How can the UK earn its living?

 

Germany exports luxurious gas guzzling cars to the world’s rich. You do not hear many  Germans queuing up to complain about the conduct of Mercedes customers, seeking to expose the tax dodges of some who buy luxury cars. Nor are most Germans keen  to regulate and tax the high fuel using car industry out of existence in the name of the environment. Germany may be green in  some ways, but never in a way which would stop it making so many high fuel burning vehicles.

The UK sells top end flats to the same people, building very expensive flats that would otherwise not exist. We sell  the super rich a little bit of London. Many in the UK think this is a disaster. They clamour for higher Stamp duty and Capital Gains to try to tax them out. They talk about other possible controls. In a way the UK product is shrewder than the German. Whereas the German car, once exported, is serviced and maintained in a foreign country, the UK flat stays here and provides UK jobs to furnish, equip and service it. The UK can carry on taxing the flat owner, whilst the overseas country gets to tax the German car.

France sells some expensive processed water to the super rich in the form of wines and perfumes. You do not hear the French complaining that the rich are getting inebriated on French wines, or that the foreign buying means that French people can no longer afford their own Chateau  Latour or Yquem. They work hard to package the wine and tell the story of its production in a way geared to maximise the revenue take from the world’s super rich for the “finest” wines available.

The Uk specialises in private banking and financial services for those same super rich. The air is thick with complaints about the charges and practices of parts of the banking and financial service industry. The UK is quick to condemn and keen to tax and regulate one of its best money earners. Do too much and the rich will be off to Switzerland or Hong Kong for those services. All main political parties want to change the balance between financial services and the rest. Germany does not have a policy of reducing its dependence on auto manufacture.

I am all in favour of us broadening the range of products and services we can sell abroad. It makes sense to do so. What does not make sense is to be so critical of the ways we currently have of earning overseas revenue, before we have found better ways of paying the bills. Maybe part of the answer to help pay for all the imports is to export more financial and banking services, and sell more top end flats. Otherwise we have to carry on selling off the assets we already own, as we have had to do in recent years given the large balance of payments deficit. One of the hard truths of lfie that socialists do not like is you have to sell more to the rich, as they have the money to employ people.

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90 Comments

  1. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I hope these super flats have the best interior designers and quality goods which they deserve and are regularly upgraded to a standard which becomes the best pages in the glossy homes magazines . Of course the saying goes that you cannot judge effectively until you have walked in another man’s shoes . I therefore propose being super rich for a short while to test the water.
    My dream 40 years ago was to own a Mercedes sport. I visualised it in my minds eye ( or pineal gland) I did some cosmic ordering , I put my pennies into savings..we all know what happened with savings.. and ten years later many were driving around in Mercedes sports cars. I drove what dad used to call a station wagon. My Citroen today is fine. Why do I prefer foreign cars to English cars? The answer must be in the design as my technical/ mechanical knowledge is nil..so why can’t we come up with a design which appeals.
    The Nissan’ Juke’ is a type of car which currently appeals and is a good car for kids buggies, and bags of nappy bags. What do we make?
    We are now making some very fine English wines which are light and are preferable to many French dinner wines. Do you think the French would accept our wines?
    Perhaps we need to export more tat and simply buy selective good stuff.
    Our windmills are far better than Holland’s windmills . Could we go to the Dutch with or products.
    Perhaps we can open many pound shops in the abroad ( the quaint old pound) and upstage in tat.

    • John E
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      All the Nissan Jukes for the European market actually are made in the UK, at the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Assembled not made.
        Made is something different to assembly.
        They do the bare minimum to qualify as European produced.

        • margaret brandreth-j
          Posted May 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          Just an example of what is appealing.

    • J A
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      The difference between a car and a flat is that everyone knows the true value of the car.

      Once the flat owner and the rest of the world realises the true – hollowed out – nature of Britain then what of the flat’s value ?

      The foreign ownership of top end flats is accompanied by a trend in foreign ownership of ordinary flats – so that workers can be stripped of wages and the government stripped of welfare rent. The money then leaves the country.

      We have gone beyond selling the silver. We have gone beyond living off our own fat – we are now in the process of consuming our own marrow.

      • libertarian
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        J A

        Your lack of acuity is astounding but also sadly indicative of so many of our fellow countrymen who seem to have lost all sense of awareness about the world and business in one generation.

        So tell us what is the “true” value of a car? Which car a Nissan Duke ? a Ferrari or maybe a hybrid electric car like a Porsche 918? What is the true value of a house any where?

        The government stripped of welfare rent? Ha ha ha that is the most deluded statement I’ve read on here and Ive read some rubbish.

        Yes there is a problem with affordable homes in central London, er thats it that is the sum total of the problem. Hey guess what ? its the same in New York, Zurich, Paris and Berlin.

        Meanwhile anyone with a brain who can’t afford central London prices won’t buy or rent in central London just a mere 12 miles from central London on a direct rail link you can buy 3 bed properties between £150 & £210 k

        • APL
          Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

          libertarian: “Yes there is a problem with affordable homes in central London, er thats it that is the sum total of the problem.”

          The problem is, the insatiable demand for housing caused by the British governments open borders policy.

          The problem is exacerbated by the requirement to house at the state’s expense any Tom, Dick or Harry that washes up on our shores.

          Demand far and away exceeds supply so the price for everyone else rises.

          • libertarian
            Posted May 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

            APL

            “Demand far and away exceeds supply so the price for everyone else rises.”

            Only in London and one or two other hotspots, meanwhile in other parts of the country you almost can’t give houses away. Its the same the world over. That is the point of supply and demand.

            What we actually need is for other parts of the country to become attractive and desirable. In order to do that we need to radically change our undemocratic system of government and let local areas manage raise and keep their own finances

          • libertarian
            Posted May 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

            Dear JA

            Er cars deteriorate and become unusable after a few years. Houses don’t. Cars depreciate in value, houses don’t. I’ve no idea how old you are but when I bought my first house nearly 35 years ago the average house price was about 5 time salary then too ! Oh and interest rates were 17% !!! As far back as I can remember people have complained about house prices in London and the South East. They’ve always been too expensive and always will be. 23% of ALL UK households are in Greater London,

            Do You Spot The Problem?

            House prices are out of kilter with local wages in Germany, Switzerland Singapore, New York Hong Kong and loads of other places. Ever heard of supply and demand?

            I only insult people as you put it who really can’t see the wood for the trees and try to insult our intelligence with statements that are blatantly ridiculous if you bothered to look around you.

            You don’t mind insulting the people of Kent then? Sorry chap but hypocrisy is one of the things that make me vitriolic on these sites. Kent is rather a nice county and not at all a right state as you claim.

