Does the Uk know how to sell into the modern world?


                     If I had sent a sales force with a good new product to sell in 21 countries of the world I would have been very disappointed if they came  back with just one success. I would have been  even more worried, if the target was to sell to 12.

                       The recent discovery that only one overseas Fifa voter backed the UK World Cup proposal  goes alongside the news that we still sell more to Ireland than to India, Brazil and  China combined. We have to ask what don’t we understand about the modern world?

                          Let us assume in the case of Fifa that their stated reasons for our failure were true. We hear they wanted  newer territory to take football to. We understand they like bids with plenty of new construction and a great legacy from all the work. What had happened to our market research? Such a brief meant either we should not compete, as it was not for us, or it meant a different vision for any UK bid. Why didn’t our bid concentrate on how we would spread the word, sell the tickets and the passion around the globe and make the World Cup relevant for countries without a great football heritage? Why didn’t we offer to  harness some of the future  huge UK Overseas Aid budget for football related projects in poorer countries as a central part of the bid?

                 Taking the wider problem  of how we export more, there are the questions of whether we make the right cars, machinery and electronic products for developing markets. If we do, are we good at explaining and adapting them to different conditions? Clearly some of our best companies do, and are very successful exporters.Overall the results still are a long way off the pace.  

                   We also need  to discuss the issue of inducements. Sensible British business people know the UK has a tough law against bribery and uphold it in all their dealings . This was extended in 2002 to include making a UK business person responsible for the action of any independent business agent working for them in an overseas territory. As there are some overseas countries where incentives or personal favours to the purchaser are more common  it means there are  territories where any law abiding UK business person is wise to avoid, or expects to fail with some of their straight forward inducement free offers. Is this true of the UK’s leading competitors? Where do sensible client entertaining, explanatory trips and seminars and free samples end, and unreasonable personal benefits for a customer begin?


  1. Mike Stallard
    December 4, 2010

    What a brilliant set of ideas! Another really good blog.
    Actually I have just got back from Bangkok. On the way back, I had a chance to talk with European passengers who were selling to Asians of various nationalities.
    Humility is the key. You have to find out what the Asians really really want and provide it efficiently in a fog of misunderstanding, “arrangements” and a lot of politicking.
    You are so right.
    A word of caution: I was appalled with this Thai proverb:
    “If you are cornered by a snake and an Indian,
    (tackle-ed) the Indian.” Apparently it is common currency out there.
    Selling in Asia is not easy. But it brings great rewards.

  2. Stuart Fairney
    December 4, 2010

    OT but given that Mr Cable is still flip-flopping on whether or not to vote for his own legislation(!) why is he still a minister? A clearer and more obvious need to resign or be fired I cannot imagine.

  3. Simon
    December 4, 2010

    The Football Association is a British (English and Welsh) body .

    Perhaps the bid should have been a British and Irish affair with matches in Eire and all countries of the union . Certainly Croke Park would have been a fitting venue .

    On an English level , the opportunity was missed to move the National Stadium out of the Capital and into one of the provinces where revitalisation is needed more .

    FIFA is a (questionable-ed) body so all bets are off but even so it does look like the British are not very popular around the globe .

    As for industry , most of what used to be World Class British companies are no longer British (Pilkingtons , Cadbury’s) and/or no longer World Class (BP) . The list goes on and on .

    It’s no use being unilaterally free market . Ideology has to take a back seat to acting in our own interest , or at least , not shooting ourselves in the foot all the time .

    When British hedge funds tried to buy a stake in a electricity generating company in Japan they were blocked and Mandleson would not put in place reciprocal sanctions .

    Our nationalised energy producers and procurers have been replaced by dependency on the European Energy Cartel . If we are going to have a monopoly/cartel let’s have it unders state ownership so we can all share in the proceeds .

    The general public and industries energy bills have been allowed by the Govt to increase well beyond wholesale prices . As I understand it this ostensibly to encourage them to invest in new infrastructure and R&D to increase capacity . Is that what is happening ?

    We’ve got to start looking after our own and bringing functions which are critical to national security back in house .

    1. Stuart Fairney
      December 4, 2010

      At the risk of being pedantic, the FA is English, there is a seperate Welsh FA. Whereas for example, the England & Wales cricket board covers both countries.

      That said, given that Qatar won it in 2022 and is half the size of Wales in area and population, I’m dreading a Wales 2026 bid!

