Free enterprise brings us choice and progress

Many of the things we enjoy have come from competition and choice, from free enterprise. Post war living standards rose as tvs, fridges, washing machines and cars became affordable for the many instead of being the luxuries of the few. This century has seen digital technology transform lives. It has placed a mobile phone in most pockets and handbags, equipped the many with an easy to work camera and allowed a whole new world of communication and entertainment to be available instantly any time, any day.

These breakthroughs came from entrepreneurs and private sector companies. Often the challengers had to combat unhelpful regulations and protective old model established companies. In recent years digital business models have dramatically changed  advertising, the media, agency businesses and retail, and are going on to change finance and other services.

The successful countries which do most to promote living standards and welfare of their people are the ones who not only understand this but do most to allow free enterprise to flourish. Lower taxes, sensible regulations, a strong rule of law which protects challengers as well as the established businesses, and a climate which encourages talent and enterprise friendly education all help. In future blogs I am going to explore how the UK can provide more opportunity for enterprise to flourish and living standards to rise.

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  1. Mark B
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Two of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century was Hire Purchase and the humble credit card. Not everyone could afford that which our kind host mentions. Using these innovations allowed ordinary folk to purchase something and pay it off over time. This helped to create demand and so jobs.

    Today we have government that thinks it can do the same. It is not new but, like PFI, government needs to borrow and spend wisely. People here say that an issuer of a fiat currency cannot go broke. I disagree. If you continue to create more and more money you eventually end up with a situation of runaway inflation and a currency that is not worth the paper it is printed on. It becomes worthless and therefore loses its purpose – ie broke.

    Our kind host is right to point out ‘choice’ as an important factor in a capitalist economy. Choice is a Conservative Thatcherite word. Choice equates to power. Power to choose what you want rather than that which is given to you. As may here I am sure agree, we as individuals tend to make better choices than those of the State and, when we get them wrong, we not only are quick to learn from them and to correct them, but they are localised. The power of choice has indeed spurred on innovation, lowered costs, and increased quality. It has buyenlarge improved our world.

    Where government has used its credit card / hire purchase, it has provided overpriced unwanted products and / or services with poor quality. As I keep saying. When it comes to government, ‘Less is more’.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      The government has killed real freedom and choice for most people in health care and education and rigged other markets very damagingly like transport, the BBC, energy, housing, planning ….

      • Leaver
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

        Apologies, Lifelogic, I have to call you out on an error. You claimed CO2 is ‘clean’ – by which I assume you mean it does not warm the planet. CO2 is 95% of the Venusian atmosphere. Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, despite being further away from the sun than Mercury. Indeed cameras cannot even penetrate its atmosphere. Again I am not arguing the human race is going to be wiped out any time soon, but I have to call this out. It really is flat earth stuff and does you no favours. Politics is politics. But science is just science.

        • NickC
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          Leaver, You claim CO2 warms the planet. It does not – CO2 originates no heat energy at all. What the CO2 molecule does is absorb IR (predominantly emitted in the upward direction from the earth) and then re-emits that IR in random directions. The CO2 thereby acts as an insulator, not a heat source. And only in 3 main bands, not the entire IR spectrum.

          Moreover, even at pre-industrial levels of CO2, the lower level of the atmosphere (< 1 mile) is saturated for these bands. That means the only effect of increasing CO2 is to increase the height at which the CO2 finally emits IR to space, thereby achieving the energy balance at a slightly elevated temperature – think of it as a slightly thicker blanket.

          • Leaver
            Posted January 4, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            Agreed. CO2 is an insulator and has a warming effect on the planet. I do not mean to suggest it is an actual source of heat. But thank you for the detailed explanation. Genuinely enlightening. Thank you.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted January 4, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

            Indeed. By clean I mean it is harmless, odourless, breathed out with every breath and is indeed an important food that enhances plant, crop and tree growth. A little more atmospheric C02 is probably, on balance, a net benefit.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      There is much that is very good about private enterprise. However, it has one big flaw, and that is human nature with its vices, including greed and dishonesty.