            You seem to have completely failed to understand what Dr Redwood has said about selling high end property in central London. You clearly don’t understand how business works and the point that was being made. That theses people bring jobs, money, and tax income too.

            Very few people pay CGT on the sale of their homes. You are getting yourself very confused.

            Your rude an xenophobic rant about “these people” not paying tax on the money they used in the first place is pathetic. I think you need to go and reassess what on earth you are talking about

          • APL
            Posted May 11, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            libertarian: “What we actually need is for other parts of the country to become attractive and desirable.”

            That’d be nice.

            But, we could start by removing the incentive to arrive in the UK and drive one’s fangs into the welfare state.

            I’d suggest, ten year crime free residency tax affairs in order before a resident is eligible for welfare.

            Health treatment should be covered by a residents own private insurance until then.

        • JA
          Posted May 9, 2014 at 1:18 am | Permalink

          Libertarian – You can’t expect a car newly launched to market (whichever make) to fall by 40% in price without the manufacturer suffering real and immediate losses or even going bust. The manufacturer must, therefore, align all his costs realistically to enable a profit within a highly competitive market. As cars are not mortgage-able over long terms their prices must match more closely real money.

          Do you spot the difference with house prices ?

          In the UK (as pointed out by the OECD) house prices are well out of kilter with both local wages and the rents which they could achieve. There is a lot of funny money about in HTB, mortgage multiples and foreign cash buyers (more of which later.) House prices could drop in value by 50% as seen within parts of the US and the EZ and sizeable busts have happened here in the past too.

          There was a hole in Dr Redwood’s statement about ‘top end flats’ which is why I raised the issue of welfarism/money outflow. ‘Top end’isn’t the only part of the housing market where foreign money is being invested – some of it certainly is into welfare landlording, or at least in areas where welfare landlording is prevalent thus putting upward pressure on prices, therefore rents which the Govt is then forced to foot the bill.

          Even if these foreign investors aren’t welfare landlords themselves, when these houses are sold at profit (because of the property frenzy) where does the money go ? These people are also exempt from CGT and if they are from certain EZ countries the chances are they didn’t pay tax to their own governments on the money they bought our houses with, while we bail out their tax-starved countries through the EU/IMF !

          I cannot see how Dr Redwood can celebrate Britain resorting to selling off its housing stock in order to raise revenue. It really is last ditch and desperate. What next ? Our bodies ?

          I hope this explanation is cogent enough. It strikes me that you’re not the first person I’ve heard of who calls themselves a Libertarian and yet becomes highly insulting when someone exercises their right to free speech.

          The Daily Mail featured a rather unattractive character who blogs under the name of Old Holborn. He called himself a libertarian too and yet went around the blogosphere insulting people.

          • JA
            Posted May 9, 2014 at 1:53 am | Permalink

            ‘House prices could drop in value by 50% as seen within parts of the US and the EZ and sizeable busts have happened here in the past too.’

            House valuations are notional until the sale is made. House prices are set at the margins where a relatively small number sales are taking place in relation to the total housing stock.

            As an aside it is madness to project today’s sale prices across the entire housing stock to reach a value for Britain as some do. The entire stock obviously wouldn’t come to sale at the same time but if it did prices would plummet.

            For much of the London market a slight uptick in interest rates would see around 15% of (overextended) mortgagees immediately distressed and the glut of new properties for sale changing the mood entirely. In the past slumps tend to overshoot before buyers weigh back in.

            This is just to explain another reason as to why I think prices are unrealistic.

          • JA
            Posted May 9, 2014 at 2:00 am | Permalink

            Properties @ £150k are nearly 5x average London wages. And you can just imagine what sort of state and area that will be in (with a costly commute to add)

  2. Mark B
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    I think you are comparing apples to oranges here.

    You do not necessarily need to own a car but, you do indeed need to have somewhere to live. Without a fixed abode, you will not be able to get a bank account, a job, or indeed, access public services. I do not need a Merc’ or a Bimmer for any of that !

    Germany sells more than just cars. She has a world class pharmaceuticals and chemicals industry. She sells manufactured goods, from washing machines too trains. Germany puts Germany first. Yes, they are good little Europeans and, they do like the EU but, they know that its is Germany that pays the bills for the EU and will so all to protect themselves and Germany.

    Our political class on the other hand, tend to take a more selfish view. They talk big and tough, make the right noises but, when it comes to it, they are a disaster. Why ? Mostly I think because they do not know or understand industry and business. All they know is, tax and spend !

    Companies, just like people, are seen as tax cows. Look at the hoo-har over Star*ucks and the fact that they, quite legally, were paying taxes on their profits from the UK into another country. To the political class, they were not providing both jobs and services, but depriving them of what they saw as their monies.

    We once had a large, indigenous, car manufacturer. But problems with Unions, bad management, poor products and government handouts (bribes), did it in. Same too with many other industries.

    Building more houses will not solve the problem, not when you have mass-immigration, much of it from the EEA, which we cannot control. It would be far better for the government NOT to get involved. Let the market decide. If house and rental prices go through the roof, this will drive out those who cannot afford it. The market will stall and eventually reset itself. Government interference merely compounds the problem. It creates and artificial bubble. We know why they are doing it, to stimulate the economy ahead of the 2015 GE. This is why this nation fails. The political class just act out of self interest, rather than the national interest, unlike German’s and Germany. This is why we have the problems we have. Too much government that thinks and tells us, that it has the answers to the problems it has just created.

    And there are enough fools who believe in this crap !

    • Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Have you ever canvassed your opinions on the German political class with Germans themselves? You’d raise more than a few smiles.

      I doubt they’d share your largely positive opinion. German levels of taxation are among the highest in the world. German Government tax collectors rigorously use every power at their disposal to collect each Euro which is due to them.

      Neither does Germany have the sort of laissez-faire attitude to their housing market which seems to be your preference. In fact they don’t have a laissez faire attitude to much at all. Most things there are carefully planned and managed.

    • libertarian
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Mark B

      Ever thought about finding out about stuff before you post? Because what you just posted is basically nonsense

      The UK is the 6th largest manufacturer in the world, 2 of the worlds top 10 pharma companies are “British”. Jaguar sold MORE cars in Germany last year than any other overseas car maker. The UK produces and sells as many vehicles as Germany.

      Have you ever been to Germany or know any Germans? 70.7% of people in UK own their own homes, in Germany its 41%.

      Meanwhile the Bundesbank warned back in Feb this year that Germanys house prices were overheating and where overvalued by as much as 25%.

