What would rebalance the economy?

 

       The pursuit of recovery has understandably taken precedence over rebalancing the economy. The original idea of the Coalition was to shift from too much reliance on a debt financed public sector, to more reliance on an energetic private sector. Within the private sector, there was a wish to reduce dependence on financial services and banking, and increase the share of manufacturing. I was always very happy with these aims, with the possible amendment that I did not wish to see actions taken to curtail successful activities in the service sector, but rather wished to see better conditions to allow faster growth in manufacturing as the best way of rebalancing within the private sector.

           As we have seen over the last three years the government  has not stuck to the task of rebalancing. Real public spending continued to rise, with the pace only recently slowing down.  Instead of just being bombarded with complaints about too little spending, there have been many still writing in against HS2, high overseas aid budgets, the waste of the European budget, misdirected spending in a variety of public services and much else, whilst the modest steps so far taken to curb the gr0wth in welfare spending have led many to want the government to achieve more in cutting welfare bills.

           Nor has the government done enough to trigger a major manufacturing revival. The task has been made more difficult by the continued recession in Euroland, a prime market for industry. It has also been deferred by the high and rising energy prices, which have made high energy using industries less competitive and also made it tougher for any well automated factory. There has been no breakthrough with reducing the costs of EU regulation. The Coalition has watched as new law is heaped on new law, often making it dearer to do business in the EU. The policies needed to raise educational and training standards and produce a new generation of engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians of the kind modern industry needs by definition will take time to come to fruition.

                   The government does need to concentrate on a supply side revolution. Productivity has been poor in the UK since the crash. There are still sectors where competition is weak or non existent thanks to government interference.  Our transport networks are not as good as we need. The government is now turning  its attention to water, to power, to roads and to broadband. It needs to do so. The march of the makers the Chancellor vividly wanted will depend on a better approach to education and training, to transport, to energy and to competitive markets. Above all it needs cheaper energy to  bring about, something the Chancellor is keen to achieve.

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61 Comments

  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    All very true.
    Too much pandering to “the general public” over taxes, Welfare and the NHS. Far too little attempt to reform any of it. We are not Esthonia. No Mart Laar here. So incredibly inefficient taxes and bigger and bigger debts. (“A heavy and progressive graduated income tax” as Karl Marx put it in 1848)
    An attempt to bring schools up to the mark. They are not, possibly, quite so scandalously bad as they were under Labour. Sweden, we are not. No IES here! Selection? Forget it! Vouchers? Never!! (What would the Guardian say? Or the Civil Servants at the DfE?)
    Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has openly supported Europe. (Who is the new UKREP?) And the stream of Directives is nodded through. (Mr Hague and the Foreign Office pundits must be very pleased.)

    BUT Hey! Gay people can get married!!!!

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Mike Stallard: You last line sums many Tory voters and those on the right wing within the party, out of touch with the majority in the country!…

      You decry what the Guardian (readership) thinks but fail to recognise that the Tory party these days needs the centrist floating vote, the “hang ’em & flog ’em” brigade hasn’t been the majority for years, even Mrs T had to court the the wetter than wets to get elected and more importantly stay elected.

  2. peter davies
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    You have covered it well – from an industrial manufacturing perspective we need cheaper energy – simple as. Shale is an obvious candidate – leaving the EU and freeing ourselves of whatever our marvelous UK politicians have signed up to is another.

    A competitive cost environment coupled by a fit for purpose workforce are surely the main ingredients that will lead to new industries basing themselves here or being developed from scratch.

    Your not going to achieve this with windmills and reams of EU red tape

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      The best way to get a “fit for work” work force is perhaps to stop the government encouraging people not to work (or even learn to work) by paying them not to. Also to get rid of all the laws that discourage companies (and individuals) from employing people and sorting out the many dreadful state schools.

      • A different Simon
        Posted August 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic ,

        I agree with everything you say above but would request clarification on one point please .

        Are you advocating that :-
        A) People who can’t get a job in the private sector be deprived of income ?
        Or
        B) That the state offers paying work to people who can’t get a job elsewhere ?

        I really hope it is B) but that would seem to contradict what you say about terminating public sector real jobs like tax inspectors who collect on average 30 times their wages in tax which would otherwise have to be made up by other people and public sector make-work type jobs .

        • Bazman
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

          Another meaningless lifeoic rant supported by many like him.He means they should be made more desperate and this will create work added to by reducing wages conditions and safety. It’s that simple. Could we ever compete with five to a room/car of fleet footed intelligent young East Europeans and should we?