      Where profit is paramount it may be tempting, say, to fit cheaper, flammable cladding to a building than that specified by the designer and approved by planning control, or to use the fact that airworthiness is now a matter of self-certification to sign off that an anti stall system with only one sensor is safe.

      The adverse consequences are not always so dramatic, but may still add up to be expensive, e.g. by private contractors fly-tipping waste materials rather than paying to dispose of them properly.

      • jerry
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        @MiC; Much the same problems exist(ed) in Command Economies too.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

          Far, far worse in command economies. The protection is that you have the right to take your custom elsewhere. If you do not light Waitrose you go to Tesco or Sainsburys. So long as monopolies duopolies are well controlled well greed is not a problem – indeed it can be a force for good.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          Who is proposing a command economy?

          Disasters indeed occurred in the Soviet Union, but generally for other reasons, such as authoritarian pressure pushing safety limits.,

      • agricola
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Governments job is to control and prevent the vices you speak of. I agree that self certification should not exist where public safety is concerned. This is why we have a CAA and its federal equivalent in the USA where flying is concerned . I wonder how important stall warning is because every aircraft has stalling data relative to its configuration and those flying it should be aware of such information. On many aircraft you can physically sense it before it occurs, but possibly not all. More worrying is how the recent glitch in computer control at Boeing got past the FAA in the USA.

        Social problems like fly tipping are at first down to social responsibility and education. After that it is down to sanction Penalties should be a deterrent as should the detection rate. The incentive is no doubt a combination of getting the job and the margin the contractor is left with. Getting caught should be a powerful disincentive.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          There are laws against theft, and we have a police force, but it still happens.

          The only sure way to stop it is to remove the motive.

          • Anonymous
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

            Is that by confiscation of all property or is it by redistribution of all wealth ?

            Not even total equality will stop theft. So how do we remove motive ?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          It got past the FAA, perhaps because the FAA’s job has been outsourced in large measure to Boeing people, in accordance with political doctrine?

      • Stred
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        It is illegal to fit flammable materials when other is specified and not allowed under regulations. The first part of the report on Grenfell drew attention to poor design. The building work was inspected by the council. Wait for the full report.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          Grenville was almost entirely the fault of the state sector. Not really anyneed to wait for the full report. The state sector owned the building, clad it in flammable material (at large expense, for green crap reasons, to save virtually nothing in energy), they were in control of the building regulations, fire regulations and the fire inspection regime. The fire officers failed to put the initial fire out completely and then had incompetent senior fire officers who idiotically told people to stay put long, long, long after it was very clear to almost anyone sensible (even just watching tv for a minute) that they should be told to try to leave.

          It seems the “experts” were “trained” into this group think idiocy and unwilling to think for themselves in real time, so they stuck to their idiotic rule book.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          Plenty of things which are illegal still happen, e.g. trying to prorogue Parliament for a spurious reason.

          • Anonymous
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

            I see that the progressive Labour party look as though they are about to elect another female leader.

            Are they sexist as well as racist ?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

            What do you mean “another”?

            She would be a first.

            Polls of members suggest Starmer anyway.

      • NickC
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Martin said: “… private enterprise … has one big flaw, and that is human nature with its vices …”.

        Isn’t government run by human beings, then?

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          Martin is flawed in his thinking and tars the private enterprise sector with a big brush of his personal belief without evidence or example of every private entrepreneur having a vice. The tone implies that only entrepreneurs have vices and are corrupt. As for profit motive fitting poor quality cladding – was it the private profit sector that passed this cladding as suitable for use in the uk or not? Wasn’t the Grenfell owner the public sector? The Fire Brigade and their insufficiently updated policies,even following similar fires, was the public not profit sector.

