Great sporting events


I have dared to write a couple of pieces this summer on sporting topics. Critics have said it is because I belong to the bread and circuses school of politics and wish to take people’s minds off the more important things. No serious regular reader of this blog could endorse that attack. This blog has never ducked the difficult issues of migration, house prices, EU membership or living standards, but I do not wish to write about the same things all the time.

I write about great sporting events occasionally because I like others enjoy some of them. I also write about them because they tell us something about leadership, brand promotion and the way the UK can earn its living in a very competitive world. Today I wish to examine the Wimbledon model of economic development.

England takes something which is essentially English, rooted in our past and our traditions, and turns it into a global event attracting the talent of the world. Wimbledon is a major world tennis tournament, based on English lawn tennis with grass courts, white shorts and dresses and strawberry teas, at a time when the rest of the world plays on hard surfaces with brightly coloured sponsored clothes and burgers. The centre has embraced some modern technology for line calls, with a retractable roof for all weather matches and greatly enhanced retail and restaurant facilities.

Henley is an even more dramatic example. There the technology has been frozen along with much of the dress code in the Edwardian era. The manual wooden board shows you where the racing boats have got to. There is no concession to the modern world with no large screens or  tv pictures. Ladies need to wear  skirts below the knee and gentlemen ties and jackets even on the days when the temperature reaches 80 degrees F. Meanwhile the standards of catering, shopping and crowd handling have been consistently improved over the years.

At Lord’s, the world home of cricket, the ancient pavilion and Long Room have been kept as the symbols of past glories. Meanwhile a stunning array of new technology allows play under lights, quick recovery of the outfield after rain, and great protection of the playing square in all weathers. Cameras and replays allow better umpiring decisions. New stands and a media centre cater for more spectators and better communications to a large worldwide tv audience.

These are things England is good at. There is spin off in sales of cricket bats, tennis balls and rowing equipment worldwide. The festival competitions bring large numbers of competitors and supporters to our country to spend on food, lodging and much else. The investment in these brands and the enhancement of the offers is an important part of modern Britain. The English green lawn is a source of inspiration for a series of summer sports that amuse the world.  The green lawns of Henley stretch down to the riverside. The green lawns of Lord’s and Wimbledon are analysed the world over by sporting coaches, commentators and players . They all need to know how a ball will bounce or turn on that special grass. Each of these festivals has found that happy balance of old and new, rules and freedoms, which enable them to sell all their tickets easily at good prices and to preside over events which delight many.  Tomorrow I will consider how we can stretch these brands and learn from their success.

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  1. ian wragg
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Morning John.
    Yes I am one who see’s football as the equivalent of the Roman bread and circuses. On this “Super Saturday” weekend of sport we can all forget the realities of life.
    Aircraft Carriers with no aircraft.
    £11 billion wasted on foreign aid.
    £55 billion a day to prop up the corrupt EUSSR.
    £60 billion for a posh vanity HS2 project.
    Our boys being killed in Afghanistan in a pointless war with not a single politician wounded.
    The national debt increasing at a phenomenal rate and no real spending cuts only to our armed forces.
    and there is more but who cares. Today whilst I work a 12 hour shift in the real productive economy I can rest assured that the 52% tax the government will take will help the 1,000 immigrants that arrive today.
    Things have to change John and I can’t see it happening peacefully.
    Enjoy the sport.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Pretty good summary.

      We also have the 50% over paid/pensioned state sector going on strike for even more pay in a few days time.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic – and those outside the state sector have been undercut by imported, unskilled labour subsidised by our own government.

        Your true colour is not your dislike of public services but those of those who work within them. Your bias towards cars, for instance.

        – They remain idle for most of the time
        – where they are not carrying a passenger or a load they can be considered ’empty’ for 50% of the time (just as you accuse public transport)

        And now I’d like to add something else to counter your bias. What is the second biggest investment to a house ? That’s right. A car.

        A car is a great source of indebtedness in the UK and seeing as we own no large manufacturer is a great addition to our economic woes in terms of our trade deficit.

        But you’re alright, Jack – and clearly have a lot of time to waste on this site with your banal, scratched record, utterances (pot calling kettle here.) Like most Tories you talk the talk about reward for effort but like to keep your boot on the worker’s neck and will be happy if taxpayer subsidy is used to do it.

        Any form of subsidy should be anathema to a Tory. But not when it comes to undercutting people, it seems.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          I do not receive any subsidies just tax bills, what are you on about?