  4. lifelogic
    December 4, 2010

    Difficult to compete when many of our engineers go into better paid jobs in the the state sector or the city. The engineering business in particular is over regulated and pushed out of the country by higher wages than most places, over regulation, planning and environmental laws and expensive suppliers for similar reason and too high taxes, lack of bank lending to the sector, expensive water and energy too. Just not the best place to do it. You will always struggle to compete because the state is basically against you all the way. And if you do do well they will pinch all the money off you in Corporation Tax, IHT, IT NI and CGT and VAT.

    1. DougS
      December 4, 2010

      Excellent replies to an excellent blog.

      My slightly off topic response to John’s post, but on-topic with regard to regulation, is that a business I started several years ago has grown to the extent that I could hire a skilled, full time employee in the UK. I am, however, risk averse and the UK’s employment regulations are onerous and heavily weighted in favour of “gold digging” employees. There are many stories out there about employers being taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous employees. Therefore I subcontract work overseas – and no, not to third world countries – mainly to Australia and Canada.

      John, I believe current regulations are preventing the creation of hundreds of thousands (possibly more) of skilled, private sector UK jobs and encouraging outsourcing of technical work overseas. For many small UK businesses, the risks of taking on a full time UK employee are too great.

    2. lifelogic
      December 4, 2010

      And now as another burden on Industry Lynne Choona Featherstone want to decide from on high which sex staff employers should have to employ – but wishes to allow them to discriminate against men – as she clearly thinks she knows better than employers and staff at the coal face do.

      Doubtless her Diploma in Communication and Design at Oxford Poly was a great help to her in pushing equality at the expense of efficiency and in her earlier work as chair of the Liberal Democrats technology board.

      Might she not confine her activity to her other area of interest. Stopping topless models on page 3 where she might at least do rather less damage to competitive industry.

      1. p soakwl
        December 5, 2010

        Hands off the page 3 too! – ( Is nothing sacred)?

    3. Stuart Fairney
      December 5, 2010

      Entirely correct. Worse still most of the politicians are either genuinely ignorant of this, believing industry/commerce is just something to be milked for taxes without consequence or perhaps even worse, they realise the truth but refusing to take radical action to deal with the obvious problems.

      It is quite amazing to me why we tolerate growth* targets of 2-3% when we know the Chinese will absolutely surpass us with 10% p.a. We are marching slowly, in a regulated manner, towards our own total eclipse and irrelevance.

      Meanwhile criminal thieves like Chaytor help themselves to looted money. Kinda makes you see why the failed political class don’t seem concerned to address it. They are okay, just as the North Korean elite eat well while their people starve.

      1. Simon
        December 5, 2010

        Stuart ,

        Up until now I’ve always given politicians the benefit of the doubt and assumed they were just incompetent and insulated from the real world .

        Now I’m really starting to think that the destruction of the UK that they have wrought has been deliberate .

        They’ve got the opportunity , any idea what the motive might be ?

  5. A.Sedgwick
    December 4, 2010

    A good piece – forgetting all the FIFA shortcomings the English FA has long been regarded as not up to the job and has not moved with the times. The Premier League has shown the way and maybe we need an international premier league to sideline FIFA.
    As to the result Russia has never held the event and was, until the last few days, the favourite. The reality is we should have held the championship in 2006.
    As to Quatar – this early decision is more difficult to rationalise.

  6. norman
    December 4, 2010

    To borrow a phrase of one high profile person, it seems our approach to top British companies dealing abroad is ‘idiocy’. Up to a certain point my attitude is ‘when in Rome’. If MP’s in the recent past have been happy to accept brown envelopes stuffed with cash, plead guilty to submitting fictional expense claims, lie in election leaflets, pimp themselves as a ‘taxi for hire’, and all other manner of goodies this is more important than if a salesman gives a potential client a nice watch, or a car for one his kids.

    As for the failed World Cup bid, would that these bids went on in perpetuity. If it can keep politicians, up to and including the Prime Minister (do we now really have things so good that he can clear his diary for days at a time for this?), busy and out of our lives bid away, I say.

    Let’s try and win everything from the tiddliewinks championships up.

    1. Stuart Fairney
      December 4, 2010

      Given that neither the FA nor the government is reputed for cast iron cost control, I raised a glass to the rejection of the bid. If only Paris had won the Olympics in 2012.

