Growth and government

 

        I read in yesterday’s papers that the Uk government will soon receive advice from Lord Heseltine on how to promote growth. Advice from anyone with ideas on how to do that is welcome. Lord Heseltine himself was a successful businessman in the magazine industry for many years and knows how to grow a small business well.

        Let’s hope  his advice will concentrate on the tax, banking  and regulatory obstacles to growing small and medium sized enterprises.  What we do not need is an agenda to recreate the regional government the Coalition has rightly just demolished, nor to turn the Local Enterprise Partnerships into the RDAs which  have also bit the dust. Some of the articles imply the report he proposes wishes to put the clock back and spend yet more money on needless layers of regional government.

         Regions which depended on regional development strategies and RDA schemes remained poorer and less successful than regions which did not. Indeed, during the high period of Labour’s support through conventional regional subsidies, the out performance of London and the South-east grew rather than diminished.

          The last thing this Uk economy needs is yet more bureaucracy and government administrative costs. The RDAs often ossified the private sector land and buildings markets, leaving investors with less choice and flexibility than the open market approach in the most successful areas through private sector competing agents and landlords.

             Lord Heseltine also favours unitary local government to replace Counties and Districts. I have no problem with that,as Berkshire opted to carry out that change 20 years ago.  I do think, however, it has to be done at the request of the local area to ensure smooth passage . Unhappy Councils and Councillors can make such a transition expensive and problematic.

             He also favours elected Mayors. These have been offered in various parts of the country, but have not proved popular with electors.  Reforming local government may be worth doing for its own sake, but will not of itself transform the UK’s growth prospects. That requires lower taxes, more sensible regulations, and easier access to bank credit and risk capital.  More demand also helps.

 

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87 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    In Cambridgeshire we have a town mayor, a local government, a county government, a national government and the EU regional government (still there as a ghost).
    Not to mention the baleful smell coming from Berlaymont.
    We have quite a lot of burned out buildings in the town where I live. We have a lot of people on welfare too. The local government seems totally unable to do anything about it all.

    So we have written a little song which I would like you to hear.
    http://wisbechcommunityforum.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Boudicca
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Nice one Mike.

      Just think how lucky you all are ….. you have all that ‘government’ trying to help you. Must make you sleep well at night.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted October 30, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        You know what Ronald Reagan used to say:

        “The most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’.”

        • Bazman
          Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          No danger of any government official even finding the place. Take away all the signs of modernity and it’s back to days of yore.

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      “The local government seems totally unable to do anything about it all” the cost of all this “government” is clearly much of the cause of the problem not the solution.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        You obviously have never been to Wisbech.

  2. Nina Andreeva
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Please no more of what the RDAs used also to do e which was to promote that Britain was a great place to do business in, because of its comparatively low wages, “flexible labour market” and a mug tax payer who is more than happy dole out sweeteners. As soon as the former looked less attractive, for example Samsung were straight out of Hartlepool and took their microwave cooker factory to the Czech Rep and when the latter dried up Siemens simply closed down their microprocessor factory in North Shields.

    If the UK is to get ahead it will be on the proposition that it has a highly skilled workforce, just like Germany making things that are so sophisticated that they are hard to obtain elsewhere. It will not be on the basis, as it has in the past, that we are just desperate for low skill/low wage jobs that could be done anywhere.

    Also if are borders are still wide open at the moment, we should be selective in who we take. No more people whose only ambition is to become a security guard or a taxi driver. Take the Chinese instead with their culture of shame (no welfare dependency) hard work, education and no “community leaders” demanding this that and the other. You are not going to get anywhere by taking in (and pick any “Daily Mail” headline about who you want to compare them against) in preference to the Gurkhas, who were mysteriously kept out, despite their proven loyalty to the Crown, ability to speak English and having skills that they had picked up in the army that could be put to use immediately in the civilian economy

    • JimF
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this connects with the weekend blog about the motor industry. Is our ambition to spanner more and more cars together for a Jap, German, Indian Company, or actually design, own the name, develop, improve, etc… and not necessarily just cars, but nuclear power stations, trains, medical equipment…

      To be honest, without being disparaging, there must be tens of thousands of folk with slightly more relevant, up-to-date ideas about how to de-regulate and move business forward than Mr Heseltine. His efforts in moving Defence R and D into the private sector were pretty good, i think, but 30 years on we need some fresh thinking, don’t we? Or is he really the youngest, most dynamic business-aware person in the political stratosphere?

    • John Doran
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Eminent good sense.
      Thank you Nina.

    • Excalibur
      Posted October 30, 2012 at 2:01 am | Permalink

      Nice one, Nina. The deliberate discrediting of the Chinese in particular, mainly for political reasons, is a disgrace. Hong Kong and Singapore could not have become the great entities they are without the industry and ingenuity of the Chinese, who were sold out by us in Malaya, and in Hong Kong. Hong Kong citizens should have been given UK citizenship on handover. Most of them would be a better asset than Patten !! What remains surprising is the reverence and respect that most Chinese people in these territories still have for the British. For the most part we don’t deserve it.