          It is choice that keeps sector moving forward, changing or dying, it is monopolies that strangle evolution of product and service, complacent Managers who have no profit concerns to affect their personal performance.

          We’re excited to hear of Dominic Cummings change of gear, if he wants freely supplied suggestions for his new department groups to consider he should ask entrepreneurs.

    • BOF
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Excellent comment Mark B. And competition provides choice, brings down prices and improves standards.

      • jerry
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        @BOF; It doesn’t always, many products become flimsy, with built in obsolescence, even if they are all singing and dancing, whilst competition reduces as by-outs, mergers and bankruptcies take place due to the ever lowering factory gate price.

        • BOF
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          @jerry: There is some truth in that. Consumers are guilty if they accept mediocrity. It is also true that, by and large, you get what you pay for.

          • Dennis
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

            It doesn’t matter how much you pay you still can get junk.

        • agricola
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          Everything you mention comes down to natural selection. Competition is not just a matter of price. There are many factors to be taken into account when making a buying selection.

          • jerry
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            @agricola; I take it you are referring to those who work in the wholesale buying departments of the big retailers or independent buying groups, not the average pleb buying in ones and twos?…

  2. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Get the government out of the EU properly would be a start.

    • glen cullen
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      now your talking real freedom of choice

  3. Everhopeful
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    But when luxury goods become “democratised” they are tatty and useless and the customer is treated with great disdain, if not with fraudulent trickery.
    I would rather have a proper GP and dentist, red box public telephones, properly maintained in a safe environment ( as was the case at one time) than any stupid mobile.
    What is the point of all these shoddy items if we are not safe and happy?
    = PROFIT for some. DEBT for others. It was not meant to be like this!
    We have all been forced to sell our birthrights for a mess of potage.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      What a silly churlish post. I assume you would have joined the Luddites.

      • jerry
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        @Ian Wragg, What a silly churlish post… It is you who appears to be the Luddite, nothing should change how Capitalism works, the Free Market is and will always be King!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      I agree on the doctor and dentist. But give me a mobile over a red phone box any day. They always seemed to stink of urine, often did not work, cost a fortune in small change, and also were often occupied. So you had to wait for a long time listening to someone’s often long and inane conversation. Also receiving calls was rather difficult to arrange.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        The main problem with phone calls now is having to listen to a computer talking at you and ordering you to press buttons for ages before you ever get through to anyone.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Though I do remember once meeting a very nice girlfriend while queuing for a red phone box. Though mobiles have sorted this issue too I understand.

        • Stred
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          Hopefully, she hadn’t left her card in it.

          • Anonymous
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

            I’d forgotten those days. Very funny !

      • agricola
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Whether things work for the general good is often a matter of the society you live in. It is twenty years since I was last in Japan. A country where you could leave your briefcase on a street corner and return to it two hours later. Rather than our much loved red phone boxes they had phones on small fruit type machines outside many of the shops for public use. None got vandalised unlike our red boxes, but that was down to being in a totally different culture. I assume that mobiles have seen off the small machines I mention, but I imagine you can still leave your briefcase for a few hours. Having said all the above I would still find it difficult to live in Japanese society as a whole.

        • Dennis
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          Yes indeed – I took off my sunglasses onto a ledge to take a photo in Japan 20 years ago and walked off without them. Two hours later I returned and they were still there.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

          Similar experience for me in that era. I was pleasantly surprised to have explained that possessions would be perfectly safe if put down in a shop, a restaurant, a bus, train- whatever. Honesty at a remarkable level. A major talking point and concern of colleagues in Tokyo was the appearance of 3 or 4 cardboard-box homeless near stations. Disbelief and anxiety that anybody would need to live like that. ‘Salarymen’ had not been hit by downturn in the family corporates at that stage.

    • oldtimer
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Mobile phones are arguably among the greatest hand tools to be invented since the original flint knife of early man.