  7. Brian
    December 4, 2010

    If we want to sell in the world we must adapt to local cultures and not appease self-regarding UK politicians who like to read about themselves in The Guardian.

  8. electro-kevin
    December 4, 2010

    I look forward to the BBC’s equally vigorous expose’s on EU corruption.

  9. electro-kevin
    December 4, 2010

    Mr Cameron and Prince William weren’t selling a new product to the world. They were selling an old one. But why were they selling at all ? They have only themselves to blame for putting themselves up front if they are feeling offended.

    In Mr Cameron’s case I can’t help feeling that his involvement was cynical. Like Blair before him he knows the grip that football has over this country and that – if to hold office for its own sake is his aim – he must declare openly his own football fanaticism.

    – Britain wins the World Cup bid – Cameron wins

    – Britain loses the World Cup bid – Cameron shows he is ‘gutted’ (to use football parlance) and displays his man-of-the-people credentials. Cameron wins

    His talents would have been far better deployed defending Britain in Europe as he promised he would.

    But he chose panem et circenses.

    Blair Mk II I’m afraid.

  10. Peter van Leeuwen
    December 4, 2010

    If one could “become” the client and think and feel as he does, that would be key to successful business.
    Humility in business, doesn’t imply lack of self-worth but just loads of respect for the person, language and culture you’re dealing with. As for the World Cup, you did secure the 2012 Olympics, so you’re already quite successful as a country.

  11. oldtimer
    December 4, 2010

    More competitive (ie lower) corporate and personal tax rates would be a good place to start. It has been like this since time immemorial. Businesses will go to places where the cost of doing business is lower. Otherwise you are just beating your head against a brick wall.

    The organisation that needs to be doing its market research is the government. It needs to understand why there has been a migration of businesses away from the UK over many, many years and what it needs to do to reverse the tend.

    It is also noteworthy that while the government is passing laws about bribery, it is not above buying influence – under the guise of grants, aid money and cash handouts – for the causes it espouses. The last government was notorious for the tens of millions it spent this way to promote the anthropogenic global warming thesis and to pay others to lobby it to do something about it. The EU, apparently, does the same on an even grander scale on many issues. Much of this sounds like a racket to me, and a case of double standards at work. It is one rule for the political class, another rule for the rest of us.

  12. David B
    December 4, 2010

    Why are we still pursuing Zanu’s bread and circus agenda anyway? Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Football World Cup? Rest assured the biggest legacy of all these events will be their contribution to our bloated national debt.

    As to selling abroad, earlier comments regarding the ownership of exporting companies I fully endorse. But we also have, in our left wing state broadcaster especially, a tendency to run our own companies down. Look at the reporting of the Rolls engine story. Do those who sponge from the licence fee realise how many people earn their crust from that company’s exports? Rumours are not facts. Stick to facts Aunty.

    I think where British companies are the best at what they do they seem to be able to export. We maybe had an obsession with price at the expense of quality in the past. We need to encourage people to be the best at everything. Another ideal destroyed by socialist everyone is equal dogma.

  13. Geoff not Hoon
    December 4, 2010

    Mr. Redwood, Go back but a short while and we used to sell almost everything to everyone on the planet. UK made (not just UK assembled) cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, buses, trains, consumer electronics etc. etc. you name it we sold it world wide. Whether it be excessive trade union power, poor management, the wrong products or a government under lady Thatcher that was quite happy to ‘allow’ manufacturing to move abroad we have never recovered since. It is sad to read my trade magazines and see Britain produced more cars in the mid 2000’s than at any time since the war when probably only 1% were actually British business’s. Only this week I met a man with a small business making spares for vintage motorcycles. He wanted to produce approx. 100 cylinder head covers and could not find a UK business to do it and ended up in Portugal of all places. Perhaps, and at last, our government realise they have to provide a framework for such industry to flourish as it did over a hundred years ago. The problem today that was not there one hundred years ago is ruthless low wage competition. The saying used to be we will leave the Far East to do metal bashing whilst we deal with technology. Unfortunately India and China are already in front of us in many respects.