  3. Narrow shouldera
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    A tad fatuous Mr Redwood.

    Many of these super rich earn their money in ways that are not entirely legitimate so those of us complaining can not fairly compete. The joba and taxes on the homes are non existent as many of the owners mothball the property.

    No mention of educating our populace to produce better innovation and technology in agriculture and industry to make UK more competitive to pay our way. Instead of importing masses of unskilled labour which adds cost in benefit and housing (even if only paid to the UK resident not employed because an incomer took the job).

    • Iain Gill
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      and where we do produce “produce better innovation and technology” no mention of trying to actually keep it in this country

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      The first step should be to ensure that council tax is maximised on mothballed properties.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted May 9, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        You need to make capital gains tax on properties payable by foreign companies too.

    • sm
      Posted May 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Restrict foreign non tax resident purchases to new builds only or major refurbishment of uninhabitable homes in the 2nd market.

      Bring in an annual local property tax on non-tax resident owners.

      Regard beneficial ownership or direct ownership as tax anchor and tax worldwide income (maybe at a low rate 20% ) offset by tax paid in other jurisdictions. Interesting to see how many can show tax has been paid elsewhere.

      Enable building supplies & infrastructure to equal population growth or curb population growth (immigration).

      Finally an unused car does not congest roads or generally prevent others from buying an equivalent of the same utility at the same price.

      Our money system and LiblabCon power structure is the problem.

  4. alan jutson,
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    What you say may be true to a degree John.

    The problem some of us have, is that bankers or financial institutions for many years gave out poor advice, stood over poor performing products, but still got paid a fortune.
    Thus it seemed like a closed shop to many of us who could win, lose or draw, but the advisors would win, win, win, no matter how they performed.

    Then the poor customers who had perhaps lost out on their own investments, had to cough up again to keep those very same institutions in business, through either a government bailout or additional fees and charges.

    Good businesses have been closed down due to poor/unsuitable financial products having been sold, or loans and overdrafts being called in at a moments notice, simply because the Banks policies have changed.
    Yes I am fully aware that buyers should beware, these so called customers of the Banks have been advised by so called “financial experts”.

    If Germany started not to care less about the performance of their cars, if the French produced wine that was poor, would customers still willingly pay a premium for their products, or would they eventually go elsewhere.

    Our real problem is that our Government is not patriotic enough in its policies, we seem to want to gold plate everything that comes from the EU and then enforce it to the hilt, whilst others just simply pick and choose what suits them, their people, and their businesses best interests.

    Indeed we almost seem to be in self destruct mode sometimes, as your post suggests.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      The problem is that many of these expensive foreign items are sold on name rather than quality.

      Take for example French cheeses. The more common varieties are now made in the south west of England, from where they are of higher quality and cheaper. No one should be purchasing brie and camembert made in France when the English versions are available in most supermarkets.

    • acorn
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      The trouble with these Germans and French is they can’t do hate, greed and envy like “we” can; whoever “we” are.

      When you are in either of those countries, you can’t mistake that you are in those countries. There is a common bond among the respective peoples which is intangible to an extent, but it is definitely there.

      Everyone is tuned to the same frequency and uses the same Codec. That does not exist in the UK and is not likely to. Particularly as today the Jews and the Muslims are saying that “we” are not labelling our Halal meat properly; there is a one in eight chance “we” are conning them into eating non Halal meat. I would like to apologise on behalf of “we” old WHASP farts, for not being on your frequency and using your Codecs.

      The strength of France and Germany is actually at local government level. There is a large diversity at Departmental level, but strong community; even stronger unanimity when the Departments, collectively, take on a common enemy; usually the President.

      The UK, particularly England isn’t like that. We are a centrally planned and controlled economy, very similar, would you believe, to an old style Soviet State. There is very little local autonomy at English local government level, hence little community. Only five percent of taxes are raised at local government level currently; for instance.

      The French and Germans seem to have much more control over their national governments, because of the strength of their local government / municipality systems. Hence, they feel more in contact with it and, consequentially, closer to the EU system.

      The English feel very distant from their national government and subsequently have little influence on it. They are presented with little choice on the rare occasions they are allowed to vote for anything. Westminster and Whitehall have always seen a powerful local government as a threat to their central control. The Soviets did likewise. The French and the Germans understand that you have to allow local autonomy that can bind together to form a strong nation when you need it.

      PS. The lads who run my favourite Hotel down in Nice tell me that if the French people wanted to leave the EU, it would happen in weeks not years!

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Well selling posh London and financial services is certainly quite a good way but the EU will is starting to kill the latter and the government with new CGT rules and stamp duty at up to 15% (Taxation of high-value UK residential property held
    by certain non-natural persons) and Osborne idiotic random GARR (The General Anti-Abuse Rule) or taxation uncertainty that kills investment.

    If however we halved the the state sector (most does more harm than good anyway) and got taxes, regulation and energy prices down we could compete in far more areas too. Especially with some easy hire and fire, better planning laws and fewer idiotic green subsidies.

    I see the BBC needs a new head of trustees. Which pro EU, green crap, lefty, art graduate, pro HS2, pro bike, PV, wind power & electric cars, pro huge pay and pensions in the BBC, and largely innumerate does Cameron have in mind for the job this time.

    • Richard1
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Let us call on this site for the appointment of Charles Moore, the distinguished journalist, and a constructive critic of the BBC, to replace Lord Patten. Mr Moore has been a national newspaper editor so is eminently qualified, and it is right that the BBC has someone with fresh eyes who can bring a different perspective. Any possible objections?

      • Colin Hart
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Yes. He is a Conservative. So there is absolutely no chance of Cameron approving his appointment.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Well perhaps but Charles is at best on the centre ground even a bit edging to the left to the left I noticed recently and also a convert to RC. Religion might not fit in too well the BBC unless it is Muslim currently I suspect.

        Andrew Neil perhaps another middle of the road person who seems to be able to think on his feet unlike most brain washed “BBC think” staff.

        But after all the pro EU, big state, anti science, green crap, lefty, lovies surely we deserve to have someone soundly on the small government right for a change Someone with sensible views like those of Jamie Whyte, Simon Heffer, Milton Freeman.

        Someone who will get the BBC out of all the dumbed down drivel, soaps and lefty propaganda they currently push at the masses. Above all someone who understand there are loads of good people who would work at the BBC for almost nothing. There is no need for huge salaries or pensions £100K tops for any of them is plenty. Also someone who understand that TV tax money should not just be for the BBC.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          Andreas Whittam Smith wants Paxman I read, well he too is rather of the arty left too, but at least he is fairly bright and must know all that is wrong and rancid at the BBC.