  3. Ian Wragg
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Lord Hesletine. See wasn’t he the one who admires all things European? Wasn’t he the one who joined with Clarke & Blair to tell us what a wonderful thing the new Euro currency was.
    Wasn’t he one of the morons who undermined Mrs. T.
    Why oh why do all Tories hang off every word of this failed politician?

    • Peter Richmond
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Our problem seems to be that those in power who are ‘hanging off’ the words of Lord H are not really Tories.

    • Manof Kent
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      The Tory answer to Neil Kinnock.

      • JimF
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        Oh come on!
        Heseltine believes in the EU but hasn’t milked it like the Kinnock dynasty….

    • APL
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Ian Wragg: “Wasn’t he one who admires …..”

      Yes. So he won’t address the source of the over regulation, the EU.

      But isn’t odd, this aledgedly EUrosceptic PM keeps appointing rabid EUrophiles, Patton at the BBC and now Hestletine, as someone below points out, the Blairite wolf in Tory sheeps disguise.

      • APL
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        APL: “as someone below points out, the Blairite wolf in Tory sheeps disguise.”

        wearing a Tory fleece.

        Ian Wragg: “joined with Clarke & Blair to ”

        Are there any Tories in the Tory party?

    • Single Acts
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I can foresee of no circumstances under which Lord Heseltine’s advice would not be useful.

      • APL
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Single Acts: “I can foresee of no circumstances under which Lord Heseltine’s advice would not be useful.”

        As a yardstick of what not to do, I suppose his advice might have some merit.

        The champion of Westland? Trying to build an European conglomerate to compete with the US. Just like all the other ‘copy cat’ technologies the EU wastes taxpayer money on, Galileo another case where the EU tries to reinvent at enormous expence, the wheel, when perfectly good tried and tested plans for a wheel already exist.

        • Jerry
          Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          @APL: He saved the Tories Bacon in 1990-1992, had Thatcher not gone, had the Poll tax been kept Labour and renationalisation would have returned to popular applause, as it very nearly did – in other words the Tories would have been out of power for a generation. Thatcher-right Tories might well castigate both Mr Major and Mr Heseltine but they made the Conservatives electable again after the shambles that was the Poll tax.

          • APL
            Posted October 30, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

            Jerry: “He saved the Tories Bacon in 1990-1992, had Thatcher not gone, ”

            Matter of opinion.

            Jerry: “Tories would have been out of power for a generation.”

            So at the absolute best, Hestletine put off the ‘out of power for a generation’ bit for a couple of years. Then the Tories were out of power for a generation, anyway.

            I just don’t think that internal division and tratorious backstabbing promotes an election victory. Hestletine and Clarke consorted with Anthony Blair against the existing Tory party line, once you cross the rubicon, backstabbing and treachery clearly becomes a matter of routine.

            These two ‘big beasts’ should have been expelled from the Tory party, they could then have gone back to the party they are better suited to, the Liberal party – except they have no chance of office there because the Liberal party is an irrelevance.

          • Jerry
            Posted October 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

            @APL: Well yes most things are a matter of opinion, except some are backed up by history rather than a conspiracy theory or wishful thinking. John Major was electorally more popular (to the public) than Mrs T had been, even so it was only in the last few days of the 1992 election that Labour lost the election. The right wing media, especially titles owed by a certain proprietor, were desperately trying to find a way to attack apart from a scare story about taxation (which didn’t affect the majority of voters), they found it after Labours misplaced ‘Sheffield Party’…

            As for only putting off the ‘out of power for a generation’ bit for a couple of years, it was a few more that two (Major’s government lasted a full five years), but you missed the point I was making – had Labour regained power in 1992 they were still committed to their “Clause 4” and thus renationalisation would likely have occurred.

            As for your rather silly comment about conspiracies and Mr Blair, he was hardly on the political radar in 1990 when any plotting against Mrs T would have taken place, even if the ‘wets’ needed Labours support to oust Thatcher there were others in the Labour party who were better positioned.

          • APL
            Posted October 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “John Major was electorally more popular (to the public) than Mrs T had been ..”

            Remind me Jerry, how many elections did John Major win? Yes, that’s right, and how many did Thatcher win?

            Jerry: “silly comment about conspiracies and Mr Blair, he was hardly on the political radar in 1990”

            Correct, Blair was nowhere in 1990. My post was intended to refer to the fact that once Clarke and Hestletine (and others) had deposed Thatcher, backstabbing became a sort of habit for them, once Blair had become Prime minister, it didn’t take long for these so called big beasts of the Tory party to start openly consorting with Blair.

          • Jerry
            Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

            @APL: As for general elections, it wasn’t so much that the Tories won but Labour lost, bar the 1979 election [1] the Tory election manifestos of the 1980s could have been filled with Victorian nursery rhymes and they would still have won!

            As for back-stabbing, I seem to recall a certain Mrs M. H. Thatcher doing a bit of ‘back-stabbing’ in the mid 1970s, in her bid to oust Heath. The fact is, Mrs Thatcher was an electoral liability to the Tories by 1991, the party realised that, stalking horses don’t just appear out of nowhere or overnight. Whilst many paint a picture of division caused by Europe it is far more likely that the real problem was the unpopular Poll Tax.