          A parked and not being used is not the same as nearly empty buses cruising about using their large and usually dirty engines, taking indirect routes, needing staff and stopping every few yards to block the road. Cars are very cheap anyway £5K new (could be less without 20% vat) and good second hand ones can be less than £1000. A Boris bus (an appalling design) seems to cost about £350K just for a 4 years deal. Perhaps over £5 depreciation per hour on the road and that is without fuel, insurance or staff. Occupancy perhaps as low as 6-10 on average over the whole day. Just do the sums.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            Name a 5k new car. You cannot and the 6k ones are pretty much beyond the pale. Buying second hand better quality model for this would be better, but it would be a bit long in the tooth one way or another leading to maintenance costs. A 1000k is not far from the scrapyard and not for serious journeys. Large bills are in the post for this outdated heap for sure. I speak from experience. Tootling around your local area maybe it would be OK for a while.
            Now what if you are unable to drive or afford a car. Iask you again how is this person supposed to travel? By Taxi is your only answer and in some cases this may well be for the best and cheaper than buying a car, but what if you need to travel every day into a city? Do tell us why coach and bus companies bother?
            Mindless I’m alight Jack deluded nonsense as Anonymous says. When challenged you just ignore the facts believing you own them.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

            I’ll just add I have bought a bike for 1k one penny below the governments max subsidy scheme I’m told, though I am not claiming anything on this. A car for a ‘k’. Lots of tax and tax on bills on that one lifelogic, so well done. False economy. I will be powering my bike with finest steak and salmon with glee!

  2. ian wragg
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Should read £55 million. Early morning typo.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Indeed these sporting events, Englishness (& Scottishness), Oxford, Cambridge, the public schools, the Royal Family and English Style are perhaps some of the few competitive advantages we have left.

    What does JR think of the Canadian Bank of England Governor Mark Carney replacing the annual summer cricket match with rounders – because it’s more ‘inclusive’. He apparently wanted event to include more women and so chose rounders instead.

    My daughter seems quite good at Cricket what is the problem with Cricket? Perhaps Croquet too for those less energetically disposed?

    I see Bernard Jenkins MP (0n Questiontime) has fallen for the absurdly daft Boris Airport Plan, then building lots of new houses on Heathrow. Attempting to move a whole industry and countless support industires to the Thames estuary. Which according to the green loons will be under water anyway very soon. Heathwick is far cheaper solution and far, far better too.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: “What does JR think of the Canadian Bank of England Governor Mark Carney replacing the annual summer cricket match with rounders – because it’s more ‘inclusive’. He apparently wanted event to include more women and so chose rounders instead.”

      Perhaps he wanted himself to be included, after all North America doesn’t really play Cricket in the same way as the UK doesn’t really play Baseball, thus Stoolball (or indeed its close relation Rounders) is a good compromise and apparently more “English” than Cricket! Both rounders and cricket having likely developed from the game of Stoolball.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        Stool ball does not sound very pleasant.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

          @Lifelogic: “Stool ball does not sound very pleasant.

          …and cricket is, or baseball for that matter, how fast/hard do you think a ball can be thrown under-arm?!

    • Iain Gill
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Re “the public schools” the bias in the system here from top to bottom for public schools is one of the biggest competitive disadvantages this country has. Dim children with rich parents being pushed ahead of bright kids with ordinary parents does none of us any favours. Work in the USA and nobody cares less where you went to school, here it remains a dominant question throughout your life. The corrupt way the public school output select and promote each other really does produce sub optimal business (and political, and public sector)leadership which would be a lot better if proper meritocracies were allowed.

      • Hope
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        Rubbish. The US has better schools than here and actually use local tax to provide them. Here grammar schools are not introduced for political reasons not educational ones. Also people cannot improve themselves as the y used to be able because affordable and social housing is being forced upon every area. You would not get that in the US. Low tax and incentives to improve ones self. The same dopy idea is now being promoted by Cable and Willets to dumb down universities.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

          I have worked in the USA, I have seen first hand what goes on.

          I think you are wrong, and are confusing many issues.

          For instance I worked in a big multi national team in the USA made up of mainly Brits, and Americans. The Brits were a mix of public school and state school. Once in the USA the ex-state school pupils were promoted quickly way ahead of their public school equivalents on pure talent, the British management (mainly public school) couldn’t believe it and tied to stop it. In the USA talent really does get a chance.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        True lots of dopey chaps go to good public schools end up at say Durham or somewhere and later become pleasant but dopey lawyers etc, but so what. Anyway we need some bright builders, plumbers and car mechanics from state schools far more than these lawyers.

        In general people are either clever or they are not I find. School and Universities may change accents, give you a few tools, a bit of polish, a piece of paper and better/richer contacts or wife/husband perhaps.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

          Its the contacts, and prejudice of the hiring managers that gives public school output an edge in this country. Its just discrimination no better than racism or sexism in my view, certainly not based on any scientific analysis of the competitive strengths and weaknesses.

        • Hope
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

          I totally agree that there should be a spectrum of people in all lines of work and some of our most successful people come from backgrounds without the old School boy net work and PPE from Oxbridge. Nevertheless everyone could be given the opportunity to better themselves by a better education and the comprehensive system has overwhelmingly demonstrated it does not worked no matter how much money has been thrown at it. Including it being the centre policy from the Blair 1997onwards. Even Prince Charles seemed to get this right although Blunkett would not listen to him. Again, ideological reasons not educational ones.

          If the government is going to force children to stay in education past 16 they could at least make it worthwhile by improving the standards.