  14. English Pensioner
    December 4, 2010

    Bribery is rampant in most countries, its just hidden in different ways.
    Look through your newspaper, sooner or later you will see a car advertisement which offers “£1000 cash back on this model”. What is the difference between this, and what happens with major contracts in many countries except scale?
    If it’s a way of life in a particular country, you have to conform. Otherwise you will never do business there whilst there are other businesses from other countries which are prepared to accept the local way of life and whose governments are more concerned about business than the ethics applicable in their own country.
    Bribery exists quite widely in this country, but in more sophisticated forms – what is the difference when a local council tells a supermarket that they can have planning permission provided that in exchange they pay for the cost of some public amenity which has absolutely no connection with the proposed development? In my view, we need to come down harder on bribery within the UK and let other countries look after themselves.
    “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”!

  15. Acorn
    December 4, 2010

    Don’t you just love it when the great eternal plan comes together! What a stroke of luck for EU Federals; the Irish going bust straight after the Greeks. The EU is to start issuing “sovereign” debt via the EFSF. The EFSF is going to morph permanently, into the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The Eurosystem is going to get the equivalent of one Treasury Debt Management Office for all sixteen of its members; issuing Euro Bonds, (not to be confused with “Eurobonds”).

    The power is where the money is. AAA rated Euro Bonds will have to have a bigger yield than German Bunds; so why buy Bunds? The fun is not over yet guys; you can still have a punt on Paddy Bonds at 10% for a while yet. Could be better than doing the lottery.

    Forget about this move not being in the EU Treaties. Rumpey is going to change it at the next Council meeting; no problem.

  16. Mark
    December 4, 2010

    The idea that other nations will abide by Queensbury Rules really is rather quaint. If you want to stamp out corruption, you have to take over the corrupt business or state and replace all its corrupt personnel with people of unimpeachable honesty. If you lack that power, then you have to deal with people as you find them or not at all. Inserting an intermediary in the chain simply increases your costs while doing nothing practical towards protecting your moral high ground. It is the people of a country who have the power to overthrow corrupt rulers and businesses if foreigners won’t invade. That puts PIIGS in an interesting perspective.

    Of equal concern is the manner in which our own country has been undermined by corruption: cash for honours, welfare for those who “know” the right person in the housing department, bonuses beyond avarice and so forth.

  17. JimF
    December 4, 2010

    We are talking about national characteristics.
    We are innovators and creators. We are traders.
    We don’t as a rule organise, make or sell brilliantly. By and large we don’t do bribery and corruption well. We’re good enough at trading not to need to. The Germans make, the Americans organise, sell and take to market. Yet somehow we have as a Country got caught up with the American propensity to hype and have “celebs” without actually being that good at it. Somehow this whole World Cup bid business has been caught in this web.
    FIFA’s aim, as for any international business, is to spread its message far and wide. My point is that unless we can innovate significantly to meet this need in hosting the World Cup here, we are just putting ourselves forward as an historic soccer theme park.
    Perhaps we are better to stick to what we are good at; invent the next big game, the next transportation medium, etc. instead of trying to boil old cabbages twice. Our creative architects will design the stadia, our creative footballers will, hopefully, play the game, and probably our transport planners will be planning the routes in and out of Qatar if not Russia.
    The sad thing was to see the Prime Minister and future King of the Country trying to sell this pup. One has to hope they will be there when the next James Dyson or Tim Berners-Lee comes to the door for help. Somehow I doubt it.

  18. alan jutson
    December 4, 2010


    The solution to selling abroad is really very simple, it is the same as selling anywhere, including the UK, assuming first of all you have a product your prospective customers want or need, and at a price which is competitive for its quality.

    First you need to understand the cultures of the Country where you are attempting to promote your Company. You then follow those cultures as best you can (without trying to cause offence) with communication and use of their language (or at least make an attempt) where possible.

    You then need to understand (or find out) the terms under which business is to be done. If it requires an incentive of some sort that you are comfortable with, then proceed further. If not (and bribery which I personally find totally unaceptable) then forget attempting to try, and avoid wasting your time and money.

    Success is usually best served by promoting the positives and features of your own business, product range, service and back up. Knocking the competition is usually regarded as bad form in most places, including here in the UK.

    Suggesting that any organisation with which you hope to conduct business is corrupt, either in Private, or even worse in Public, with the addition of publicity in the National Media will hinder any negotiations full stop, to belive it will help, is just plain stupidity.

    Our World Cup bid was rather more complicated because of the number of overseas delegates involved, that said, our FA have not had much input into the workings and day – day running of FIFA for many years, and if you do not put in the hard miles, you cannot expect to have much influence over the end result.

    It simply is not good enough to send your best players on in injury time, of a 90 minute game, and expect to get a win.