          • A different Simon
            Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

            Bazman ,

            Good to see you .

            I haven’t been visiting this blog so much recently .

            I felt the topics John was choosing were bringing the worst out of people and that it caused the blog to decline .

            Picking on a soft target like the NHS is easy but hardly an excuse for throwing the baby out with the bath water and actively trying to undermine it is shameful .

            Reply The NHS is not a “soft target” but a most important issue. No-one is trying to undermine it – there is a debate about how to improve it.

      • Jerry
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: What you say but first there needs to be the work, unless you really are suggesting that people should be left destitute (and if so people like you [1] will be complaining that the level of crime is like that of some 3rd world countries were law and order has all but collapsed), thus we need something you have not mentioned – government need to make it very easy to start up a SME, or even for a sole trader to start up, this means making sure that they are not discouraged because of red-tape etc.

        [1] although not perhaps you as you don’t seem to live in the UK

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    JR: “Above all it needs cheaper energy to bring about, something the Chancellor is keen to achieve.”
    Really?
    The Telegraph published the following on 30 July: “The report, by the Energy and Climate Change Committee, cites calculations by the Department of Energy and Climate Change from March that by 2020 levies relating to energy and climate change policies will have added 33 percent to the average electricity price paid by UK households, in addition to any wholesale price rises.”
    Sounds like Osborne’s keen to fleece us under the pretext of “climate change” rather than have cheaper energy prices.
    Overall the thrust of your comments just confirms what a poor performance there has been by the Conservative-led coalition. They are just like Labour and in parliament we have a virtual one party state.

    • Hope
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      And there is a difference between tax breaks and subsidies. JR knows it so does the chancellor. This is political point scoring without substance. Look at the rail fare increases today, energy price increases, water charge increases and then ask what have the Tories achieved in three years? Reducing welfare to the average wage, hardly a success. 299 tax rises and no substantive spending cuts to date. Any wonder the economy is still in a mess. The EU and gay marriage will not fix these problems.

  4. Paul H
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    “The pursuit of recovery has understandably taken precedence over rebalancing the economy” should read: “The pursuit of a pre-election boom and bubble has unforgiveably taken precedence over rebalancing the economy”.

    I don’t know why you are choosing to give Osborne such credit in the last paragraph. It has been his watch for the last three years. It would be easier to believe there is nothing more he could have done (because of the EU, Euro, LibDems, or whatever) had he actually concentrated on the day-job instead of taking so much time out to plot Conservative tactics, to be seen with Obama when he should have been working on a budget, etc.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      Paul H ,

      It took the Coalition 2 years to decide they actually wanted to be in Govt . There looks to be an element of viewing the economy is a stack of cards and being scared of making any changes .

      George Osborne seems to be trying the best he knows and I’ll give him some benefit of the doubt that he sincerely thought the “right to buy” scheme would increase the housing stock and was not electioneering .

      Still think he is too young and not serious enough for the job .

      What was lacking was a vision for bringing down the cost of living from the start . Another 5 years , opportunities and hundred of billions of pounds wasted . Plus ca change .

  5. Brian Taylor
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    How much longer will it take for those in power to realise that cheaper energy is not possible while we stick to the targets in the 2008 Climate Change Act,and the targets that Blair signed upto from the EU!!!!
    Unless the conservatives start to say what they want back from the EU and what any future arrangement will look like they or Labour will be hog tied with another coalition with the Lib. Dems and we will all be stuffed.
    Wake up before its to late.
    On the plus side DC has at last supported Fracking!

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Brian ,

      I’m no fan of the EU but the 2008 Climate Change act is 100% self inflicted . Don’t let the poli’s palm the blame off on the EU .

      The UK set a limit of CO2 emissions per Kw/H of half of the new advanced coal power stations in Germany in order to specifically preclude coal .

      Coal under the Humber Estuary alone has the energy equivalent of 6 billion barrels of oil/36tcf of natural gas which could now be gasified in situ if the Westminster , Islington and Forest Hill set would not stop it .

      I’m glad that they have made a sensible decision with regards to allowing frac’ing (there is no “k” in fracturing) in the exploration phase .

      The geology of albeit shallow chalk freshwater aquifers makes it more complex to have upwards of a thousand wells in the Wealden Basin (regardless of whether hydraulic fracturing is required or acidisation proves sufficient) than in the Bowland Basin , Widmerpool Gulf and Gainsborough Trough .