          English at Catz Camb I see.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    This goes to the heart of it.

    The influencers of public opinion – media, government, civil service – are now about 50 years old. Their parents are of the 60s summer of love generation and they themselves have been brought up in the 80s – a time when Britain was reformed, but along egalitarian lines.
    Nowadays there are vast global companies which stretch across the world, making their few bosses a lot of money. People get jealous. We, at the bottom of the heap, read of vast unjust pay-offs at the BBC and in local government. We hear of astronomical salaries for the super rich. We go abroad and see how much richer other people in Norway, Singapore and Dubai are. We half despise the inequality and half get seriously jealous.

    Hence the carping criticism of the very successful. Not healthy. But understandable.

  7. A different Simon
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Regarding your penultimate paragraph :-

    “The UK can carry on taxing the flat owner, whilst the overseas country gets to tax the German car.”

    Yes it can and given few of these overseas buyers will pay income tax here why doesn’t it ?

    Why instead does the UK insist on levying much more damaging types of taxation such as individual income tax ?

    How many of the servants , cleaners , drivers and security staff they indirectly employ are British ?

    “They clamour for higher Stamp duty and Capital Gains to try to tax them out. ”

    Only because they are ignorant of better ways of doing this than a transaction tax – an annual “location value tax” for “exclusive use of the commons” as recommended by Winston Churchill and Henry George amongst others .

  8. David Price
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    “What does not make sense is to be so critical of the ways we currently have of earning overseas revenue”

    If the btl, property development and financial services get so powerful that they influence goverment, damage and inhibit other areas of economic activity then it does make sense to be critical and to mitigate their effect.

    Government should refect the interest and economy of everyone in this country not just a relatively small group of industries and individuals within the M25. Please note I am definitely not arguing in favour of HS2.

  9. Gary
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    you seem concerned that bankers might flee the country if we treat them badly? So what? Better to build industries with high added value, that require plant and capital and that cannot easily just up sticks if the wind changes direction and they don’t get their bonuses for failure. That is what Germany’s luxury car and heavy industries achieve.

    • David Cockburn
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Gary, if you think we should build our own industries with high added value may I suggest you cut the talk and start investing your own time, money and effort in doing just that.

      • David Price
        Posted May 9, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

        I agree with Gary on this point and I am investing my own time, effort and money on projects and promulgating value added technologies. But I am not and will not work with or towards industry/large companies because that means organisations, infrastructure and bureaucracy that are focused on benefits for the bean counters and corporate politicians and the people who do not actually add any value to the endeavour but leech off those do.

        We are at the point where anyone with STEM nous can build technology products without factories and sales bonuses. Finance can be raised without going near a bank or any financial institution. High value technology products will move away from the big corporates to the small start ups.

        If you think the answer is to create new large industries to provide large scale employment and tax income then in the case of high tech you need to think again becasue those who create such technologies now have the means on a large scale to do it independent of the corporate environment and make the sale independent of conventional media.

    • A different Simon
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Gary ,

      Practical hands on knowledge is accumulated and passed on across the generations but it only takes one break for that all to be lost to history .

      It took generations to create the culture of retail banking and the branch manager but they managed to destroy it in only 20 years .

      I know a chap who is about 60 who can operate manual lathes , milling machines etc , rebuild aero engines , select the correct materials , bearings , cutters , gear tooth profiles , heat treatments and surface finishes , understand why components fail and how to get good results with worn out machinery .

      There is an opinion that automation and computer controlled machinery renders that sort of hard won experience redundant . I don’t buy it .

      Trouble is he has nobody to pass that knowledge on to .

      When people like him are gone there will be no one to teach the young .

      • behindthefrogs
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        A very strong argument for more real apprenticeships.

      • alan jutson,
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        A D S

        Simon

        It has happened already, millions of people (potential trainers) already lost, I could do all of which you describe, but got out of engineering in 1982 as I could see the writing on the wall long before that, now fully retired from business altogether.

      • Gary
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        precisely, know-how is hard won and barriers to entry of know how in capital industries are high. You build them over generations. I don’t put financial services in the same class. Banks can be setup quickly, we have some very new banks here. Banks as currently constituted owe their existence entirely to govt and central bank monopoly protection. Left to the free market most would have failed long ago. That is not an industry to build a country on.

        David Cockburn

        what I do with my own money has nothing to do with you, and there is nothing preventing me from investing in any productive public. company. I may already be doing so.

      • bigneil
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        “When people like him are gone there will be no one to teach the young ” -exactly – but on the other side most of the young don’t want to learn anything that will involve manual work and getting dirty. All they see now is a screen to tap away on, people making a living and being famous by getting drunk and swearing on reality tv. Plus when they can see people walk in from abroad, never having paid a penny, but handed everything -why should they work? -only to be taxed while someone who may not even speak a word of our language is handed some of their taxes – purely for managing to get here? My back is now so worn after 45 years of hard manual work that I can’t walk more than 50yd without stopping. I get nothing from the state, not a penny, living on my works pension. I can go into Sheffield and see many hundreds in a rundown area – but all happy with their free for nothing life, they get more in benefits than I ever could, handed to them by our leaders. etc ed

      • David Price
        Posted May 9, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

        Simon,
        If he wants to pass that knowledge on then see if there is a hackspace/makerspace nearby he can get involved with, these people do this kind of stuff for the love of learning and making.

        http://www.hackspace.org.uk/view/Main_Page

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    So Miliband thinks he is much more intellectually self confident than Cameron. With people like Cameron, Miliband and Balls all coming out of Oxford PPE with so little understanding of economics one wonders what on earth they teach there in economics. Should Oxford get any state money to teach this “economics” or is it just that these three did not follow the lectures properly? Are the lecturers like Ed’s Dad perhaps.

    The problem with Cameron is surely his over confidence but totally misplaces, when he clearly has a totally defective compass on most issues.

    Better start selling my UK assets before Cameron’s idiotic rent act comes it I suppose all thanks to Cameron’s incompetence, ratting, 299 tax increases and his election throwing.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I see Cameron is showing just how misguided, P.C. lefty, “Harriet Harman think” he actually is. In PM questions yesterday he suggested there was a problem with girls taking up Physics. I am all in favour of more people studying maths, physics, engineering and even some sensible economics (and of any genders or ethnic groups as may choose to). But what exactly is Cameron going to do about females not wanting to study Physics? Is he suggesting some sinister genetic engineering or brain washing for females perhaps?

      Clearly they sensibly have the same aversion to Chess in the main too.