    • Bryan
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      And when it is under water it is readily convertible for Flying Boats which, according to the green-eyed brigade, will be the only feasible transport once the land disappears. Probably about this time next week given how quickly global warming is melting the Antarctic Ice Cap!

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    It seems that a total of 114 documents are missing from official records at the home office in relation to the historic child abuse and the dossier handed to Lord Britton. Sounds a bit selectively careless of them, rather similar to the police files over Hillsborough perhaps?

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: “It seems that a total of 114 documents are missing from official records at the home office … “

      Indeed but considering who made the original allegations in the 1980s how come no one from his own party followed up on these allegations once they had been returned to power in 1997, also the first thing that has to be determined is -if these documents are indeed missing [1]- when did they go missing, people on the left are being very quick to point fingers but there seems to be a lot of unasked questions that relate to their own more recent times in office.

      [1] if there is, or it was judged at the time that there was, nothing in the allegations made someone at the HO might have decided to protect not only any names within the allegations but also protect the person making the allegations should the document(s) find their way into the p8ublic domain and thus cause legal issues, as happened recently when incorrect allegations were made against a Lord who has since died.

      • Hope
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        Rubbish, the culture at the time was to dismiss it as a case that children were making it up. Look at Cyril Smith and other cases to realise that nothing was done and the others aided and abetted their wrong by doing nothing. Is there not a case currently being looked at a Tory MP?

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

          Hope: “the culture at the time was to dismiss it as a case that children were making it up.”

          Exactly my point!…

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      An inquiry will be needed on this, far better for Cameron to grant one now rather, than waiting until the very end and doing another Maria Millar disaster.

      The issue is perhaps rather more important than journalists listening to answer phones on which they have spent hundreds of millions.

    • Hope
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      What is of concern is that Mr Danczuk MP is reported in the pates to state that a Tory minister warned him not to name Lord Britain to the select committee and others members of the committee were also so warned. How can this not be described a Westminster/Whitehall led establishment cover could He was even told this happened a long time ago, try telling the phone hackers now in jail or Rolf Harris. Time for a proper independent, non Iraq war type whitewash, inquiry. Perhaps a proper expense inquiry and police investigation could be considered as well.

      When is Cameron going to exactly clean up Westminster? Clegg should be able to give his support as he promised this as well! Cameron might be able to restore his poor judgement in the eyes of the public ie Coulson, Miller, Mercer, Rock, Laws etc.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      At any one time there are 650 MPs out of a population of 66 million people. They are supposed to be a cross representation of us and yet you could not swing a cat in parliament without hitting:

      – an expenses fiddler
      – an adulterer
      – a child molester (or other sexual deviant)
      – a traitor

      Perhaps all four in one hit.

      Are you telling me that, out of 65 million people, we couldn’t do better than this ? I suppose by swinging the cat I would be an animal abuser which would be yet another type of crime committed in Parliament and would make me no better.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        @Anonymous: I suspect that if you gathered any similar number from the general population (perhaps ever a cross section of employees from any given large company or from behind the goal at a league football match) together into a single room you would have the same problem, for the same list of wrong doing. All you’ve done is actually prove that MPs are just ordinary people elected to do a job of work that puts then into the public eye!

        Oh and don’t go on about being paid from public taxes as many people are, either directly or indirectly.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

          I do not think statistically that the public are remotely as bad as MPs on average, not even football supporters. I think there is something about some of the sorts that want to become an MP and hold power, or perhaps the delusions of grandeur they get once in office. Lying after all is almost in the job description.

          • Jerry
            Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            @Lifelogic: “I do not think statistically that the public are remotely as bad as MPs on average”

            With the suggested amount if insurance fraud alone I would not be so sure.

      • Hope
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        Veiled last week how the taxpayer is subsidising food and alcohol for politicians to the tune of £7 million! How is this justified on top of the pay pay rise out of sink with other public sector bodies? A radical overhaul is needed at Westminster. After all the governing party only presents EU law, policy and regulation.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:47 am | Permalink

          @Hope: “Westminster. After all the governing party only presents EU law, policy and regulation.”

          Ignorance is bliss, but totally inexcusable in this age of the internet access to Hansard and BBC-P…

  5. Old Albion
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    You illicit some fine examples of England’s culture. A culture that will be destroyed if EU/Westminster get their way and chop us up into nine euro-regions. We need an English parliament to protect us from such a fate and to preserve this wonderful country.

  6. Jerry
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    “This blog has never ducked the difficult issues of migration, house prices, EU membership or living standards, but I do not wish to write about the same things all the time.”

    Not sure why John, most of your readers are still going to have their opinion about the EU, the Nanny State, tax, the BBC, quack science, the NHS etc. (you all know who you are)…! 🙂

    • Bazman
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Often the same deluded one despite access to the internet and the facts. You know who you are.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        Deluded in what way?

        • Bazman
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          Strange that you are the one to ask. What does that tell you?! LOL!