      No doubt the media will mistakenly portray this a being due to political rather than geological reasons other than geology .

      Nevertheless the perceived/actual risks present an opportunity for the UK to come up with some bespoke solutions and become the leader of this industry in Europe .

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      @Brian Taylor: “On the plus side DC has at last supported Fracking!

      Yeah and just look at the response it has got from NIMBY Blue voters in the south, well let’s hope they are all true blue voters, otherwise the left (Labour, the SLP and the Greens) will all be getting an election boost in a very unexpected part of the country!

  6. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The quote I gave was not from the Telegraph but Tax-news.com. It is accurate as can be seen by checking the appropriate parliamentary website for that committee’s report.

  7. Javelin
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Innovation, entrepeneurship, world leadership.

    We showed world leadership in the the 18th century !!! I have no idea why we suddenly feel we cant do it now. Fear I guess. But thats just central planners mindsets and not the mind sets of entrepeneurs.

    I think you can target currently growing sectors and you need to be agile (and I mean under a year) in changing the law and regulations to support it – for example all the rules around genetic engineering. You need a war like footing and a must do will do attititude in Government.

    I don’t think you can ask what sector next – because that is implicit central planning.

  8. lifelogic
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Virtually nothing has been done to rebalance the economy as yet. US (non green religion) prices for energy (gas, petrol and electricity at 60% of UK costs) would be a huge boost to manufacturing and demand.

    We should sort out some of the abuses of the legal (and some other) professions, we have far too many lawyers and state sector parasites, many causing active damage to the productive. We need to halve the activities of the state sector, much is totally pointless or actually damaging. Idiotic projects like HS2 other rail plans and Cameron’s cycling drivel should go now. Heathwick or Heathrow hub expansion needs to start now (ideally about ten years ago).

    A cycling super highway following HS2 now I hear – one new pathetic gimmick every day it seems! Some proper road provision is needed, the main demand is air and roads not bikes and trains.

    We still have tax borrow and waste all over the place from Cameron. Nearly 50% of GDP still largely wasted on poor and often totally dreadful or pointless so called public services. We still have 45% income tax, 28% CGT, 40% IHT, stamp duty up to 15%, NI circa 22%, fuel duties 70%(?), council tax, rates, endless fines, dysfunctional & very expensive banks, no sense of positive vision/direction, expensive energy, poor infrastructure, more and more suffocating EU and other regulations and costs. Even worse (albeit only slightly) Ed Miliband and Ed Balls in 2015.

    Can one really expect much growth in the UK?

    • Jerry
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: “A cycling super highway following HS2 now I hear – one new pathetic gimmick every day it seems! Some proper road provision is needed, the main demand is air and roads not bikes and trains.

      Very true, although there is a demand for rail, not many in the SE would wish to see rail commuters on the roads, whilst rail is perfect for block trains – hence why I and others keep suggesting a Bern loading gauge (at least) fright network rather than the current fixation on a passenger HS network.

  9. Nick
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    It’s back to the debts you’ve run up and won’t admit too.

    Pensions.

    You’re having to tax and not deliver services just to stay liquid. To hell with future generations, you’re doing what they did in “Round the world in 80 days”. You’re burning the ship.

    NI is already running at at 10% overspend. [PS why does it cost 5% a year in admin costs to run NI?]

    So you can’t pay the pensions. That means defaulting. Better to default now rather than later.

    PS We’ve also eaten all the fish.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Many of us who have now retired, but who served many of our formative years in manufacturing industry, would share your view that we as a Country need to increase our manufacturing capacity, but it not that simple.

    A company that simply box shifts, needs just a simple storage facility, unskilled or semi skilled labour, and a good website.

    A manufacturing business first of all needs to either act as a subcontractor to a larger business, or have a product range itself.

    In the subcontractor case they compete directly with other subcontractors for such business, and in many cases their competitors are usually far far away in other countries.

    When manufacturing your own product you have to start with a product idea, complete reaserch, design, testing, deveopment and bring to market.
    They then need to grow demand for their product and so need presentation and sales skills and manufacture to hold stock.

    Thus in both manufacturing cases need to have a factory, with both skilled, semi skilled and an unskilled workforce,.
    They need to spend many many hundreds of thousands of pounds (millions even) on machinery and equipment, which uses expensive power, and they have to purchase raw materials that they have to turn into product.