            [1] had Callaghan gone to the country in 1978 it is even possible that Thatcher would not have won, so even the 1979 election could be described as being lost by the Labour party due to the “winter of discontent” rather than the Tories actively winning.

            So please APL, by all means support your hero but do it from historical and statistical facts and not old party rhetoric.

          • APL
            Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “as for general elections …”

            Noted Jerry avoided answering the question? Just to jog your memory, how many elections did John Major win and how many did Thatcher win?

            You know, actual elections.

            Jerry: ” I seem to recall a certain Mrs M. H. Thatcher doing a bit of ‘back-stabbing’ in the mid 1970s, in her bid to oust Heath.”

            Noted again, you seem to be quite selective in your ‘facts’, Jerry.

            When Thatcher was ‘backstabbing’ Heath, had Heath just won an election? Was he the serving prime minister at the time?

            Or was it simply the succession of one hasbeen burnt out electoral liability and former pm with someone with a bit more ‘go’.

            Perhaps if Heath has spent less time on ‘Morning Cloud’ and a little more attending to the job he was supposed to be doing, he might have been a better PM.

            Since you seem to be championing Heath, how many general elections did Edward Heath win in 1974, as he was such a superlative leader?

            Thatcher went on to ‘backstab’ a former Prime minister and leader who had led the Tory party to two electoral defeats in one year, even by modern standards that’s an achievement, yet he still intended to cling on to the leadership.

            Perhaps Jerry, you’d have given your hero a third chance to loose.

            I’d say Thatcher did the Tory party a favour.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

            APL, if you want to rant then fine, although you’ll have to count me out, but if you actually want to actually discuss then please read what others actually said – Oh I carry no flame for any past or present party leader, unlike yourself from the looks of things…

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted November 2, 2012 at 1:33 am | Permalink

            The Council Tax (a property tax based on capital value) was first proposed by Enoch Powell in 1964. So why are you giving Michael Hestletine the credit? He knew where to look in the archives, I’ll grant you that.

          • Jerry
            Posted November 2, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

            @Lindsay McDougall: Nothing is new in politics, Thatcher didn’t think up her policies either.

    • zorro
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      The ‘Minister for Merseyside’ making a comeback I see. Fortunately, he has no access to the mace so no potential for physical damage in Westminister. However, he is a proven statist with approved views on how not to deliver growth. It is true that he established a successful magazine empire, but I do not recall him getting any state/regional body help to establish it. He certainly ad a lot less regulation to deal with……

      zorro

    • lifelogic
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Indeed had he not brought down Thatcher (to be replaced by that **** Major/ disaster) then Labour would have won and got all the blame for Majors ERM fiasco and we would have perhaps had sensible government after one term of Labour.

      He is doing well and looking good for a nearly 80 year old though I suppose. Let us hope he has finally learned something over the last 15 years. One can see who “Eurosceptic” Cameron likes though, Patten, Heseltine types – it does not bode well.

  4. Pete the Bike
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Government interference only ever benefits big business, the ones that give the most political “contributions” and the best directorships to MPs.
    If help for small and medium business is the aim then it’s very simple. Reduce business rates, eliminate the mass of regulations hindering employment and reduce and simplify taxation. Then when you’ve done that reduce taxes again. Then stay out of the way.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Correct, it is very simple. Unfortunately every Government these days seems to be socialist in reality, promoting bureaucracy and the client state.

      • lifelogic
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        They are in the red tape industry and very keen for it to grow and grow and grow until all are choked by it.

        • John Doran
          Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

          They are in the red tape industry.
          They are also in the red ink business.
          They are strangling us with red tape.
          We are drowning in red ink.

          We are the electorate, the taxpayers.
          They are the govt, the ripoffs.

          Who’s paying?
          Who’s profiting?

          We’re all in this together?
          We don’t think so.

  5. Boudicca
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Heseltine is a very good reason not to vote Conservative. He is a rapid EUphile; campaigned to drag the UK into the Euro because our economy couldn’t survive without it and even recently announced that the UK would have to join the Euro in the not too distant future.

    He’s a dinosaur. Why isn’t he extinct.

    • zorro
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, rapid and rabid!

      zorro

  6. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    “Lord Heseltine also favours unitary local government to replace Counties and Districts. I have no problem with that, as Berkshire opted to carry out that change 20 years ago. I do think, however, it has to be done at the request of the local area to ensure smooth passage . Unhappy Councils and Councillors can make such a transition expensive and problematic.”

    What about unhappy residents?

    I well remember the consultation on that, which took as its starting point that the County Council would be abolished and merely asked about how the county should be split into unitary authorities.

    As the form didn’t offer a “no change” option I wrote that in, no doubt ensuring that my response went straight into the bin.

    The eurofanatic Heseltine was behind those efforts to abolish county councils, which in most cases would be the wrong size to fit easily into the system of local government for the new country called “Europe” that he wanted and still wants.

    Unfortunately Berkshire County Council wrongly took it as being a compulsory change and committed suicide, afterwards unsuccessfully going to court to try to get the right to reverse that decision.

    • Acorn
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Don’t worry Denis, the Heseltine Report has already been “Pickled” and placed in the DCLG circular file.