  7. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    They are not just sporting events . They are ways the big companies can advertise and sponsor. Wimbledon has a great tradition and we with more years behind us have watched the changes over the years. The strawberries and cream I notice have become a little tacky and I bet they are way overpriced yet the atmosphere is still very present.For many years , perhaps until the new roof was erected on centre court, Wimbledon seemed to be frozen in a time capsule ,but the event has now definitely modernised and has managed to retain the English essence.The commentators and spectators seem like old friends we are comfortable with each year and glad to see.

    I have an old kayak in my back garden, ( which my grand daughter thinks is Mr Tumble’s boat). It is very near my little stream; completely dry this year, yet I need to take an axe to it rather than it being of interest to any buyers.

  8. Bazman
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    No mention of cycling as millions flock to Tour De Yorkshire John. I know you do not want to look like a London metropolitan elite MP, so a strange omission considering Britains historical and recent victories in cycling. Not quite leather on willow I know.

    Reply The Tour de France is not a typically English event rooted in English culture!

    • Mark
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      There is something called the Milk Race, although it has only been in existence since 1945. The Association of British Cycle Coaches has a history of cycle inventions and the development of the sport here:

      • margaret brandreth-j
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

        The milk race was of interest to myself when it came to my home in Holcombe Brook a few years ago and the competitors climbed up Holcombe hill ( which to non northeners is where the Peel monument is erected in honour of Robert Peel who repealed the corn laws) yet there was still not ebough advertising , otherwise our local pubs and restaurants would have done better.

    • libertarian
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha ha Bazman now thinks The Tour De France is an English traditional sport.

      Oh dear Bazzy you really are detached from reality aren’t you

    • Bazman
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Missing the chance of a massive wealth generating Britain promoting event John. Some bias here. my father is an amateur cyclist of a formidable reputation through the decades and at 80 years old can still do under the hour on a 25. Read it and weep 2o year olds. Barry.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        @Bazman: “Missing the chance of a massive wealth generating Britain promoting event”

        The “Tour De France” will likely bring very little immediate benefit to the UK economy, once the costs of putting on the event is taken into account (the cost to the wider economy etc of closed or restricted transport links etc, how many will be avoiding London today, if they can or are not intending to watch the cycling?…), on the other hand the worth of Wimbledon, the Silverstone GP, Test Cricket, Football/Rugby, even smaller events like Henley are more immediate whilst cost little in lost business etc.

        For areas that the Tour De France passes through, even those in France its self, the sporting event is more about publicity and thus possible future tourist profits.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

          Sorry, I wrote my reply to Bazman before reading today’s article from Mr Redwood, he makes my point fer better!

      • Bazman
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        So obviously on this bias the Isle of Man TT races which have been running since 1907 is a burden on the island causing havoc and danger for days as most of the roads and many leading to them are closed with all these motorbikes and tourist speeding around. Don’t see anyone calling for them to be stopped due to costs to the council. Interesting to see why it is never on mainstream TV. The minority interest or difficult to film does not wash as the RAC rally receives coverage.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    That’s OK until the Americans take over. I recently had occasion to watch an American video based on Thomas the Tank Engine, and it was appalling.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Denis Cooper: Oh I don’t know, Ruby League seems to have morphed into a more Americanised spectator sport without changing the heart of the game, unlike how much of cricket has been morphed into some over commercialised Australian version of the sport, complete with the teams wearing what look like pyjamas! Give me a game of Baseball or American Football any day over what passes for commercialised cricket these days, and I say that as someone who used to love wasting away summer days watching the sport (never could play it very well though)…

  10. oldtimer
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I offer a couple of newer examples. The first is the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a four day event. It has been running for just 20 years but it quickly established itself as a unique event attracting participants and visitors from around the world interested in motor sport. Lord March also runs the Goodwood Revival, races for historic race cars, and the much more traditional Glorious Goodwood horse race festival. All are good examples of a traditional setting, the stately home and estate, being put to new uses through the enthusiasm and skills of the owner.

    The other sporting event which owes an enormous amount the entrepreneurial skill and drive of one man, Bernie Ecclestone, is Formula 1 Grand Prix racing, which has grown into a remarkable global business.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      @oldtimer: Totally agree, but then I’m probably biased, of which I’ll say no more…

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Good to see Norman Tebbit looking well and talking the usual good sense on Andrew Marr. Where on earth the people like him in Cameron’s dreadfully wet rabble of “BBC think” incompetents and token “equality” people in his dreadful coalition?

    Only a tiny handful of Tory MPs, well under 30 I would estimate, seem fairly sensible. What hope it there?

    • Bazman
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      You will of course then be in Norman Tebbit’s views on food banks.
      Made a donation myself yesterday. Coffee, sugar, biscuits, and strangely custard. In a rapidly expanding and prosperous area of Cambridge. Welfare reforms it seem are far from well fair. Deluded food for free comments are just that.

      • Anonymous
        Posted July 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Build it and they will come, Bazman.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      @Lifelogic: I don’t always agree with Lord Tebbit, but I did today, and what is more, what he chose not to say (in reply to comments by Helena Kennedy) was even more noteworthy, the simply look he gave Andrew Marr as a reply was priceless! Was Helena Kennedy purposely trying to trip Lord Tebbit up into saying something indiscreet on live TV, if so it failed and backfired upon herself in my opinion.