    Given that many of the skill sets required for such an operation are learnt over very many years (forget 6 week-6 month training courses) it is essential that such skills are available and that more can be taught.

    The very fact that governemt and business has promoted “the everyone must go to university, or you are deemed a failure” mantra of the past few decades, has been but just one of the reasons for our manufacturing demise, as polytechnics have converted to poor universities.

    The government would be wise to take on board that it takes but a few minutes to close a manufacturing business, it takes very many years to build one.

    Like wise Banks need to learn that some businesses need much more time to come to fruitition than others.

  11. Man of Kent
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    We have had loads of unfunded Coalition spending commitments .

    What about some ‘unfunded ‘ tax reductions to make hard work pay better.
    We might even find the tax take increases.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Indeed somewhat lower tax rates would give more tax take, more wealthy would stay and confidence would return. But for the fact that the next election has already been lost by Cameron so it is a bit late now.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Hard working millionaires have been well rewarded, so what results have we seen from these tax cuts and have they been economically sensible or just dogmatic fantasy?

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        What tax cuts their have not been any other than the 50% to 45% IT. Just tax increases all over the place.

        • Jerry
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          @Lifelogic: Indeed but many of those tax increases have affected everyone, even those without work and thus on a fixed income or none, millionaires are sitting very pretty thanks to that 5% tax cut, who would not scoff at a -in effect- £1k pw (or even pm) pay increase!

        • Bazman
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Don’t see any great drop in London house prices. What does that tell you?

          • Edward2
            Posted August 14, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

            It tells you well over half of London property sales are to overseas buyers mainly Chinese and Russians.
            The 5% reduction for high earners, which still leaves them paying a higher rate than Labour were happy with for almost all their 13 years in power, has had little or no effect on prices.

  12. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    This isyour expertise, I would rather learn first rather than make an inane comment.

  13. ian wragg
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    John, It would appear that the unspoken agenda of your party and the other 2 excuses for parties is to de-industrialise the UK by pricing energy far above other countries. Another reason is the continued mountain of red tape which is squeezing the lifeblood from the private sector.
    Industries continue to be lost to France and Germany as we head for theme park status with a soviet style economy.
    CMD can only concentrate on his future within the EU after you have been well and truly trounced at the next election.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      “continued mountain of red tape which is squeezing the lifeblood from the private sector.”

      It’s squeezing the life out of the public sector as well as teachers and head teachers who are supposed to read through literally thousands of pages of new directives every year can testify .

      That and setting of ill thought out targets for targets sake .

  14. Iain Gill
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Re “raise educational and training standards and produce a new generation of engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians of the kind modern industry needs” mmm why would anyone choose to study these subjects when folk can see they are being outsourced to India or Indian nationals here on uncapped ICT work visas?

    Re “Nor has the government done enough to trigger a major manufacturing revival.” The anti pollution measures and their enforcement are the harshest in the world, why put a plant here when the costs of the anti pollution kit will add 30% to production costs?

    You have to ask the fundamental question… what is the UK going to do to earn its crust in the world? At the moment the answer from the political bubble seems to be financial services and nothing else.

    I don’t think the political class are up to running the country.

  15. Atlas
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Manufacturing in this country only makes sense if the combination of wages, raw materials and, importantly, transport costs is favourable compared to elsewhere.

    Stuck in the EU we have the problem that our competitors can alter the rules to nobble any rivals (the UK) within it. Unfortunately all this does is hobble the whole EU when it comes to trade with other parts of the World.

    Clearly the best way to increase our manufacturing is by us being outside the EU as this will reduce those costs that are due to EU envy.

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Atlas ,

      Whilst I would love to leave the EU UK high energy prices are more self-inflicted than EU imposed .

      As it stands most peoples wages do not cover the cost of living if you account for it properly by including making provision for old age .

      The cost of living must be brought down for household finances to balance to and keep us from becoming less competitive but nobody in Westminster seems to want to face down the vested interests which make their living out of inflated house and land prices .

    • uanime5
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Care to explain why Germany hasn’t been hobbled by any of these rules or why they’d want to include rules that would harm their own industries?

  16. Sue
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    It just won’t happen while we are shackled to that corpse, the EU. Too many aspects of the economy are out of British politicians hands. How do you expect to achieve anything when you have no real control?

    Invoke Art 50, get the deals negotiated that we need and get on with it.

  17. Pleb
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    At the moment these decisions are up to Brussels. Our local government has no reall control any more. You guys just continue to jump up and down over the trivial whilst our country is controlled by the European elite. Still, a ten grand pay rise must help to soften the blow of loosing power.