      We see what selecting people on tokenism rather than ability achieves with so many silly tokens in the House of Lords and the recent jailing of the part time Judge Constance Briscoe.

      The best way to get more in general would be to cut funding for hobby and silly subjects at universities and increase it for the more solid or practical ones.

      There is actually a large problem with more women (as we now have) training to be Vets, Lawyers, the military, Pharmacy and Doctors as they tend to work part time or often give up work early, thus wasting all the paid training given to them and not repaying the loans. They therefore cost more to train than men per useful work output. They live longer and so cost more in pensions.

      Reply Many women provide excellent professional services and many work long hours. These generalisations are misleading and unpleasant.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        I do not think they are “unpleasant” at all. I think woman are in general rather sensible in the choices they make with work life balance. These are merely statement of fact. The World is as it is and most girls & women do not seem to choose to study physics, do tend to live longer than men, do tend to be a lower car insurance risk and do tend to take more career breaks and more part time work. They thus cost more to train relative to the work return delivered – like it on not it is true.

        Of course many women provide excellent service and work full time until they are 90+ but that is not the average.

        These are just simple statistics and facts, just look at the statistics. How can a true statement of fact be “unpleasant”. What is unpleasant is to charge woman more to insure there car due to gender nonsense insurance laws from Cameron.

        It is “unpleasant” to say women live longer than men, tend to be less tall and tend to prefer certain jobs to others? Not all of them of course, but on balance.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted May 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        In a mixed workforce of men and women it is often true on average that the women will volunteer to work away from home less often, work weekends less often, work crazy long hours less often. Sure there are exceptions, but averaged over many staff these trends are often true. What is objectionable is HR departments trying to impose equal pay increments, bonus payments, and promotions, across both sexes with this in mind. The extra experience the men gain because of these differences does show after a while. It is the politically correct, legally enforced, equality rammed down everyones throats when these differences are there for all to see which is unpleasant. While at the same time other discrimination, such as against those with working class accents, is routine and cannot be challenged in an employment tribunal case etc. We either have equality based on merit for all or we don’t. At the moment we don’t, and we have all sorts of political correctness which prevents people speaking these obvious truths.

  11. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    “….you have to sell more to the rich, as they have the money to employ people” – indeed.

    It would also help the balance of payments if more of what is consumed in the UK was made in the UK, which also a source of employment. And, of course, those running successful companies have money to spend on themselves, which is yet more employment.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Indeed but competing by making more in the UK is rather hard. We have expensive religion energy, absurd labour laws, poor schools, expensive houses, slow planning, poor legal system and you have to carry a bloated incompetent government too – of nearly 50% of GDP. With Miliband’s semi Marxism on the way too.

      • A different Simon
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

        “We have expensive religion energy”

        Can’t Cameron get the greentards to pray harder to their god gaia ?

  12. Richard1
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Yes we constantly hear from all sides that we need to ‘rebalance’ the economy. Why? Like other successful economies the UK needs to specialize in what it is competitive at doing. Then we can exchange the proceeds of that successful specialization for other things we want. The financial and other service industries is one area. Its excellent for us that billionaires would rather buy enormously expensive houses in London rather than say Frankfurt. We provide excellent services then we can afford nice wine and cars from France and Germany, we don’t ‘need’ to produce our own. Politicians, including many Conservatives, should stop bashing the globally competitive parts of our economy. That does not mean subsidy of course. One of the most pernicious effects of the disasterous Labour bank bailout is it has enabled leftists to claim the banking sector is only competitive because its subsidized. Perhaps that why they did it? I can’t think of any good reason.

    • MickC
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      But the banking sector is subsidised isn’t it?

      And the Conservative party agreed with the bailout, and agrees with the continued impoverishment of the people and the enrichment of the financial sector.

      The truth is that the supposed financial experts aren’t-and apparently need subsidising.

      The next logical step is to ask why, if the taxpayer is supporting the “industry”, the taxpayer shouldn’t own/control it?

      And no, I’m not a Leftist. But if I pay for something, I see no reason why I shouldn’t have a say over it-thats called capitalism.

      • Richard1
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        Yes unfortunately you are right. The banking sector benefits from a number of subsidies including subsidised funding if it finds the markets closed, implicit guarantees from the state of its liabilities and an ability without being judged insolvent to run an excessively leveraged capital structure. It would be much better if banks were better capitalised and if the govt, instead of pumping in taxpayers’ money had forced their restructuring at the expense of shareholders and creditors.

        However this is used by leftists – in spite of the fact it was a Labour govt which did the absurd bailout – to tar the whole financial services industry. The Labour Party, including in particular Miliband, likes to denigrate ‘bankers’ so as to deride the entire sector. Leftists who post on this site do the same, also for ‘corportations’ etc. This kind of collective denigration is no better than racism.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Financial experts do seem to have a habit of producing lower returns for clients (after their fees) than a few darts thrown at random in a copy of the FT.

        It reminds me of a cartoon:- Client to “expert” – Do you think I should buy more of these share or sell some? In a thought bubble “Well I do not care the commission is just the same either way”.

  13. J M
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    At the end of the day, isn’t the cynical calculation this: we would rather have these very high earners here living and spending and paying whatever tax they do rather than not here, in which case we would have none of their money.

    The complaint about property is the distorting effect that they have on the market as a whole. Whether this is right I do not know, but the perception is that they are dragging up the prices for everyone. There is a real problem in London in that those upon whom the city depends to function cannot afford to live in the city. This has to be addressed somehow. Perhaps we should introduce a residency requirement?

  14. David Cockburn
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    We have a history of destroying those industries on which we depend to earn our way in the world. Ships, cotton, woolens, motorbikes, airplanes; all destroyed. We are now working on Pharmaceuticals after the animal rights crowd tried and eventually failed to destroy it as a business. Financial services is next. I wonder what we can do about legal services?

    • Colin
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      “I wonder what we can do about legal services?”

      Oh believe me, they’re already working on destroying the legal professions – the aim seems to be to starve criminal and family lawyers out of existence, replacing them with state employees, and to turn commercial law firms into a commoditized and deprofessionalized “legal services industry” owned by foreign corporations.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Not many legal services actually generate money for the UK they tend to be just arguing over the ownership of money and taking often very large cut thus making both parties (and the population) on average worse off.

  15. Roger Goodacre
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    The same sort of attitudes apply towards tourism, a sector that accounts for 4.4% of total exports and is the third largest employer in the UK, despite shortsighted Government policies that actively depress demand.

    Foreign visitors spent nearly £33bn in this country in 2013 (ONS). Yet since 2007 the Government has raised the rate of APD by some 360%, and imposes such high visa processing charges that visitors from high-spending markets, not surprisingly, are heading to France and other competitor destinations with more sympathetic policies.