  12. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Sad to say, but there are very definitely “difficult issues” that you don’t touch and that you won’t allow others to touch either. It’s your site so of course you may do as you please.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Postscript–It’s Lord’s BTW

  13. Mark B
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Good analogy, comparing sport and the UK.

    We give the worlds so much in sporting terms, like cricket and tennis, but also football, rugby, and of course, golf (Scotland).

    We have also given the world so much in science and engineering. The steam engine, the jet engine, computing and electronics, telecommunications and more. Yet, just like sport, once invented, we seem to be not particularly good at exploiting our success, why ?

    For example: Look at, Dyson. Here is a man who invented great products but, could not produce them hear because of costs. And Roger Baliss, the inventor of the wind-up radio, to be used in third world countries. Never given the appreciation he deserved.

    We do not appreciate or support those that make real advances in science and engineering enough. We seem to fetter after Z-List Celebs, sports men and women, fat-cat business owners like ‘Fred-the-shred and the money men in the city. As if these people are the true hero’s of mankind.

    No, the true hero’s are those that make a difference to our lives but do not need to shout about it and appear in Celeb-Mags. People like Alan Turing, Tommy Flowers, Tim Berners-Lee , and Charles Babbage. Men who, were in not for them, and their combined achievements, we would not be sitting here today typing on the machines for which they laid the foundations.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Every dog has his day, and our relative decline started in the late 19th century.

      The recurring questions are:

      a) To what extent our relative decline has been unnecessarily hastened by the actions of successive governments of different parties; and

      b) Assuming that it has, whether that has been just been through stupidity and indifference and incompetence or there has also been malice.

      Given that so few of those who we elect to Parliament exhibit any loyalty to the country and its people, I don’t think we can rule out malice.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Indeed let us recognise the engineers, medics, inventors, business people and the real doers or the World (and not just the female ones as is the usual BBC approach) excellent though they may well be.

      This rather than the (mainly) duff bureaucrats, time servers, politicians, hangers on and worst of all moronic lefty actors, pop musicians, sports people, sailors, athletes, mountaineers, lefty feminists and other TV celebs that litter Comment & Questiontime types of programmes. They so rarely have anything sensible or even understandable to say.

    • libertarian
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Mark B

      Absolutely and all of them brought about by free market, entrepreneurialism , none of them developed by a centralised government innovation unit. Oh look the EU has just announced it will be spending our money on a digital data innovation unit. Ha ha ha yes of course they will. Google, Microsoft, Apple and Samsung must be quaking in their boots. NOT

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        @libertarian: “Absolutely and all of them brought about by free market, entrepreneurialism , none of them developed by a centralised government innovation unit.”

        Not sure how true that is, many products that Mark B named were either regulated by or backed by the UK government; The steam engine, the jet engine, computing and electronics and telecommunications all benefited greatly from this. In the case of the (marine) steam engine that benefited greatly from the needs of the Navy whilst even railway locomotive development benefited from the post WW1 state regulation (grouping) of the many individual companies into just four. Then what about the Jet engine, without the support of the government would companies like Rover have done so much early development work. Both computing and electronics benefited from vast government sector involvement and investment, even at the civil level, by way of the state intervention to create ICL. In the case of telecoms who knows how the UK system would have panned out, it was the centralised control of the GPO that allowed a unified network to be built nationwide [1], without any of the wasteful rationalisation that later had to take place when the electric national grid needed to established.

        [1] even that bastion of the free market, the USA recognised that the telecoms needed centralised planning

        • libertarian
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          Not one shred of evidence for anything you posted.

          Actually you are totally wrong about ICL. ICL started life as English Electric a private company which merged with ICT and Elliot , it produced some innovative mainframes 1900 series as well as 2900. THEN the government stepped in and ordered all govt dept to buy ICL. ICL stopped innovating was overtaken by IBM, DEC, Wang and everyone else, went bust and became Fujitsu. So much for government “help”.

          Sorry chum you’re talking to someone who actually knows. Whilst the nationalised GPO was building a national telephone infrastructure that took a minimum of 6 months to deliver a telephone the British PRIVATE company Cable and Wireless built the GLOBAL telecoms backbone. They laid the TAT system of transatlantic undersea cables that enabled the world to communicate.

          Prior to the GPO there were many privatised companies offering telecoms in UK. The Telegraph Act 1868 granted the Postmaster-General the right to acquire inland telegraph companies in the United Kingdom and the Telegraph Act 1869 conferred on the Postmaster-General a monopoly in telegraphic communication in the UK.

          The responsibility for the ‘electric telegraphs’ was officially transferred to the GPO on Friday, 4 February 1870. So you see my friend the GPO was purely a nationalisation of the EXISTING private infrastructure

          No advances in computing or telecoms was made by the UK government.

          The only development that has been govt backed is military

          Er more bull the USA in fact did NOT have a centrally planned telecoms infrastructure AT & T Long lines a private company actually held the patent of the telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell. Although they were originally a monopoly they were a wholly private company and eventually the US govt broke up their monopoly. At the time there were other national communication companies such as Western Union the telegraph co.