      • John Doran
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Pickled?
        DCLG?

        • Acorn
          Posted October 30, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

          Eric Jack Pickles: Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in the coalition. Says any reform of the structure of local government would cost much too much in these austere times.

  7. martyn
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I was interested in your last line. How much demand do you think is required? I know it is difficult to evaluate but some argue that there is no demand issue – it is all about supply. I would be interested in what you think of that.

    • zorro
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      There is certainly low demand amongst consumers as they are still busily repaying debts and tempering spending by targeting quality goods in sales…..quite wise too bearing in mind the likely anaemic growth over the next decade.

      zorro

      • APL
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Zorro: “There is certainly low demand amongst consumers as they are still busily repaying debts … ”

        Bingo!

        Credit simply pulls demand into the ‘now’ from the future. Demand has fallen off a cliff because we are now living in a time where we have already spent everything having had a good time last decade.

        The governments solution? Extend more credit.

      • martyn
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Its interesting because others on the Tory right have said that the economic situation is not about demand. Its very useful to see how varied economic opinions are on the tory right.

        • APL
          Posted October 30, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          martyn: “Tory right have said that the economic situation is not about demand. ”

          ‘Goosed’ demand over the previous decade was a result of Labours housing boom, that led to gross mis-allocation of resources in the economy. It was all done on the idea that property prices could continue to inflate to infinity, (all the while politicians wringing their hands, crying crocodile tears for those who could not get onto the property ladder – a direct consequence of their policies).

          Eventually it turns out that the property market cannot be inflated for ever, quelle suprise!

  8. Alan Wheatley
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I expect I would prefer the JR approach to the MH one any day. Michael Heseltine is clearly a man of talent, but I recall him in government mainly because of the bad decisions he made.

    But as to the replacement of County and District councils by unitary authorities, I DO have a problem. This is change for changes sake. Change is costly and disruptive, so there needs to be a clear and significant benefit. Further, the clear and significant benefit has to be possibly only under the changed structure.

    Also there is a social aspect. The county structure has long been a part of British life. It is part of one’s identity. During the twenty years I lived in Berkshire there was never a call by the people living in Berkshire for the county to be cut in two: it was imposed upon them. Are they now any happier? Are they better off?

    The reorganisation of local authority boundaries has always caused trouble. Yorkshiremen told they are now living in Lancashire did not like what they were told, and is opposed to this day. Humberside was a bureaucratic invention that failed. Once upon a time there was Rutland, then there wasn’t, and now there is again. Only the officials who organise the mess benefit by creating work for themselves.

    However, the concept of the unitary authority could be a good change for local government. I never properly understood what was done at the County level and what was done at the District level, so to put everything under the one organisation makes some sense. It would be much simpler to make counties unitary authorities, and to make the former districts local branches. The reorganisation would be much less and the local link would be better maintained. There would be no need for a new, bigger central administrative building as some of the county-wide services could be run from former district buildings. Distributed local government is easy now we have high speed networks in place to link the sites.

    If the people of East and West Berkshire were offered the option of reverting back to being Berkshire, what would they say?

    Reply: The people of Berkshire who responded to the consultation and the Councillors involved did want unitaries by a large margin.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      JR, we were never asked whether we wanted unitaries; it had already been decided that we would have unitaries whether we wanted them or not; we were only asked how we would prefer Berkshire to be split up into unitaries.

      Reply: No, you were asked if you wanted them. I held meetings to seek opinion, and opinion was strongly pro unitaries. LOts of other parts of the country turned them down.

      • Jerry
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        I think what Denis means, John, is that no one asked HIM – personally…

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 30, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          Nope, I mean that the questionnaire delivered to all households in Berkshire, not just mine, did NOT include a “no change” option.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        You may have held meetings in Wokingham, and there may even have been meetings in Maidenhead, but the questionnaire delivered to all households in Berkshire definitely did not include a “no change” option. If it had, I would have simply chosen that instead of having to write it in as my own preference.

    • APL
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Alan Wheatley: “But as to the replacement of County and District councils by unitary authorities, I DO have a problem. ”

      That’s the Tory idea of ‘Localism’ for you.

  9. a-tracy
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    What the Country needs is better infrastructure and what we’re getting is more charges to use the inadequate infrastructure that we already have, the cost of which is already more than covered by fuel duty, fuel vat, and ved.

    • Jerry
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Indeed and now the absurd suggestion that to use the Motorway network will incur an extra cost for the motorists (never mind the fact that the motorist have already paid many times over for these roads and already fund their upkeep), people will simply not pay and thus the UK will be thrown back into a pre motorway age but with millions of more cars and lorries on the road – grid-lock will be the result.

      Also how will this be enforced, some form of electronic windscreen card tracking or ANPR cameras? Big brother is alive and well again – at least if you wish/need to use the motorways, and what then, this sounds like a prototype for road pricing and thus even more vehicle tracking.

      • Nina Andreeva
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        Yes but it is not as aburd as Lord Bitchard’s proposal that pensioners should be forced to work for their meagre handouts, especially after they have paid for them in advance with their NI contributions

        • a-tracy
          Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

          I hadn’t hear about this proposal so I checked out the BBC News site they report “Lord Bichard has asked us to clarify that he was floating an idea at the committee rather than making a firm proposal”. Once again bad news management by the Government.