  18. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Scrap HS2.

    Put a few billion into a new car production plant in the West Midlands – utilising all the excellent design and engineering capability that exists in this country.

    And, the thing I have never understood, encourage people to buy British. Everyone. Not just consumers. Surely companies must realise that it is in their own interests to buy British – if the quality and price are the same.

    I used to work in the construction industry and had to regularly buy pencil sharpeners. Every shop that sold them – the metal ones all had ‘Made in Germany’ on them.

    It there no-one in this country that could make a robust, sharp, metal pencil sharpener – and could the big stationers not stock them?

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Mike ,

      You could say the same about outdoor wear .

      The decent fabrics all seem to be licensed to a Western company but the garments are produced in China .

      They are expensive in outdoors shops and I can’t believe we couldn’t license the materials and make them for a similar amount over here .

      I went to a renowned shirt company with a colourful name in Jermyn Street about 5 years ago only to discover their shirts are no longer made in Britain of Irish cloth . I told them I thought they had committed financial suicide by relinquishing their unique selling point .

      There is only so much any Government can do . It will never be enough .

      People have understand that it is in their long term interest to buy British and when they don’t see the option to demand it .

  19. uanime5
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    whilst the modest steps so far taken to curb the gr0wth in welfare spending have led many to want the government to achieve more in cutting welfare bills.

    I wouldn’t describe these cuts as modest. Of the 1.18 million households where no one works 155,000 (13%) can mitigate the effect of the cuts by finding work and 115,000 (9.7%) can move in order to avoid the bedroom tax. However 910,000 (77%) households are being hit with benefit cuts which they have no way to mitigate, which is probably why food banks are receiving a record number of people. Expect councils to have to cut back on spending to provide for all the people harmed by the Government’s benefit cuts.

    Also if the Government is trying to cut benefits to encourage people to work then why is the Government also cutting benefits for those who work, including tax credits? This policy is all stick and no carrot.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-real-cost-of-benefits-squeeze-1600-per-family-8756554.html

    The policies needed to raise educational and training standards and produce a new generation of engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians of the kind modern industry needs by definition will take time to come to fruition.

    This new generation will also need better salaries and promotion prospects than the current generation to prevent them emigrating or working in other industries.

    Reply The number of people with jobs has risen and the benefits bill has gone up. How do you explain that?

    • zorro
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      Could it possibly be more immigrants getting work at low salaries and claiming in work benefits and tax credits?

      zorro

    • uanime5
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      Well there’s 4 main reasons for this:

      1) The rise in house prices had made the total cost of housing benefit more expensive.

      2) The ageing population has made the cost of pensions more expensive.

      3) Most of the people in work were not claiming benefits while unemployed, which is why the number of unemployed people who are claiming benefits keeps going up while the number of people who are unemployed remains constant.

      4) Someone is considered in work if they work more than 1 hour per week. So it’s possible that many people now in employment earn so little that they’re claiming nearly the same amount in benefits.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Quite simple John. Most of the jobs created as claimed by the Tory government are part time and zero hours causing the state to have to subsidise these non jobs via the benefit system. Some are even being told contacted by the DSS as an the case of a single mother I know and being told they can stop work as they would be better off on benefits and who can blame them for stopping work if this is the case? Easy to blame the benefits system, but why work to fund childcare and prop up someone else’s business? The time could be much better used to get education and training to find a better job or to be a better parent an old Tory axe grind about working mothers.

  20. Dan H.
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Tell you what, let’s cure all this whinging about International Development once and for all. Let us set the ID budget to 0.7% of the UK’s budget surplus.

    It is inevitable that many will disagree with this; to them I would point out the obvious solution: give some of your own money to charity. Job done.

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      Cameron say he gives tax payers money in overseas aid – because we are a generous nation! If we are generous why on earth does he need to force people to give aid from taxes gathered under threat of imprisonment?

      They will give themselves rather more efficiently anyway if they are generous like Bill & Melinda Gates?

    • A different Simon
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Dan H.

      How much of that “International Development” and also “Overseas Aid” are sweeteners and greasing ?

      Looks like an accounting exercise to me , just like “consultancy” in some businesses .

  21. Pleb
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I know, as a government lets concentrate of cycle lanes throughout the country. You are having a laugh arn’t you !!