    A short stay visa costs £80 compared with £53 for a Schengen visa, which has to be added to the cost of APD. VAT on accommodation is 20% compared with an average rate of 10.5% in all European countries. The result is that the UK is ranked 138th out of 140 countries for price competitiveness (WEF).

    The potential for growth is enormous, yet trying to get Government or the Treasury to take tourism seriously – the budget for marketing Britain was cut by 20% in the run-up to the Olympics – is like pulling hen’s teeth.

    • sjb
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      I posted about the visa ‘own goal’ about a year ago[1], Roger, so disappointed matters do not appear to have improved.

      Do you know of any authoritative statistics about tourists in relation to the visas? E.g. how many applied for both and how many would have come to the UK had it been in the Schengen zone? Also, how much being able to use the same currency when travelling in Schengen member states was a factor in their decision?

      [1] http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2013/05/20/a-new-relationship-with-the-eu-2/#comment-194693

  16. Andy
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    What is the evidence that we have, on net, been selling off our assets over recent years?

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Well the plan of the political class is to continue to flood the country with cheap labour in the form of immigrants, outsource many of our jobs to cheaper economies, try selling our financial services to the growing economies of the world, shut down our manufacturing by imposing expensive electricity and the most expensive anti-pollution gear on the planet, stoke ever higher house prices, minimise the costs of the Brits displaced from the labour market by moving them into redundant housing miles from any jobs market which should have been abandoned years ago, give significant tax perks to wealthy foreigners, give our best intellectual property away to competitor nations, run an ever bigger public sector in which the citizens have no say whatsoever about their own life, continue to borrow massively and give large amounts away as supposed “aid” to foreign dictators, give a very biased “equality” to everyone except those with white skin and working class accents who can be discriminated against routinely with no legal comeback whatsoever, and sign ever more of our national decision making away to mandarins in Brussels.
    You were telling is recently how well it was all going?

  18. Richard1
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Many voices for protectionism are being heard on the BBC now. Yesterday a Cambridge professor said he could ‘see no advantages to Pfizer or AZ for a merger’. Who is he to say – why is he better able to judge than the owners or managers of the companies? He said the ownership of a company like AZ should not be left to the ‘whims of shareholders’? Should the ownership of this gent’s house be left to his whim or should a committee decide who he can sell it to? He said a takeover of AZ by Pfizer would lead to British jobs in science disappearing. Why? Perhaps there will be more jobs than there otherwise would have been, it depends on whether the new company finds the UK a competitive place to employ people. None of this was of course questioned or challenged by the BBC’s interviewer.

    The one correct thing the Prof did point out is that these days many big pharma Cos like Pfizer in-source R&D by buying small biotech companies. That is of course very good news for British science and for this Prof’s students. it also means that even if Pfizer terminated every British employee of AZ – a highly unlikely event – new jobs would most likely appear if these people are globally competitive, in new companies.

  19. Michael James
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Germany’s auto industry isn’t subsidised by being too big to fail. And perhaps its directors actually earn their bonuses.

  20. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I have to say that my BMW’s were simply the best. 1st class simple/reliable engineering and well dressed (5 series). They did not change there design completely/annually and must have made a fortune on a near fixed baseline. What got me to BMW was via 3 VWs having witnessed the strikes/rust buckets built by British car manufacturers. BMW got here finally and Rover finished them off fairly quickly – that confirmed my original avoidance of UK motors. The abuse on the road was quite alarming during that time.

    So, selling (anything) to foreigners has to continue and perhaps one day we might reverse it? That would hopefully be before the EU/USA kill our soft services – some hopes. There again I always believed that London was generally a major seed bed of much global criminal activity….so ?

    Never did like Merc after a German Phd told them their interiors were too much like a fighter aircraft cockpit. And they changed the cockpits to something terribly droll.

    No surprise then that we need the support of foreign companies/money.

    Reply I have only bought UK made cars for the last 30 years and have had some very good vehicles with some excellent technology. Much of the pioneering Formula 1 work is done in the UK, and several of the leading world manufacturers have chosen to have engineering and design centres here.

    • Ex-expat Colin
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Its over the last 20 odd years that the UK motor industry got a good kicking I think, having kicked itself forever – almost. Much of it is assembly now? I was talking 1963 thru 1990. F1 came to my former employer QinetiQ, and the story of that company is not good at all. However, it has picked up a lot because the work force is good…the ones that research/produce that is!

      I have a distinct problem with technology in cars apart from the reasoning for it and cost. That is that garage/franchise maintenance cannot handle it well. Similar to the washing machine and green boiler guesswork. The latter thanks to a former top member of the Office of Deputy Prime Minister.

  21. The PrangWizard
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    What is your preferred form of inward investment? Is it a foreign company buying one of ours? Or is it their taking a lease on a piece of land, and building a factory? Which indicates the most honest intent?

  22. MickC
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Can you give a source for figures supporting the proposition that the City is a huge earner abroad?

    The vast majority of British people regard the City as a cabal of spivs at best, and utter crooks at worst. This is not surprising in view of the mis-selling, poorly performing “products”, rigging of markets, and huge salaries and bonuses paid to the people who orchestrate this.

    In the meantime the financial institutions are being supported and enriched by the huge interest rates they charge borrowers whilst paying savers SFA. The few are being enriched at the expense of the many. More than a few of the many are/were Conservative voters.

    The City is about as popular as Trade Unions were in the late ’70s. To ignore this fact will only convince voters that the Conservative party is for the rich and crooked-not the ordinary person.

    For those old enough to remember, the squeeze of the early ’80s killed off many good SMEs, and Thatcher only won the ’83 election because of the Falklands. Possibly that is why Dave wants another war. But there are no vital UK interests under threat, so any war will not have popular support. Getting the support of ordinary people is the key to winning the election-and Dave can’t.

    Lauding the City is a mistake-best not do it.

    Reply There are plenty of honest and decent people working in financial services and banking, providing services we all need. Mrs Thatcher won the 1983 election on economic policy as well as the Falklands, and went on to win in 1987 on economic policy when there had been no war.

    • MickC
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      The question I asked was not rhetorical-I am interested in the actual figures, but cannot find an accurate source.

      Again, I do not deny that there are many honest people in the finance industry. There were (and are) many good Trade Unionists who wish to look after the interests of their members whilst not damaging the national interest – Sid Weighell was one such.

      However, perception is the key. The City is widely despised, rightly or wrongly- probably rightly because nobody has been held to account, or will be.

