certainly seems the case when I looked at my family tree.


  27. WeTheCommunists
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    My comments….
    You mentioned that “At the same time the Labour tradition has praised the emergence of unions and collective action, made possible by large scale factory organization”. – This was not achieved on day one. The workers had to go through tough conditions and life threatening attacks, and even martyrdom [read Tolpuddle] to build their unions. It is one thing that Labour praises the unions and collective actions; but it is outrageous that the same Labour is not doing anything for the welfare of the same unions and its members.

    “It was not all dark satanic mills and exploiting mill owners getting rich whilst suppressing everyone else” – I disagree. It was always the case of exploiting mill owners getting rich whilst suppressing everyone else. Your comments above testifies the same – To quote you, “….wages were poor, the hours too long and the housing conditions unacceptable”. Very true indeed! The workers were given bare enough wage to keep them alive and survive – so that they could be exploited to increase the profits of above said mill owner.

    • David Price
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      Didn’t the owners of Derwent Mills, for example, provide a regular wage, housing, food and fuel to attract workers? It doesn’t appear then that working in a mill was mandatory but quite optional, no one forced people to work in factories, rather they chose to because they wanted to improve their personal situation.

      So it seems not all mill owners actually exploited their employees nor did all workers suffer the extreme situation you describe. I have no doubt such exploitation occured but your blanket assertion of universal explotation is without foundation, I wonder how extensive such explotation really was considering people appear to have had a choice.

  28. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how much manufacturing we need to retain to have a prosperous future. Quite a lot, I suspect. What is the bedrock on which the world’s economy is based? Agriculture, mining, manufacturing, transport and distribution?

    • terry sullivan
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      what happened to norcross, gone gone gone ask john

    • David Price
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      I suspect it is more about critical mass or a critical range of skills and capabilities rather than simply the number of a particular kin of industry. You’d need strategic as well as mundane capabilities and do you want to be able to employ the full spectrum of workers or just the high tech skillsets?

      Finally, if you have a non-socialist society who decides and who dictates what industries and capabilities are established, retained and where. It’s easy to see that the EU is more than happy to do that sort of thing but who would you trust to do it in the UK?

  29. A different Simon
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Talking about the industrial revolution when is your Govt going to stand up for the silent majority rather than bend over to avoid a punch up with the green mafia ?

    Is there any danger of Cameron and Clegg showing any balls and backing onshore shale extraction or do they just want to subject us serfs to fuel poverty and our children to hopelessness .

    At least Osborne seems to get it .

    Reply: They have said they want more gas in the mix and energy ministers have told me they are not standing in the way of shale exploitation.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the reply John .

      Sounds encouraging .

      These tight gas and tight oil plays are fascinating . There are several different types of hydrocarbon transfer mechanisms to consider , not just matrix flow so it’s only by drilling sufficient wells and experimentation that the estimates of recoverable quantities can be firmed up .

  30. Bazman
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I am from a northern seaside town called Mugsbrough-In-Furnace and true the shipyard did provide houses for the shipyard workers and managers in the early days to ensure a supply of labour. The proviso being a nod from a superior and other strict criteria. Smells like communism? My mate Dave argues about safety and has nowhere to live. Government subsidies however meant that amenities where quickly built and a bridge constructed to the mainland, so even then the government subsidised society. The town mirrors the shipyards fortunes and so when there is little work. Government work as this is a navel shipyard where private building is not a big part or though should be due the the military nature of the work. No work, no job then what? Oh! Just leave? Fifty five and three children, mortgage. Like you could? The wages would actually cover the medical bills not to mention any other tolls on life? The tax system actually make it possible to live not the other way for most here especially when out of work.
    This idea that an entire society could be privately built including those without the means to fund their place is not real or ever was. The railways where put in place by companies as they had to find ways of moving their goods like iron ore to the steel mill here. They where even taxed and little found it’s way back into the railways they paid for. Time has moved on and now the game and society has changed. The days of having nothing and being happy with are gone for good. It’s called entitlement and I’ sure as supporters of the middle class social security system you will appreciate this greatly.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Yep .

      When I was much younger motor insurance companies were competing for my business . The market actually worked for that back then .

      Now it seems that the competition has been replaced with collusion and that the result is a cartel .

      For healthcare national insurance beats the private insurance model hands down .

      The money which is redistributed through taxes and benefits ultimately ends up with the people at the top of the pile anyway .

      • Bazman
        Posted August 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        The market at least for motorcycle insurance was a mess the insurance in the late 80’s early 90’s. Companies based their profits on taking in more than they paid out. Good? No. They where often selling the frame of the bike for up to ten times the value of a new one when the bike was wrote off and sold for spares. Why would the frame be worth this? The answer being that the numbers of the bike and thus it’s reg number are linked to this item and one engine casing. Steal another bike and put the parts onto the legally bought frame and casing. The stolen bike is now legal. This is just one example of why the party came to and end at least for motorbike insurance and why the costs soared. They just did not care until their profits dropped. Little to do with competition.

  31. Tim Almond
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I recently read a book by Alfred Williams called Villages of the White Horse (near Swindon). One of the things that it documents is that people in those villages found it hard to keep good skilled workers because they all wanted to work on the railways.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Still the same today and I am working on it. Miles of worn out track from Birmingham to London. Nice to get a job on it. Good wages if a little hard and dangerous work. A friend of a relative got hit by a train whilst working on the track. Never saw it coming. ‘Only’ a broken arm. Must have been all that pointless and absurd H&S and his fault? The engine driver should have been shot.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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