    From a personal view, I do not think England will get anywhere until Sepp Blatter retires, and I do not see that happening soon.

  19. Iain Gill
    December 4, 2010

    Having had to (deal with -ed) customs officials in Italy to get kit needed for a British project delivered in Italy I’m fully aware of “inducement” culture. We need to be pragmatic. On the other hand we should not endorse out and out corruption and we should protect our own national interests more.

    As for selling to Asia and so on, you will find lots of British software in use out there, problem is they aint paying the licence fees! Same with pharma products many counterfeit goods out there. Our wealth earning capability is centred around intellectual property intensive businesses, software, pharma, music and so on. We really need to get our act together regarding how we react to widespread abuse of our IP.

    As for selling to Asia actually being fair, open and honest is the best way ahead. Giving the head of Tata access to Cameron almost certainly acts against the UK in India as the many legal, decent and honest business people in India read between the lines.


  20. Steve Cox
    December 4, 2010

    When America and Britain are willing to sacrifice thousand’s of their troops’ lives to bring democracy to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, why do they kowtow to these blatantly undemocratic organisations like FIFA and the IOC? The (unpleasant-ed) Juan Antonio Samaranch, who ran the IOC like a Roman Emperor for 21 years, was even worse than the current (man-ed) running FIFA. Isn’t it time that decent nations got together and rebuilt these opaque and deeply flawed governing bodies?

  21. Pete
    December 4, 2010

    I want to know why my taxes were spent on the World Cup bid, and I want to know how much it would have cost if we had been unfortunate enough to win. The cost of the Olympics is quite alarming. Can we really afford another white elephant, at a time when we need to rebalance the books after a decade of Labour?

    I thought this government was committed to reducing non-essential public spending, and so cutting the deficit. Apparently I was wrong. I have just joined the TaxPayers’ Alliance because clearly they are still necessary even now the Tories are in office.

  22. Yarnesfromhorsham
    December 4, 2010

    If the FA is not fit for purpose take a look at the LTA

  23. Bob
    December 4, 2010

    I’m sure we would have stood a better chance if Keith Vaz and Peter Mandelson were handling the bid.

    Nice timing by the BBC though. They could have screened their program next week or last year, but no they choose to broadcast just before the vote. I wonder what motivated their timing? I guess we’ll never know the truth, (etc ed)

  24. Alan Douglas
    December 4, 2010

    Well, by banning bribery, we are surely sitting high on our moral horse. Pity the nag is a virtual skeleton, and hardly able to generate any forward motion at all.

    I agree with the poster who said do as the Romans do.

    Not too long ago the only way to get new phone lines in London was to bribe the sales rep who “looked after” the installation engineers. I mean the 1980s.

    Alan Douglas

  25. Anthony Adams
    December 4, 2010

    A Sedgwick- An International Premier League is easily the best idea I’ve heard in this whole affair. A (questionable – ed)and inept FIFA would not know what to do.
    I am amazed that we get all this hand wringing and cries of “Why did we lose?”
    It’s obvious-we didn’t (do and say the right things -ed) and the press aired FIFAs dirty laundry in public. The question is why did we waste money on bidding when nobody has even costed the event to see if we would have made a profit?

  26. Alan Wheatley
    December 4, 2010

    No doubt there are many reason why British innovation has not been followed by commensurate sales success, but if we focus on government I think it is because HMG does not do technology. And the more high the “tech” the less likely government is to be effective because they are not really interested, and they are not interested because they do not understand nor show any inclination to learn. There are plenty of examples.

    The latest big thing for schools is that there should be more teaching of foreign languages, Latin even. This is fine for those with an aptitude for languages, but what about metalwork and woodwork, both of which have an academic side, for those with different aptitudes?

    And then take the roll-out of the next generation of broadband. The government’s stated aim is throughout Britain to have the best broadband connections. But based on what has been planned so far government does not understand the issues and does not have a clue as how best to achieve the objective it has set itself. It does not even seem to have been able to grasp the many studies already undertaken by OFCOM that clearly explain the issues and from which the most effective way forward is obvious. Instead, with Broadband Delivery UK, there is all the makings of money being thrown at a futile exercise. Which brings us back to football, but at least in that case it was not tax payer’s money.