          The truth is that it will be the public sector and nationalised industries pension payments that will cripple us in the future, with these workers still enjoying early retirements, everyone in the Commons just sticking their heads in the sand over this are going to cause tremendous generational problem in the next two decades, but never mind they’ll nearly ALL be retired by then.

        • zorro
          Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          I was quite disgusted by Lord Bichard’s suggestion made through his horn rimmed glasses. How can it engender respect for the pension provision if you say that in addition to paying for it all your life, you then have to work extra hours to receive it. We’ve already had advances in age before it is received and doubtless there will be effective higher taxation for people who have alternative provision to nullify the state pension benefit. It is particularly distasteful ans statist that he says that they are a drain on society….

          If that is the case, perhaps Lord Bichard’s could set an example an save the state paying him a monstrous civil service pension. He might get some respect then…..

          zorro

        • Jerry
          Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          @Nina: Why ever not, after all many think that others on handouts (that they have also paid in for via tax and NI) should either have to do with out or work for their benefits. What do you not understand, the country is bust, there is no money left, we can’t afford to pay people to sit on their backsides watching daytime TV just because they have reached a certain age. Nor should fitness be taken into consideration for these pensioners, if they can’t bend down then there is nothing to stop them weeding window boxes and the like!

          Of course I jest but isn’t it typical of ‘bullies’, in this case those who dislike the welfare/benefit culture, to start whining once it is suggested that they face the same music as they have dished out to others…

  10. Lord Blagger
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    So lets see.

    1% growth and its hip hip horray.

    Hmmm, 2,500 bn of debts hidden off the books – the state pension.

    The same as all other pensions.

    Look at the post office pension. Nationalised. What does that mean? Get the assets. Sell them off. That funds the deficit for a bit [Not mentioned]. The liabilities? What liabilities? Its a pension. We can’t put that on the books, or we would have to put the civil service pensions on the books.

    That causes politicians a problem. After all they have been lying about those debts for ages.

    ===========

    What you could do is abolish Vince Cable’s business department.

    20 bn – a year.

    Lets see. Cut VAT? Cut corporation tax. Cut income tax. Even pay child benefit to people who pay taxes. You could even pay off a little debt. 25 years of no business department pays for 2 years of your overspending.

    • John Doran
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Is it true Mr Redwood that state pensions are unfunded?
      Regards,
      JD.

      • Tedgo
        Posted October 30, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Yes, as are SERPS, civil service pensions, teachers, NHS and others. Some local government schemes are funded. All these pension schemes should be converted over to defined contribution schemes, like the rest of us have.

        It surprises me how much the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan owns in this country including The Lottery and major stakes in airports.

  11. Electro-Kevin
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Growth and government.

    You mean we can grow one ? Like – on an allotment ???

    Well that would be an improvement on the current system.

    What we have at the moment is more like a pick-your-own-strawberry farm. You can have what you like so long as it’s red !

  12. English Pensioner
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Apart from Brussels and Westminster, we have a County Council, a District Council and a Parish Council. Far too many, particularly as the same people sit on more than on of the councils. Isn’t there also a SE Regional unelected council of sorts, or has that been abolished?
    I think the County Council with a stronger Parish Council would more than suffice, As it is, the system seems to provide sufficient income and expenses for some of the councillors to treat it as a full tie job, giving the posts grand titles, presumably to justify even more money!
    As for elected mayors, they will be as much use as elected police commissioners, just another barrier to be surmounted before something can be done.

    • a-tracy
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      There is a downside to mergin Borough and County Councils and creating new authorities. The costs, redundancies and rehires on brand new contracts was badly organised costing a fortune. The new council isn’t half as local as the old Borough council was and decisions are taken too far away from the people their decisions affect. All meetings are organised miles away from the local planning changes at strange times of the day when most people affected are working on purpose.

      Costs go up. Some areas in the County are really left out now and funds are diverted to the main Council office/Executive councillor’s areas. Instead of creating one large authority we got the worst of all worlds – two authorities with bases at the extremes of each territory. I’ve not been impressed at all and feel we lost a valuable local council with better decision making and spending powers than what we have now.

  13. David Jarman
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    In most cases government can promote business by getting out of the way. I dont believe Heseltine will bring anything worthwhile to the table. I didn’t like him back in the day and see even less reason to now. Trouble is they think the world will just stop turning wihtout them. Proof of how deluded they are.

  14. Neil Craig
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Why they chose to ask Heseltine in particular to report on what is needed for growth is difficult to explain if we assume economic growth was the primary requirement. If support for the EU, “moderation” and a certain distance from most Tory opinion were the primary requirements & growth secondary at best, it would be explicable.

    It is a matter of record that while Mr Cameron has repeatedly promised a “relentless” attempt to find what produces growth he has absolutely refused to even look at solutions that reduce state power.

    The non-EU world economy ios growing at an average of 6% so there can be no serious dispute that a UK government that was honestly trying could reach at least as high as average.

  15. Bernard Juby
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    “More demand also helps”

    Yes – but only if people (especially pensioners) are given more, undiluted money to spend on goods and services.