          Why you think telecoms need centralised planning is beyond me. Do you not know that we have multiple telecoms systems in the UK now?

          • Jerry
            Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink


            Not one shred of evidence for anything you posted – either…

            I know the history of ICL, I even used to know people who worked for its constituent companies before the formation of ICL. Perhaps you would have preferred those companies to have been bought up, absorbed or closed down by their US competitors with the obvious civil, governmental and defence implications – as indeed we have seen since. But I don’t claim that ICL was a success, indeed it probably wasn’t, much like BL and many other nationalised companies that had far to much political interference, it isn’t who owns it but who (tries) to run it that is the problem.

            “Prior to the GPO there were many privatised companies offering telecoms in UK. The Telegraph Act 1868 granted the Postmaster-General the right to acquire inland telegraph companies in the United Kingdom and the Telegraph Act 1869 conferred on the Postmaster-General a monopoly in telegraphic communication in the UK.”

            EXACTLY, telecoms were not only regulated but taken over by the state in effect, so at the bottom that single paragraph you actually manage to argue against you own comments at the top of the same paragraph!

            “Er more bull the USA in fact did NOT have a centrally planned telecoms infrastructure AT & T Long lines a … and eventually the US govt broke up their monopoly.”

            EXACTLY, US telecoms became regulated, yet again you argue against your own preamble within the same paragraph!

            “Why you think telecoms need centralised planning is beyond me”

            You mean like the electrical system wasn’t regulated or planned in its early days and thus we had several different voltages and two different types of phases (AC and DC) in the UK?… Why you think telecoms doesn’t need centralised planning is beyond me, even the many telecoms companies accept this and work together on providing a robust network. Or perhaps you quite like the idea of not being able to calls someone on a different network because that network is incomparable with your own!…

    • JoeSoap
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      I would say we do tend to exploit the opportunities in sport and entertainment but don’t in science and engineering, which we’re equally fundamentally good at. This is thanks in no small measure to the press, politicans and media generally who would rather be seen with Beckham than Berners-Lee or Baliss.

  14. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, why did you forget to mention golf?
    Is it because it originated in Scotland instead of England?
    Or because the Golf Ryder Cup always so prominently shows the EU flag? 🙂

    I’m still sorry England had to leave the soccer worldcup so early, I invite you to support the Dutch this time, they will need it.

    Reply I was commenting on English games!

    • Bryan
      Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      It used to be GBR and NI v the USA for the Ryder Cup. Then we invited some European golfers to join the team so that we could give the US a licking.

      At this point, being good, albeit foolish, Europeans, we flew the EU flag and left the Union Flag in the cupboard under multiple locks. I understand our Lords and Masters have lost the keys to the cupboard but good people like Mr Redwood are searching for them!

  15. Bert Young
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Our traditions in the sporting world do indeed go back a long way ; in most cases the sport was invented here . There were 2 major missing sports in the blog this morning , one of them – Formula One features its 50th anniversary today ; the other – Rugby , plays host to the World cup next year . Working hard and playing hard have featured in the development of young minds and bodies for many centuries ; it features the characteristic of being ” British ” and the rules of fair play . Michael Gove is right to re-embody these traditions in our schools and to emphasise why our fair play is an example to the world . Above all , we do not need outsiders to tell us how do things ; we have created the modifications needed to the sports whenever the players and the regulators thought them sensible and worthwhile . The outside world have watched , admired and copied our sports ; in the case of rugby , the French introduced it to their range of activities to encourage the discipline and behaviour of their young men just as Webb Ellis did for the same reason at Rugby school . Formula One retains its leading edge in technology today and contributes much to our economy and respect in the eyes of the world .

  16. James Matthews
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    “This blog has never ducked the difficult issues of migration, house prices, EU membership or living standards, but I do not wish to write about the same things all the time.”

    You do appear to censor comments thereon, though, if the absence of my response to your previous “sporting” post on 25th June was not some sort of electronic accident (“awaited moderation”, but never appeared).

  17. John Wrake
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Great to celebrate English sports which have spread world-wide and that does include Association Football and Rugby. The heart of these sports still remains in England.

    There are others which have faded from the scene somewhat, like croquet (which used to be Pell Mell), Archery and Bowls.

    What is lacking is the spirit which moved Francis Drake to finish his game of bowls and THEN, to go out and hammer the Armada.

    It is said that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton. What is missing at present from those who enjoy their sporting events is the courage and determination to destroy the malign forces ranged against England, the soft words that conceal the truth, the compromises which surrender.

    It is not just championships which we need to win. It is the survival of our nation and our heritage.

    John Wrake.