  27. Leo
    December 4, 2010

    We’re (the English) just too politically correct to even mention the truth of what happens out there. Brown envelopes changing hands in large quantities. Simple…

  28. David in Kent
    December 4, 2010

    Having been a salesperson in several countries for most of my career I don’t think insufficient that bribery is often the issue.
    Rather I note the striking lack of respect given to sales people in England. I think that discourages competant and well educated English people from taking up the trade. It also means that within companies the voice of the sales person (who represents the customer) is not listened to.
    This attitude is by no means unique to England but is notably common here.

  29. Nich Starling
    December 4, 2010

    You wrote

    “Why didn’t our bid concentrate on how we would spread the word, sell the tickets and the passion around the globe and make the World Cup relevant for countries without a great football heritage? Why didn’t we offer to harness some of the future huge UK Overseas Aid budget for football related projects in poorer countries as a central part of the bid?”

    Where were you Mr Redwood ? This is exactly what our bid was about. This was made clear in our presentation and was made clear in our “Football United” promise, with the English FA promising to spend as much money as FIFA on football development across the globe.

    It worries me that your can write what you have without actually seeing what we were offering in our bid.

    Reply: On the contrary, the emphasis of our bid team was the “safe bid”, the “best technical bid”, brining footbal back home, coming to a country where all the work had already been done – you should check all the public comments and lobbying messages.

  30. Tim Carpenter, LPUK
    December 4, 2010

    The idea that UK companies are I any way liable for the activities of their own staff, let alone agents abroad is extraterritoralitarian and utterly wrong. It invades the sovereignty of those nations.

    What if an Iranian businessman took a British customer in the UK out for a drink in. London pub? How would we feel if that Iranian businessman was taken to court by the Iranian State? Outrageous, no?

    As such, I agree that common sense and pragmatic approach that what happens on tour, stays on tour and is of no concern nor under the jurisdiction of the UK.

    That the UK thinks it can meddle is a clear example of the dysfunction and institutionalised arrogance and presumption of the State.

  31. Robbo
    December 4, 2010

    The government has far more important things to deal with than bidding for the FIFA World Cup or teaching grandma how to suck (sell) eggs.

    When they have repealed all the spiteful and pointless legislation of the last 13 years, slashed the regulatory burden on business, cut the size of the government by 50%, balanced the budget, set the schools free, genuinely removed the targets burden from the police, turned round health provision (also smothered by taget culture), and sorted out the bust banks, until then it’s just a diversion, or worse, a misdirection.

    Sorry but someone’s got to say it.

  32. Robin Smith
    December 4, 2010

    The term “Sell” is a bit of a stretch here.

    UK knows very well how to seek rents. Evident in its so called service industry in banking. And unearned incomes from land and how ownership.

    But it has forgotten how to produce wealth, making things other people want in exchange and then selling them. The traditional and sustainable way of making a living

    So what?

    Well the whole world cup thing is entirely around seeking special favour without having done anything economically productive. We are experts at this. So what went wrong at the world cup I wonder. Have we even lost that talent too?

  33. Robin Smith
    December 4, 2010

    Oops my apologies, typo in the previous comment:

    The term “Sell” is a bit of a stretch here.

    UK knows very well how to seek rents. Evident in its so called service industry in banking. And unearned incomes from land and home ownership.

    But it has forgotten how to produce wealth, making things other people want in exchange and then selling them. The traditional and sustainable way of making a living

    So what?

    Well the whole world cup thing is entirely around seeking special favour without having done anything economically productive. We are experts at this. So what went wrong at the world cup I wonder. Have we even lost that talent too?

    The term “Sell” is a bit of a stretch here.

    UK knows very well how to seek rents. Evident in its so called service industry in banking. And unearned incomes from land and home ownership.

    But it has forgotten how to produce wealth, that is, making things other people want in exchange and then selling them. The traditional and sustainable way of making a living

    So what?

    Well the whole world cup thing is entirely around seeking special favour having done anything economically productive or proving we are more skilful and industrious. We are experts at this. So what went wrong at the world cup I wonder. Have we even lost that talent too?

  34. Eoin Clarke
    December 4, 2010

    Corporation Tax and a Flat Rate of Income tax, together with NI incetives for employees taking on new staff, would make the UK an attractive place for inward investment. The monopolies and an merger commission could loosen up a bit.

    But the populace with only acquiesce to these methods of wealth creation, provided the state had other redistrubition measures, so that the UK was not a trickle down society.