  16. David Saunders
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Why on earth does Cameron reincarnate the living history that is Heseltine, the Europhile who, as President of the Board of Trade (there’s glory for you) promised ‘to intervene before breakfast, before lunch and before dinner’ to involve government meddling in business. The RDAs were the biggest waste of public money even for the Labour government and for Heseltine to think of going down that path again is the triumph of his big state hope over costly experience.

  17. Bert Young
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why Lord Heseltine is involved in making recommendations on the organisation of Local Government . He is very much a man of the past and not an individual I would trust to make meaningful and worthwhile observations obtained from a detailed understanding of this matter . He always was “broad brush” in his approach to things and , his under-mining of Margaret Thatcher is something I can never forgive him for . I can’t imagine his observations will be given any serious thought . Sir John Banham has already produced a detailed study of Local Government , so , before launching another , I suggest it is dug out and given further consideration .

  18. NickW
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    You want more growth? We need lower taxes.

    If you buy an item costing £100.00 you have to pay 20% VAT which makes it £120.00.

    If you pay tax at 40%, to have that £120 to spend you need £200.00 of salary.

    Please tell me if my maths is wrong.

    • David Price
      Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:51 am | Permalink

      You’ll need more than £200 to have the £100 of disposable income – you need to allow for NI, pension contributions, travel expenses…

  19. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    It was a huge mistake giving this brief to a pro-European interventionist like Lord Hesletine. What did Messrs Osborne and Cameron think he would say?

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      When is the Conservative Party going to purge itself of people like Lord Hesletine in influential places – and in the candidates list? If it doesn’t, its Euroscepticism is not going to be credible.

  20. Barbara Stevens
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid Lord Heslatine might be good for business but in politics not much good. His proposals if proven as said, would cost more money in the long run. Councils have enough problems finding money to service areas now within their control, without adding to it. He appears out of date with modern times, and yes, promotion for businesses whatever their size is paramount, but we need less control not more. Its control that stifles growth, and the means to expand businesses. Mr Heslatine is not now in government, and when he was I was not impressed. Perhaps like a good many old politicans they should retire and let those who are in the throws of government now, who are up to date with things, should take the helm. We have them from both sides of the house who refuse to go away, unless they are ignored or pushed through the door. I think its his time now. Blunt, but true, but meant with all respect.

  21. The Prangwizard
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    There is one boundary change, which was sneaked through by some Welsh MPs, was the transfer of Monmouthshire to Wales in 1974. As far as I know the people were not consulted. It should be returned to England.

  22. peter davies
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Its been pointed out that Mr Heseltine had a successful publishing business that grew at a time when business could grow without too much meddling. One wonders would it have been the same story if he tried to do the same now.

    This is the guy who constantly spouts the same EURO c**p, “One day the UK will join etc” – its ok for him, he is at the age where he won’t be around to reap the consequences of doing something so foolish – doesn’t say much about Mr Cameron’s choice of person to lead this.

    I agree that RDAs etc were a waste of time. The tax environment needs to be better than most other countries, the red tape environment needs to be better though not much I suspect can be done there until/unless we pull out of the EU and we need to follow the same kind of education strategy as Germany. They educate their kids to meet what business say they want and give engineering trades the same kind of status we might give finance and banking – this might not fit in with well with the mainly leftie education establishment and take years to see the benefit.

    Another crucial factor is transport infrastructure, for places with heavy industry in particular the rail and road networks maybe need looking at. For tech industries the electronic infrastructure is one.

    I have always felt that creating the right conditions for growth, low tax, high skills, minimal govt meddling, decent transport infrastructure hence why I always naturally lean to the tories

  23. They Work for US
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I was dismayed by a possible proposal to charge more road tax for people that use A roads and motorways.

    We are already paying many times over what it costs to build and maintain roads and the motorist is treated as a cash cow, you forget we can decide not to vote for a conservative or lab lib candidate. ie UKIP or a n independent as a protest. At worst the incumbent will lose their seat and have to return to the real world, hopefully without large golden goodbyes.

    How about restricting HGVs to the nearside lane of motorways to free up the space for the majority tax paying electors. As a government spend less and tax less to get the economy going.

    What will it take for MPs do do what their electors want. MPs do not necessarily know what is best and supporting Party against the electors wishes should result in unseating the MP sooner rather than later. MPs voting along party lines to further their own career is of little interest to the electors that disagree with the policy.

  24. forthurst
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I see Lord Heseltine, apart from his ideas on the reorganisation of local government, likely to be opposed by Mr Pickles, is to suggest extending the concept of public interest with regard to foreign takeovers of British companies. The present neo-liberal dispensation which allows foreign companies to take over British companies with money borrowed from taxpayer owned banks in order to provide banksters with short term profits so that manufacturing is moved to the cheapest possible location, throwing people on the dole, will not achieve growth. The solution is to reduce business costs imposed by Brussels and Westminster and improve transport infrastructure.

    The end game for neo-liberalism would be a country heaving at the seams with foreigners with little industry other than screw-driver factories and a third world standard of living. What is good for banksters isn’t necessarily good for the country.