  18. ian
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    IT seem to me that your blogs want to join the 20%

  19. Peter Richmond
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    The pity about all this sport is that England or the UK do so badly. We have 60 million plus people but seem to find it difficult to put winning teams together. The English soccer team are a disgrace. The cricketers have not lived up to expectations this year and seem more concerned with insulting Kevin Peterson than focussing on their game. But one can only sympathise with Mark Cavendish who crashed out of the tour de France yesterday. (Mind you, Yorkshire are definitely doing the event proud. Beautiful scenery and very challenging terrain for cyclists!)
    Tennis seems dominated by non UK players.
    I wonder if this in part reflects the way money made by all these organisations be it the FA, the LTA, etc is used. Just how effective are they in supporting sport across the nation?

  20. Mark
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Rowing is a sport where hi-tech has a major role. It ranges from the scientific monitoring of rowers and the use of closely controlled diet and exercise to the computerised design of boats and oars, and the use of modern materials such as carbon fibre, and even the electronic systems for communication from the cox.

  21. Iain Gill
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Re “about leadership, brand promotion and the way the UK can earn its living in a very competitive world. Today I wish to examine the Wimbledon model of economic development” and “England takes something which is essentially English, rooted in our past and our traditions, and turns it into a global event attracting the talent of the world”
    For what it’s worth I think you have picked a very middle class, BBC think, view of England, which doesn’t relate to how others see this country, or what makes us successful at all.
    My own examples:
    1 In taxi’s in Los Angeles, on hearing my accent but knowing nothing else about me at all, the drivers would spontaneously ask me to thank members of Led Zeppelin for some great music, naming the towns associated with John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page, and telling me how they are saving up to visit these places (I kid you not, as some of these places are not the kinds of places I would go on holiday). I would gently explain that although England is a small place, it’s not actually small enough for me to know these musicians personally (as they imagine we English all know each other as our country is so small).
    2 In Chicago, queuing up in burger bars, on hearing my accent, people would literally push to the front of the queue and shake my hand telling me how much they loved Def Leppard and could I please thank the band members for making some great music.
    And similar stories throughout the world, KL, Hong Kong, Italy, etc. And I was in ordinary neutral clothing, not at all dressed like a stereotypical rock fan. During all my travels round the world not a single person has ever mentioned an English sporting event or hero in the same kind of way.
    Our (rock) music brings lots of money into the country on the sales and tours, but also in tourism as people just want to walk around the places associated with their heroes. These bands could tell you more about promotion than your examples. The leadership involved in being the figurehead of a big road crew, and travelling entertainment circus, is tougher than you would imagine. And I can tell you for free this kind of stuff attracts more talent here than anything you have mentioned. Good Art which pays tax and is not subsidised by the state like much of the political elites favoured Art is.
    Two of the three surviving members of Queen are right now on a world tour probably bringing more money into the UK on their own than any of the sporting events you have mentioned, McCartney is resuming his tour after being ill, and so on. Go to any rock music event in this country and see the international tourists who have spent a lot of money coming to this country to be there, a bigger tourism hit than a few weeks of Wimbledon will ever be.
    This is the real England, the way the rest of the world and our factual balance sheets looks at us.

  22. JoeSoap
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    The difficult issues you don’t really address here:
    1 How you square the government subsidising house builders via Help to Buy and other schemes with a free market economy where they don’t also subsidise via Help to Travel for trains, Help to Heat for fuel prices and so on….
    2 How you square a student loan policy for English students where 45% of loan value expects to be written off by the government, making the policy meaningless, and where different rules accrue within the Sovereign state in Scotland and Wales
    3 Why you aren’t brave enough to let the Scots decide for themselves on their independence from the UK, without political intervention from outside Scotland, as you would have for the UK in Europe
    4 Why you stay in a party which is out of step with your views in many other important areas, (bank reform, Europe, deregulation, tax policy, energy policy, immigration, English Parliament) when there is an alternative which is dead in tune with your opinions.

  23. Chris S
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    John, you mention the tiny amount of money brought to the UK by the manufacture of cricket bats etc and Wimbledon but you completely failed to mention that other great sporting event on today, the British Grand Prix and the value Motorsport contributes to the British Economy.

    Motorsport is a huge moneyspinner for the UK. It’s our greatest sporting success story.
    With the sole exception of Ferrari, all the major teams in F1 are based in Britain and the vast majority of the components and engineering are made and developed in Britain.

    British-built cars have won more Grand Prix than those of any other nation and British drivers have enjoyed huge success over the years. Of 22 drivers currently on the F1 grid, three are British and two of them are World Champions.

    The knock on effect to our Engineering prowess is immense and Motorsport engineering exports bring in several Billions a year.

  24. Chris S
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink


    Lewis Hamilton has just won the British Grand Prix.

    At least we have some sporting success to celebrate !

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      @Chris S: “Lewis Hamilton has just won the British Grand Prix.”

      In a German owned team and powered car….

      Jenson Button did better in this respect, even if the BBC commentary tried hard never to mention his name during the race!

      Max Chilton also deserves mention, best ever qualifying if I’m not mistaken, and would have been in the mix doubt had it not been for the stupid FIA rules on replacement parts causing a grid-drop. Oh and that

      @Chris S: “The knock on effect to our Engineering prowess is immense and Motorsport engineering exports bring in several Billions a year.”