      As I recall, the Falklands factor was the key to the victory in the ’83 election, ably helped by Labour’s total mishandling of the matter and their unqualified support of the unions.

      The economic policies were accepted at the start of Thatcher’s term but by the start of the Falklands War were causing unforeseen and unwanted damage to good businesses. This was probably due to the rise in the pound (North Sea Oil factor, as well as colossal interest rates).

      Indeed Thatcher won ’87 on the economic policies of Nigel Lawson, -before he lost the plot.

      Proper Conservative policies win elections- quelle surprise!

  23. forthurst
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    “In a way the UK product is shrewder than the German. Whereas the German car, once exported, is serviced and maintained in a foreign country, the UK flat stays here…”

    In another way it is not because there is no theoretical limit to the number of high priced vehicles that German car manufacturers can produced which, after export, do not occupy Deutsch Lebenstraum, whereas foreign-owned properties in London occupy our living space which as far as I’m aware suffers from a siginificant geographical limitation.

    As to the financial services industry, assisting ‘oligarchs’ to sequester the proceeds of their crimes in British overseas territories, no doubt is a nice little earner which does not harm us. However, when most of the major banks are foreign owned and ‘earn’ income from flogging off British companies, they most certainly do.

  24. Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t believe a country can survive with just service industries, whether it is banking, tourism or anything else. Such business can quickly go elsewhere. Similarly, selling property to the foreign olieogarchs has its limits, you either run out of olieogarchs or property. I consider it wrong to allow foreign businesses to take over companies in this country, it’s not too bad with service industries, like, say, Heathrow; it can’t be moved by its Spanish owners to Madrid!
    But allowing AstraZenica to be sold would be a mistake. The takeover of Cadburys has shown that its business can easily be moved abroad is it is to the benefit of its foreign owners, and all this country then has is a one-off payment.
    Certainly, I believe we should not allow a major pharmaceutical company to be sold to foreign owners as it is surely essential to this country should the threatened pandemic ever occur. The interests of our population must come first.
    It is sales of businesses like this which give the major investors such as insurance companies and pension funds a bad name as it can appear they are selling merely for a short term profit and increased bonuses.
    Incidentally, at the outbreak of WW2, one of the first actions taken by the “Custodian of Enemy Property” was to secure the assets of the Germany Bayer Company in the UK in order to ensure the continued supply of their pharmaceutical products, including the humble asprin. We should perhaps learn from the past.

  25. Bert Young
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The answer to the dilemma you raise is to promote and encourage enterprise . The Germans are , by and large , disciplined and hard working ; this consistency has been the bed rock of their economy ( plus the fact that the Marshall Plan virtually re-created their industry post war ! ). Brits react to lower taxes and de-restrictions , we seem to thrive when opportunity abounds and when we can control our own affairs . The mood afoot at the moment is to restore our dignity and independence ; freeing ourselves from the tentacles of Brussels would have a kick-start effect on our mentality and initiative . If one adds to this mix our ingredient of creativity and technical innovation , we would be once again a leading powerhouse in the world . It needs positive and respected leadership to start things off , sadly in this respect , drastic change is required .

    • Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      “plus the fact that the Marshall Plan virtually re-created their {the German} industry post war ! ”

      Nearly everyone thinks this. It’s just another of those myths!

      The Marshal plan was a US aid package provided to Europe. The UK received more than twice as much as West Germany. France received 60% more.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

      • zorro
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but don’t forget, it’s how the funds were used for reinvestment which counts and that’s where the Germans spent wisely….. Oh, and please don’t forget the very important effect of the London Agreement on German External Debts in 1953 which to all intents and purposes minimized their debt payments until reunification….. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agreement_on_German_External_Debts

        zorro

  26. Robert Taggart
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Agreed, Johnny, but…
    It would help if we also built affordable housing in currently unaffordable areas – for us natives.
    It would help if ‘our’ banks would provide financial incentives – decent rates of interest – on our current accounts.
    Never mind charity – business begins at home !

    • J A
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Did you ask Dr Redwood if he likes being called Johnny ?

      • Robert Taggart
        Posted May 8, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        Nope, but, dear Johnny appears to take no offense – none being intended.
        OK ? JA !

        Reply Johnny is not my name but I have been called worse things.

        • Robert Taggart
          Posted May 9, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          Indeed.
          Methinks you be more ‘down to Earth’ than some would have us believe !

  27. David Hope
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Surely a large part of the growth in both finance and house prices is the result of monetary activism both here and abroad.

    It doesn’t necessarily make us richer, as in both cases we see a level of inflation and inflation picks winners and losers. For example, a german car company doing well does no damage to ordinary people in german, quite the reverse. But, higher house prices will impact ordinary people in the south east (let us not forget people need homes to live in which are low in supply right now too as other posters point out).

    With finance, it is a good thing when foreign money goes through banks in the city and we get our share. But the fact it takes its share is the point, most financial products are about taking a share of our money – this doesn’t make us richer. Everyone having to be insured against 20 things now due to regulation, or having to take out all sorts of hedges because of the current financial system, or low rate policy greatly increasing the available leverage to those with assets – this might make one sector or another look like they are doing very well but it isn’t increasing total wealth

  28. Colin Hart
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Don’t be fooled by the Germans. Angela Merkel has been able to keep the Greens happy and abandon nuclear power because Germany has vast reserves of Brown Coal which will keep their electricity generators humming long after the lights have gone out over here. Not so very green I think.

  29. lojolondon
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    John, you are 100% correct. I think the worst part is that some ENGLISH people are the biggest complainers – and specifically those who’s income derives from taxes, the Biased BBC for example, never misses a chance to have a dig at ‘Bankers’ and ‘wealthy landlords’, without considering that those are the people who pay them £6Billion a year to be criticised – talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

  30. Posted May 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    “One of the hard truths of lfie that socialists do not like is you have to sell more to the rich, as they have the money to employ people.” ??

    This is an odd thing to say. In my business I know have to sell things to those who have the money to buy them. I really don’t know, nor do I ask, if they actually employ anyone. They employ people by spending their money. Then they contribute to my income and everyone else in the business. So it is the spenders who effectively employ people, not necessarily the very wealthy. If I’m selling shoes, or whatever, I know I’m not going to sell ten times as many shoes to those who earn £300k pa as I sell to those who earn £30k pa

    I know I’m probably not going to sell any shoes at all to someone with an income of only £5k pa. They’ll buy second hand shoes from a charity shop or maybe even steal them from my shop!

    If governments give a tax concession to the very wealthy, they are unlikely to go out to buy a pair of shoes, or decide to eat out at a restaurant, go down to the pub for a pint, by a new car or whatever, but if government get that money into the hands of the less affluent then that is exactly what they will do.