  25. Sue Doughty
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    The best way to stop obstructing growth is to end the impending carbon tax. I cannot afford it and high energy dependent industries would rather relocate to foreign shores than pay it. They say it is an incentive to use zero carbon energy but charge carbon tax on all electricity regardless of how it is made, even on nuclear power station output!

  26. Winston Smith
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    As with the news that 75% of all appointees to quangos, charities, regulators, etc have been Labour Party supporters, since Cameron became MP, a report from a Europhile dinosaur, just cements the view that Cameron led Conservatives are New Labour in different rosettes. He has Labour supporters writing his speeches. He has Labour members designer policy at No.10. His rhetoric and actions have been consistantly anti-libertarian conservative. Why anyone remains in his Party, I don’t know.

  27. David Langley
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Any government that tries to distract me by running these sideshow issues whilst throwing billions away on foreign countries whether EU project countries or Foreign aid to Palestinian (Israeli prisoners) wives and families etc must be mad.
    How can we mess about with some goal post moving locally when the big issues are being ignored. We need to get real and start pouring our money into the things that get spending going then we can grow business. Stop the banking corruption and start lending as businesses grow, only the massive cash we currently give away is capable of kick starting the economy. Ignore the EU dictators and tell them to get their brass from somewhere else we need it here and now. Perhaps we should be hypothecating our taxes so we can see where its going and what its doing. Just pouring it into the easily wasted bottomless pit of the Treasury coffers hides the thieving.

  28. Iain Gill
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    why dont we print ever more work visas for foreign nationals?

    why dont we print more and more money?

    why dont we expand the public sector as a percentage of the economy?

    why dont we let people die for want of cheap simple medical treatment while continuing to feed the endlessly greedy self interest groups in the nhs?

    why dont we throw good money after bad at the worst schools in the developed world?

    why do we persecute the decent honest citizens working their socks off with ever crazier anti car measures?

    why dont we throw our national intellectual property away to our main competitors?

    why dont we spend ever more on countries that dont need it in the name of “aid”

    why dont we let folk with limited experience of the real world run the country?

    thats the real formula we need

    and i am glad to see we are doing all this and more already

  29. Adam5x5
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I read in yesterday’s papers that the Uk government will soon receive advice from Lord Heseltine on how to promote growth. Advice from anyone with ideas on how to do that is welcome.

    1. Cut government spending
    Main targets: EU budget, overseas aid, welfare, piss poor procurement practices, HS2.

    Cutting the government’s outgoings will allow the tax rates to fall, and allow people to keep more of what they earn. This in turn allows more spending and growth as people have more disposable income.
    Alternatively, keep the tax rate steady and pay off the debt quicker allowing tax rates to drop in the future as the debt comes down.

    2. Cut ‘lifestyle’ taxes (or what Cameron calls ‘nudging’)
    Main targets: Beer, fuel, cars

    The tax on beer merely favours supermarkets who absorb the cost and use cheap alcohol as a loss leader. Pubs can’t compete and are forced to raise prices, lowering their traffic. It is not the place of government to tell us how to live.
    The ever increasing duty on fuel merely drives inflation as supply chain costs increase.
    As an aside, I find it reprehensible that MPs think they need to form a committee to look at fuel prices charge by fuel companies when the gov’t takes ~60% of the cost.

    3. Cut regulation
    Main Targets: Working Time Directive, discrimination rules, H&S, hire & fire

    Make it easier for firms to operate, especially smaller ones. Though large firms would also benefit. It is pointless and costly having to employ someone to be a “Diversity Co-ordinator” and H&S has gotten far too excessive these days. I once had to have a half-hour course on how to use a step ladder that had three steps at an office for insurance purposes. Talk about a) patronising b) time wasting. In case people couldn’t figure out for themselves that best practice for using a ladder is to make sure its stable before going up…

    Three simple ideas which would allow growth.

  30. Jon
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Not so long ago I was watching a Westminster Hall debate on BBC Parliament, something the BBC does well, assuming its because it just involves a few remote cameras without much intervention.

    It was about the North East etc not getting enough funds and RDAs etc. Overall impression from the MPs that were complaining was I recon none of them had ever been to a trade fair. None of them had thought about carrying a trestle table and some posters to various trade fairs around Europe to sell the cheaper overhead costs and eager workforce of their constituency to the businesses out there.

    That said, maybe a bad idea as they may just put a collection box on the trestle go off for a bistro lunch and cappuchino.

    Like every other person in the private sector I’m too busy trying to compete for our slice of the business out there so I don’t want my costs going up threatening my job . What could the North East do with cheap overheads that relatively expensive areas like Skandinavia could do with.

    On a remotely related subject I have my doubts people will be interested in voting for Police Commissioners. Am I bothered about that? We had a vote on AV when I thought the Liberals were all about PR? Seems like have a vote of stuff you don’t want but not on the EU that you do want.

  31. uanime5
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Here’s hoping that Lord Heslatine’s report doesn’t say that growth = less workers’ rights.

    It also seems that unemployment is falling but because the Government combines the unemployment statistic of 3 months it appears to be rising because of the higher levels of employment during the Olympics.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/david-blanchflower/david-blanchflower-camerons-employment-claims-just-dont-add-up-8229950.html

  32. John Doran
    Posted October 30, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The constant theme in all these comments is growth.