      Indeed but in my opinion it is starting to loose its self up its own vortex, the sooner the “Green lobby” are told to take a hike the better!

  25. Anonymous
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    The creation of great field games, which many nations wish to play reflects on our individuality (as I attempted to explain to Mr van Leeuwen a while back.) We may no longer champions in them but the games themselves are many and among the best.

    When will bog snorkeling become an international event ?

  26. Bill
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I note from a recent set of TV documentaries that British Airways is also clear that, by upholding British values of courtesy and personal care, it will flourish.

    I was sitting on the train the other day with someone who belonged to the racing fraternity and learnt that there also there is an avoidance of naked commercialism, excessive drunkenness and gang violence. What is civilisation but civility writ large?

  27. Matt
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Whilst Henley revels in its rejection of some modernity the boats and training of the athletes is certainly very 21st century hence the UKs excellent record in the sport. What is not so great about Henley is the modern curse of drunken behaviour associated with the supporting commercial events – particularly on the Wokingham side of the river!

  28. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    This blog has never ducked the difficult issues of migration, house prices, EU membership or living standards, but I do not wish to write about the same things all the time.

    Although Professor Redwood you have shown many great insights– you have ducked the biggest issue that is the affordability of the national debt. Moreover what as a country we are going to do when interest rates rise from historically low levels. I have not heard your view on your chosen method of recovery from the debt ie default, inflate away the debt by printing money.

    I have listened carefully to your views and you offer no answer to commentators such as Tim Morgan who believe we are in very deep trouble indeed. One just has to presume your hands are tied by the constraints of office and the need to present a positive although not entirely complete picture in order not to alarm.
    The Westminster position seems to be that voters do not want to hear bad news.

    You also have no answer to the sustainability question – how can we go on growing as a population when we are reaching the limits that this small island can comfortably support. You do not seem to have a view on optimum population size or how we might limit population growth when this limit is reached.

    Reply I have often written about our debts, and argued successfully for a more honest presentation of our debt size. I have recommended various reductions in our public spending. I have consistently favoured proper immigration controls to control growth in population.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      @Kenneth R Moore: “how can we go on growing as a population when we are reaching the limits that this small island can comfortably support.”

      UK population per Sq mile is not very high, how does Monaco ever manage!

    • Kenneth R Moore
      Posted July 8, 2014 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your reply Professor Redwood. I note you have discussed the debt but I cannot remember any discussion on how we might, if ever pay it back. I would be interested on your views on the long term sustainability of present government borrowing – for how long can the present spending bonanza carry on without a sound wealth creating base to pay for it ?.

      How close are we to the day of reckoning when creditors raise interest rates on government borrowing and blow a gigantic hole in our finances ?. When and how will the next financial crash pan out ?

      I think someone should have the honesty to explain that the trillions and trillions of pounds of debt will most likely be inflated away destroying the combined wealth of savers – just the sort of people you serve in Wokingham.

      On immigration I feel you haven’t fully engaged with the sustainability of present rates of immigration. If we are stuck with open borders we deserve to be told the truth – that population will exceed 70 million in 20 oir so years time and that we have got to get used to more crowding and further unwanted change to a much loved country. Where is the human dignity and quality of life for those that will have to be grateful to live in a tiny flat at an extortionate rent because competition for property is so intense ?.

      How can we pay for the extra Gp’s, hospitals and roads etc. needed when we are importing so many low skilled workers – hardly the basis for an advanced high skill ,high tech economy that we need to pay our way.

      What action do you believe should be taken when the population reaches 70, 80 or 90 million?. Do politicians just believe that the population will just stop growing all by itself. Or wouldn’t it be better to take action NOW to prevent a much worse crisis in 30 years time.

  29. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    UK population per Sq mile is not very high, how does Monaco ever manage!

    Well England is one the most densely populated regions in Europe . There is acute pressure on water resources, public services,transport and housing in the South East affecting the life quality of millions.

    Don’t be so silly – comparing a zero income tax/ gambling haven to the Uk isn’t sensible . Monaco isn’t a comfortable place to be for those on low incomes and is crowded – no place for those who like elbow room . The super rich there can afford to buy peace and space. Perhaps India or Ethiopia with rapidly increasing populations also prove your point ?.

    “Can you think of
    any problem in any area of
    human endeavor on any scale,
    from microscopic to global,
    whose long-term solution
    is in any demonstrable way
    aided, assisted, or advanced by
    further increases in population,
    locally, nationally, or globally?”
    – Prof. Al Bartlett

    • Jerry
      Posted July 8, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      @Kenneth R Moore: “There is acute pressure on water resources, public services,transport and housing in the South East affecting the life quality of millions.”

      But that is all to do with planning, and quite why the UK is short of water considering we are an island, after all places like Qatar is not short of water are they…

      “Don’t be so silly – comparing a zero income tax/ gambling haven to the Uk isn’t sensible”

      Best not tell that to the likes of Lifelogic, he seems to quite like the idea of the UK becoming a tax haven, not sure about gambling though.

  • 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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