Jealousy is a mean minded emotion. There is too much of it about in the UK debate. So many participants think the answer to our problems is to find people with more, and take it off them.
Many politicians belong to this school of thought. Councillors usually put up the Council Tax. When the government makes it worthwhile for them to keep the Tax down – or difficult for them to put it up – they usually raid us in other ways. Putting up car parking and other fees and charges is often popular with those who rule locally.
National politicians spent many hours devising new taxes, and seeking to identify ways old taxes can bring in more money.
A country which is too preoccupied with distributing wealth will find it more difficult to create it. The government says it wants to lead an industrial revival. Who are the role models to lead it? Why should they make things here? Will the government start buying more UK made product? Will the successful be praised and rewarded, or will they just face demands to pay more tax?
The UK seems to quite like Richard Branson, and James Dyson. Most other successful business people keep a low profile, fearing the jealousy their incomes may arouse. If government sets a tone of hostility to financial success, it makes a revival of manufacturing a bit more difficult.
If the UK government decides to buy its trains from Germany, and to import cars from around the world, it does not send out a great message that is better made in Britain. If the BBC transports its guests in Mercedes rather than UK made cars, it is not doing its bit for a UK manufacturing revival. I do not imagine for one moment that German Ministers or guests of German broadcasting are chauffered around in Jaguars made in Birmingham. They would naturally go by Mercedes. So do people here.
If the government truly wants a manufacturing revival it needs to get on with helping make it cheaper and better to make things in Britain. The delayed deregulation initiative started with shops, not factories. It semed to reflect continuing preoccupations with distributing the fruits of enterprise rather than concentrating on making the fruits.
When we send overseas aid abroad we often buy products made overseas to send to the recipients. There is no drive in much of the UK to buy British product, to demand British product, to make it easier to make things in the UK or to be proud of those who do make things. Germany has an engineering and manufacturing culture, and buys much of its own product.
The Uk puts dear energy before helping manufacturing. It shows more enthusiasm for big increases in regulation, than trying to find the right balance that yields more sensibly regulated industry here at home. If government really wants a manufacturing led revival, it needs to be a bigger and more informed customer of UK industry instead of buying so much from abroad. It needs to look again at the regulatory regimes and dear energy. It needs to enthuse our schools and Colleges with more passion for manufacturing.
In many countries Ministers have their national flags in their rooms or on display close by. In the UK this is thought to be too nationalistic, to be in bad taste. If any Minister did break the unwritten rule, the flag in his room would probably have “Made in China” on it.