    I am at present re-reading ‘A Blueprint for Survival’, a Penguin Special paperback published in 1972. It was first published as Vol 2, no 1 of The Ecologist magazine 1972.
    Co-authored by Edward Goldsmith, & endorsed by The Club of Rome.

    The first sentences are as follows: ” The principal defect of the industrial way of life with its ethos of expansion is that it is not sustainable. Its termination within the lifetime of someone born today is inevitable – unless it continues to be sustained for a while longer by an entrenched minority at the cost of imposing great suffering on the rest of mankind.”

    On a finite planet we cannot achieve infinite growth, neither in population nor in industry. This is the largest & most urgent problem facing our world today.

    The body taking action on this is the UN.
    At the Rio Earth Summit 1972, the UN published an 800 page blueprint for the 21st century on “sustainable development”
    Signed by George Bush snr 1972, & then by Bill Clinton 1973, it was never put before, or ratified by Congress.

    It’s sustainable policies include a huge reduction in world population numbers, the abolition of private property, & the abolition of the family.
    One policy is the equalisation of wealth between between continents.
    This means the impoverishment of the developed 1st world, & the enrichment of the 3rd world. This we are seeing now. Do not expect to see any substantial economic growth for years. Our Ridiculous carbon taxes & ludicrous ‘Big Wind’ energy policies , make sense only when viewed in this context.

    The UN also gave us the Global Warming Scam, UN IPCC 1988, to raise billions in carbon taxes to pay for UN Agenda 21. Luckily, the clothes are coming off the Global Warming Emperor.

    Interestingly, Alabama was the first American State to ban UN Agenda 21, in June.
    Other States are following.

    We live in interesting times.
    JD.

  33. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Related subject: Growth OF government

    As my polling card advises, I visited the http://www.choosemypcc.org.uk web site in order to find out about police and crime commissioners and came across this nugget:

    “….. PCCs will be elected by you to ensure the policing needs of your community are met as effectively as possible and to oversee how crime is tackled in your area………………… [means of delivery] …………………….
    – Engaging with the public and victims of crime to help set police and crime plans;
    – Ensuring the police force budget is spent where it matters most; and
    – Appointing, and where necessary dismissing, the chief constable.”

    There is a not very well hidden background to this. The police cannot enforce all of the law because parliament has passed too many laws for that to be practical. Accordingly, somebody has to appointed politically to set police priotities. The alternative would be to scrap outdated laws so that the system of laws and the means to enforce them were in balance. Parliament could do that.

    There will be 41 of these elected police and crime commissioners, plus their offices and staff and, no doubt, the odd PR pi____k in support. Here in Hampshire, the Conservative pcc candidate is the Heseltine loving 78 year old Europhile Michael Mates. I wonder which laws he will prioritise.

    The Conservative Party is proud of its quango scrapping and civil service streamlining. However, PCCs are the second unnecessary organ of govrnment that it has created. The other was the Office of Budget Responsibility, which was supposed to be impartial, independent of HM Treasury, and produce better economic forecasts. Yet OBR forecasts have been as full of cock-eyed and irrational optimism as anybody elses.

  34. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted October 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Uncle Redwood,
    Why does David Cameron’s new ‘compassionate’ Conservatives (and the establishment) find it so appealing to wheel out ancient Conservative ‘wets’. It’s not like they have a proven track record of being on the right side of any significant argument..or enjoy popular support within the party or the country. It’s infuriating for those that wish true conservative values to be upheld within the party , to then find that we are denied a voice at the most senior levels.

    IN: Lord Michael Heseltine,Lord John Patten, Sir George Young, Kenneth Clarke.

    OUT :John Redwood (disgracefully!) ..Norman Tebbit (apparently denied the ear of David Cameron) , Dan Hannan (sent to Europe), Douglas Carswell (Ignored and mocked publically by David Cameron).

  35. RDM
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi JR,

    Re: Newsnight 30/10/12

    If the cost of living, and Productivity, continues to grow faster than wages – for most people, is it inevitable, what can we expect?

    In a Global market; will wages continue to fall until they equalize with world wages?

    Having taken a sharp-shot of the Income distribution, is the Government (Two Brains aka DW) right just to target those in un-skilled groups with apprenticeships?

    If the future balance of the Economy is toward the High Value added, Technology, and the Professions, do we actually need a lot more smaller Banks, high tech start-ups, and a skills revolution, enough to absorb a lot of these un-skilled groups? Combined with the larger company’s (BG) needing semi-skilled apprentices, will it be enough?

    And;

    With the long awaited report by Lord Heseltine looking backward to Regional Development agencies, the much maligned Infrastructure projects (i.e. total crap that is the Seven Barrage), and the recognition that central governments are not the answer. He also recognizes that money is not getting to the Regions (of GB!!!!), why is he so against funding new Banks (Many), couldn’t the Government hold equity of many new regional based Banks?

    The Government holding equity of someone from GB will be accepted (Politically) a lot more than foriegn company’s holding British assets!

    Just opening up (developing) some ideas.

    Regards,

    RDM.

  • 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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