    Thus, a proper living wage, and a no tax bracket for those under 15K

    Wealth creation is to be celebrated, but only where exploitation of workers through wages and SME bosses bullying… are properly policed.

  35. Kenneth
    December 4, 2010

    I think it is more of a Left wing disease – imposing our culture on others.

    People in other countries do not approve of some of our practices but I doubt if many are trying to impose their standards here. I think it is misguided, patronising, ignorant and costs us money and jobs.

    Trading is as natural as breathing and drinking and as such is a global language. To try to impose conditions from our own perspective, apart from making us look silly, could corrupt the trading process much more than any local practices.

    I applaud you for raising this subject but no doubt you will have noticed how the BBC showed its disapproval for Prince Andrew’s recent comments about overseas trading. This has effectively made this subject taboo…until now, that is! Any MP who is willing to face this kind of opposition should get a medal.

  36. waramess
    December 4, 2010

    Why ponder on the cause of our good fortune; just accept it and rejoice that the taxpayer has been spared the need to financially support a cause for which they might have absolutely no interest.

    Thank you Dave and the rest of the party for a very positive contribution aided and abetted by FIFA, corrupt or otherwise.

    December 4, 2010

    Thanks for including in another section the 2 blogs we made on Thursday afternoon soon after the World Cup bid results. We were keen to get our views across quickly and hoped you might be following up on the business parallels as well as the facts themselves.

    As we said on Thursday Britain/the FA did not do its research homework before tendering, did not ascertain the Client’s major requirement, ignored his recent preferences and history, and allowed themselves (and their loyal public) to be lulled into a sense of false optimism with the help of self-serving media and political interests. When it ended in predictable tears they then turned on everyone else but the management who were directly responsible for the fiasco!

    Overseas businessmen are not necessarily swayed by the ‘Hello’ magazine approach that the British bid typified and the UK media comes out poorly too.
    That our Prime Minister should be led astray so readily underlines the easy-going naivety that hard-headed voters already detect (More on that survey to come next week incidentally).
    In contrast old-stager Mr Putin & his Mr Abramovich played the Russian hand with far greater skill and guile. As you conclude John, Britain has much to learn in dealing with overseas ‘business’ in its various forms.

    Incidentally, for fellow football fans the only sensible, balanced comments we’ve heard since Thursday came at lunchtime today from old hand John Motson on BBC Football Focus.
    Now there’s an idea for Cam Co and others – take heed and take with you some voices of experience!

  38. Keith
    December 4, 2010

    Simon, the Football Association is not ‘a British (English and Welsh) body’. The FA of Wales manages its own affairs and has its own league system, albeit without Cardiff City and Swansea City, in the English Championship, and a number of clubs in the lower leagues, who are allowed for historical reasons to play in the English league pyramid. I think you must be confusing it with cricket where there is an England and Wales Cricket Board. Furthermore there is unlikely to ever be a joint World Cup bid from countries in the UK, because to do so would threaten the cherished independence of the four FAs and their respective national teams. On the other hand Scotland and the Republic of Ireland did launch a (failed) joint bid for the 2008 European Championships.

  39. John Wood
    December 4, 2010

    I thought you would have mentioned the 2010 Bribery Act coing into force in April.

  40. waramess
    December 5, 2010

    I tried to ignore the question of “how do we export more” but it is keeping me awake at night wondering how a good solid right winger could be even encouraging such thoughts.

    The answer of course is that for every mad scheme the government think up they should cost it, reduce taxation by an appropriate amount and then move on, repeating the exercise every time they have a new idea.

    If you will not as a government give the free market a chance how on earth will you know whether it works. Big government is expensive and provides us with nothing other than big egos

  41. edgeplate
    December 5, 2010

    I think you are making too much of the World Cup (you could as well choose the Eurovision Song Contest) which is highly politically loaded, and comparing it to normal commerce. Hosting The World Cup is not offering a product in the normal understanding of the term and the processes by which it’s decided are not the normal decision processes used to buy a product.

    The other mistake is to believe that government can construct a strict and extensive code of ethics which it forces companies to follow wherever they operate and this will produce a workable system applicable to trade in places such as the Far East. Judging from recent events no one believes that the government (certainly the last government) capable of creating a code of ethics which it follows faithfully itself.

    Anyway, before worrying about the moral challenges of selling a product in 21 countries, you need to have a product of interest in 21 countries, so the government has to create the conditions wherein more companies in the UK make such products. The first step should be easy, as it largely consists of getting out of the way and removing disincentives.