    • lifelogic
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Cameron is clearly bonkers, no retirement laws, more women on boards by government diktat, royal gender succession laws, neutral gender insurance laws, bike lanes, HS2, telling barristers in criminal courts and people what they may not say or even think, a promised referendum years after he has left office, energy at nearly twice the price it should be, Cable as a business secretary and Ed Davey at Energy. happiness indexes, nearly 50% of GDP mainly wasted by government …. has the man taken a total leave of his senses?

      How are those EU negotiation going has he decided what powers he even wants back yet? Perhaps is he too busy looking for new distraction politics like the above and thinking about a new job for 2015?

      • lifelogic
        Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        And the absurd and totally counter productive GAAR (The General Anti-Abuse Rule tax laws).

  22. oldtimer
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Healthy rebalancing is more likely to occur if business plays on a level, or more level, playing field. Right now the energy sector is distorted by excessive subsidies on the one hand (so-called green energy sources) and excessive taxes on the other (fossil fuel taxes and regulations). This is entirely a result of government action. The same is true of the Chancellor`s sub-prime initiative which seems likely to provoke a housing bubble.

    The best thing that government`s can do is get out of the way. Unfortunately this generation of politicians appear to have learned nothing from previous generations of politicians who regularly screwed up the economy by ill-considered policies and interventions.

  23. forthurst
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    “Within the private sector, there was a wish to reduce dependence on financial services and banking, and increase the share of manufacturing.”

    What positive steps have been taken to achieve this?

    “The policies needed to raise educational and training standards and produce a new generation of engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians of the kind modern industry needs by definition will take time to come to fruition.”

    The future subjunctive would be more appropriate in this sentence.

  24. Leslie Singleton
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe in this so-called “re-balancing” lark–The idea given that there are two ‘halves’ that have to be balanced, as it were on scales, is not a goal that I recognise–The economy, both individually and as a whole, simply needs to get bigger wherever and in whatever way that can be achieved. Not a terribly good analogy but it’s a bit like two Villages in the countryside, one of which has a garage and the other a Post Office. They do not have to balance for they both point in the right direction and are not trying to cancel each other out.

  25. Bazman
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    How are we all getting on with our privatisation fantasies given the Thames water storey? You are going to put this on healthcare? No you are not it would be political suicide and the end of all such insider companies their supporters and their apologist fantasies. See that story lifedogic? It was on Channel 4 news not the BBC, so I suppose you did not? Ryan Air and the first years of the welfare state are also featured tonight in this disgusting propaganda channel..

    • Bazman
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      Not very well it seems. LOL!

  26. Andy Baxter
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    What would rebalance the (our) economy?:

    this:

    our demands……….check the link above under website.

  27. lojolondon
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    John, I could balance the economy by this time tomorrow if you like.
    Phase 1 (today).
    Cancel all payments to the EU.
    Cancel all Foreign Aid.
    With £30 Billion a year savings, spend 10B on housing construction, pay off our debts with the other £20B.
    Phase 2 (tomorrow).
    Initiate commonwealth trading agreement.
    Repeal all ‘uman rights, ealf n safety, and EU employment laws.
    Cut personal tax by at least 10% at every level.
    Sit back and enjoy.

    Reply £20 bn reduces the increase in debt by 18%, it does not start cancelling any debt.
    Simples.

    • uanime5
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      All removing human rights, health and safety, and EU employment laws will do is cause all the smart people to leave the UK for countries where they’ll be treated much better.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Obviously never done a job more dangerous than sharpening a pencil, so how the construction industry would benefit from this is not by improvements to working conditions or wages in his Klondike building programme even with 10% tax cuts for casual labour.

  28. Leslie Singleton
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    This business with Bryant has gone beyond a joke. Can it really be true that if Labour get back in he will be in charge of immigration? What an unmitigated disaster Labour have already been on this subject for this country. Miliband will obviously be getting rid of Bryant whether either of them likes it or not but how does he get rid of himself? I’ll say this for Miliband though: he does at least call immigration immigration instead of the totally disgraceful and obfuscating “net migration”. Why wasn’t Brown attainted for his self-evident mendacity on the subject?

  29. Martin
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    So where do the Tory shires stand (sorry) on shale gas?

    Reply Most of us want it produced in ways which are sensitive to the environment and do no harm to water courses etc. All this is quite possible.

    • Bazman
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      The ‘environment’ being how far way it is from their house and how near to someone else’s. If it is near tower blocks then so much the better. Count on it.

  • 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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