    So the idea that business wants money concentrated into fewer and fewer hands is quite wrong. Business owners want everyone to have the necessary spending power to buy what the economy can produce.

    Reply: Yes of course my comment about employing people was general as you suggest – a rich person employs car workers to make him a new car etc. The point I am making about western countries is they tend to sell much more to the rich than to the rest as they go in for high priced brands and items which the rich can afford. Mr Average does not buy a new Porsche or a bottle of Lafite, nor a flat in Mayfair.

  31. outsider
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, the short answer to your question how can the UK earn its living is by cutting our living standards, if not absolutely then in relation to our competitors. That is the only short-term answer, however it is achieved. No party is going to go to the polls promising higher taxes, lower government spending, higher interest rates and a further squeeze on consumer spending. So stagnant living standards will instead be the long-term solution, brought about gradually through market forces.
    Dating back to Margaret Thatcher’s government the consensus political mantra has been that the trade deficit does not matter so long as it can easily be financed.
    For at least the past 25 years, your party, like the others, has been hostile to big business, as demonstrated by actions against GEC, British Gas, British Telecom, National Power, major banks, life assurance companies and now energy suppliers. All governments and parties has put domestic competition ahead of the competitiveness and strength of our productive sector.
    Politicians of all parties have paid only lip-service to productivity and value added per hour and prioritised growth in GDP, achieved increasingly by importing cheap labour, especially in the public sector. GDP is what governments can tax and spend, so that is all politicians (and to be fair most economists) care about.
    Nothing has changed. Nor will it change in the next decade.
    It would of course be possible to rebuild a competitive UK economy (even within the EU) in which case the trade balance would be a key indicator of success. But it would take a complete rethink of policy that could inspire voters to back such a generation-long programme. I do not see the slightest sign that either the present or the coming generation of politicians have any such ideas.
    From the rather sad, resigned tone of your typically well-reasoned posts of the past few days, I deduce that you accept either that nothing can or nothing will be done even if, quite understandably, you cannot bring yourself to say so.

    • outsider
      Posted May 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      PS. In anti-business actions, I forgot the drastic action against Britain’s five? big brewing combines by Margaret Thatcher’s government. Thanks to your hostile policy, all these companies have disappeared (though the corporate name Whitbread remains in other businesses) and the UK is now a big importer of beer.

  32. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, JR, some more nonsense: members of the EU Parliament pretending that elections to the EU Parliament are also de facto elections for the next President of the EU Commission:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/07/uk-may-have-no-say-eu-top-job

    “UK may have no say on EU top job, frontrunner warns”

    “Jean-Claude Juncker says Tory decision to leave centre-right bloc means British voters cannot vote for him to lead European commission.”

    Why is our government tolerating this?

  33. Posted May 9, 2014 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    The idea that the UK needs to sell off its fundamental assets to earn a living is quite wrong IMO. An asset is an item on a balance sheet. So if I own a house I should include its value on my own personal balance sheet. I could sell the house then the balance sheet would contain cash rather than the value of the house. Am I any better off? No of course not. True, I could live off that cash rather than working for a living, but if I do that, I definitely end up worse off.

    Would it make sense to sell off the Isle of Wight, for example, if the UK government were to receive a sufficiently attractive offer and live off the proceeds for a while? I would say definitely not. It would be just like anyone of us selling a house and living off the proceeds of that. In the end it makes us worse off .

    So, if the government wants the UK to work for a living rather than live off asset sales it needs to get everyone doing just that. ie working for a living. Get back to the principle that there should be jobs for all and impose laws to stop valuable properties standing empty when there are residents of the city living, homeless, on the streets nearby.

    Reply : NO-one is suggesting selling off an area of the UK! The government I am pleased to say could not sell off the Isle of Wight. Only the combined efforts of all the existing landowners there could do that.
    Your legislative proposals cannot work. UK people would not wish to live under a law which banned them from selling their homes to foreigners if they wish. How would you define an empty house? How can you police how often people use their homes. Are you proposing that we all have to prove we have spent so many hours a week or a year in them to be able to carry on owning them?

    • Posted May 9, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Many countries have residency requirements on the ownership of property. How can it be considered unreasonable to require that ownership of UK land and property should be at least restricted to UK residents? Some would say UK citizens.

      There is much discussion about the level of immigration into the UK on this blog. One reason, and a valid reason, for wishing to restrict immigration is based on already insufficient housing available in the UK. So, increased numbers would displace long time UK residents and price them out of the market.

      So, if we accept that argument, how can we agree to sell the housing stock we do have to those who don’t even want to live here, but rather want to use land and property purely for investment purposes, and often using funds from very dubious and untaxed sources?

      Reply Because some of those people who want to buy UK property invest and create a lot of jobs in the UK

  34. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 9, 2014 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Germany has worked long and hard to thwart EC environmental rules being applied to German motor cars. The EU is a Franco-German racket; there isn’t a level playing field in Europe (a silent toast to the late Nick Ridley RIP).

    London’s White British population is down to 45% (2011 Census) and falling. The remaining 55% ain’t all rich – and they are no longer restricted to inner London.

    I once bought a bottle of perfectly palatable red plonk in a restaurant in the back streets of Bordeau for one franc. I knew the place was good value for money because several French workers in their dongarees and berets were dining there. It was good to be young.

    Enough reminiscing. Mr Redwood’s main message is bang on.

    Change of topic. I just watched a TV programme entitled ‘Don’t take away my benefits’ about the application of the benefits cap in Brent, London. Single mothers with no job were finding it hard to live in London (Where’s the father? What’s it got in its pocketses?) So too were (word left out ed) couples with between 5 and 9 children and an income of £150 a week. Quelle surprise. What contribution to solving this problem (are some religious leaders making?)? Preaching against birth control, that’s what.

    • alan jutson,
      Posted May 9, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Lindsay

      Yes I was up late and viewed it as well.

      Interesting that the benefits cap did not seem to apply if you work 16 hours a week.!
      Is this correct John ?

      I also had as many questions as you, all the recipients simply thought they were entitled to a house and someone else would pay, they were not interested in who paid, just as long as somebody else did.
      The reason:
      Someone else has always paid !

      This programme should have been on prime time TV.

      I think the producer had the idea it would attack the Benefits cap, but in effect it just solidified the argument for one.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted May 9, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Once again, Ed, there is nothing wrong and nothing illegal in naming the particular religion and the particular religious leader. In any event, your readers can probably guess.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
    Published and promoted by Thomas Puddy for John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU
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