  42. VIVID
    December 5, 2010

    Great stuff on here, consistently. Should be part of the national curriculum ;~)

  43. Javelin
    December 5, 2010

    China is a COMMUNIST country. You cannot make profits there. They will let you produce goods cheaply, but not sell goods above cost.

    India is a poor country. Only 10% of people pY tax and that is mainly foreign companies.

    1. Andy
      December 9, 2010

      “China is a COMMUNIST country. You cannot make profits there. They will let you produce goods cheaply, but not sell goods above cost.”

      Ha Ha Ha that’s the funniest thing I have read in ages.

  44. grahams
    December 5, 2010

    “Taking the wider problem of how we export more, there are the questions of whether we make the right cars, machinery and electronic products for developing markets…”

    Leaving FIFA aside, I feel you are a little out of touch on this. The UK does not have any significant car firms or electronics products firms and few large machinery firms (though honourable exceptions, such as Rolls Royce aero engines, BAE defence systems and JCB diggers are great exporters). The same applies to building materials, beer and soft drinks, confectionery, power engineering, wind turbines, nuclear, clothing, footwear, ceramics, batteries, civil aircraft, helicopters, and many others.

    While a few, such as bicycles and cotton, were inevitably lost, this is mainly a result of successive governments’ ludicrously self-important open-door policy to foreign takeovers of major industries. (Which is also costing us many billions in lost tax)

    Decisions about making cars, machinery and electronic products suited to developing countries cannot be taken in this country. We can only hope that decision-makers in New York,Dubai,Geneva, Stuttgart or Paris will design the right products and allot them to their UK branch plants.

    I agree that when in Rome we should do as the Romans. Myriad studies show that corruption holds developing countries back, but we are ill-placed to take a moral lead. The initiative must come from the big industrial powers: the US, China, Japan and Germany. We should encourage them to do the right thing but follow their lead.

  45. Richard Aitkins
    December 5, 2010

    John, you have made a huge error here. It wasn’t a “UK world cup bid”, it was an English bid. Big difference.

    And why are people so obsessed with the term “UK”? Why don’t people say “Britain”? UK is the constitutional status of the country called Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly called “Britain”.

    You mentioned Ireland and China in your articles. Why aren’t they referred to as the “R” and the “PR”, as in the Republic of Ireland and the Peoples Republic of China?

    Sounds pedantic, but how can a state prosper when it doesn’t even know its name?

  46. James Sutherland
    December 5, 2010

    I too disagreed with the introduction of UK laws attempting to govern conduct in foreign countries: fundamentally, UK laws and customs should apply within, and stop at, the UK’s border. Trying to reach literally beyond UK jurisdiction is a dangerous precedent. What next – prohibit UK citizens from visiting a Dutch “coffee shop” or a (licensed and legitimate) brothel in one of the parts of Nevada or Australia which allow them? Getting medical treatment overseas that the NHS doesn’t cover here?

    While on the subject of UK legislative failings, I am very cold now … I just discovered the hard way that my new “condensing” boiler is, unlike the unit it replaced, prone to failure in cold weather – but the new and failure-prone variety is now mandated by law, because on paper it’s much more efficient. (Only on paper: real-world use, of course, wipes out most of the ‘savings’.) The much-advertised “same day” repair service, meanwhile, actually plans to come some time on Monday having been called on Friday, because apparently this comes as a shock to this company every year it happens so they don’t staff or schedule accordingly.

    The story about our trade with Ireland compared to China and India is disappointing, but not surprising; I have always found the attitudes of Europhiles to be remarkably insular, more about erecting trade barriers with the rest of the world and looking inwards within the continent than about global trade and relationships.

    1. alan jutson
      December 6, 2010

      James Sutherland

      Your experience with Condensing Boilers is duplicated by a number of friends of ours.

      One has failed 26 times, another 7 times, both boiler owners have worked in the building industry for many years as have I, they thought they had gone for the most reliable make available at the time.

      Boiler manufacturers will admit that the early models had a few problems, but I await further information before I jump aboard. Meanwhile our 30 year old floor standing 125,000 bthu Kingfisher boiler still going strong powering our 25 double radiators, its easy to service and reasonably ecconomic.

      1. Kenneth
        December 6, 2010

        Thank goodness I found the boiler and radiator blog. I thought for a minute I was in the wrong place.

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