      • jerry
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        @oldtimer; Cough! Sorry but the mobile phone might have been, but the all encompassing hand-held device they have morphed into will likely cause the gradual death (or enslavement) of mankind – there are already serious psychological and physiological problems being caused by them, especially to children. The insecure method most users and/or devices use to exchange previously secured data direct to its recipient is also threat to any economy or nation – the alleged interference by one nation into other’s election is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

        • Mr D R G Andrews
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

          The original flint knife in the wrong hands would, no doubt, have been used to terrorise, enslave and cause serious psychological harm to others, especially young children, as well as to skin a rabbit or other necessary food source.

          • jerry
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

            Mr Andrews, funny you talk about knives, have you tried buying them lately, especially if you look under 25…

            The problem is not the knife, mobile phone or what ever, they are innate object, it is how humans choose to use them that that becomes the issue.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. They are the electronic equivalent of the Swiss Army knife. Coupled with Apps, they can be leveraged to make our lives better and easier. For example. If I wanted to go to a restaurant, all I would have to do is search for the nearest restaurant, press the call button, and make my reservation. Then I could arrange, either by minicab or a transport App to get me there. And so on. A true marvel.

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

          You can even order your potential lover a surprise plate of chips in Weatherspoons – delivered to her table !

    • SM
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      But if you live under a system of government that permits choice, you can select a product or service that suits you, and should the provider fail you, you can simply switch to another.

      Here in S Africa, the national electricity supplier (Eskom) used to be regarded as a global example of a well-managed business, but the (welcome) ditching of apartheid was also accompanied by a Communist-based theory of government. This also coincided with the development of renewable energy, which is obviously very useful in a country where there is plenty of sun and wind.

      Today, S Africa suffers severely from blackouts, affecting industry and every other aspect of modern life, but because of the political and financial corruption that came with hyper-State control, Eskom is NOT PERMITTED to turn to renewable energy sources. Today, it must continue to rely on intermittent and polluting coal because of the commitment to Mining Unions and corrupt crony mining deals that involved senior Ministers.

      Those of us who are fortunate enough can install sufficient solar panels to satisfy our domestic needs, while some businesses will turn to diesel-powered generators for back-up, but as ever, it is the poor who suffer.

      (In the interests of brevity, I have necessarily simplified the description of the current situation).

      • NickC
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        SM, A properly run coal-fired electricity generation plant is reliable and not intermittent as you falsely claim. Wind and Solar are intermittent by definition.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      To be fair (contradicting my earlier post on credit, if published) my mobile phone has replaced post, telephone, camera, video camera, encyclopaedias, books, newspapers, mirror, maps, diary, travel timetables, ticketing, banking, box office, TV, torch …

      (Online shopping deals mean that a mobile pays for itself many times over.)

      Not only that, it does all of those things much better and the environmental savings are utterly, utterly HUGE ! Getting more whilst consuming fewer real resources.

      Mobile technology has only contributed to real world decline in that its compensatory effect has made us more relaxed about it. Otherwise we’d be out protesting by now.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        and one day that drawer with generations of mobiles will be dealt with. Along with my vast collection of vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, photo albums, books I hang on to for sometimes years before taking to charity shops. Then there are cables that were essential to make something work or connect to what? Nobody wanted the boxes of family cameras.

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

          Nobody wanted the photos either !

          • Fred H
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

            Anon – -if you can’t identify the people who died before you were born, they usually hold little interest! However when some of the stuff reaches Fahrenheit 451 the result might hold more interest.

    Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Ironically the immediacy and convenience offered by new forms of visual, connective and communications technology will eventually be used against us to monitor and oppress us. This is happening now, in many countries around the world. It will happen here, in the UK

    I believe the next 20 years will see the abolition of cash payments as governments scramble to crush our ability to break free from their grasp and monetise our more of our income to finance political spending. All economic transactions will be recorded and filtered through a State owned central data base. Monitoring will become routine

    In the arena of automotive we will see the emergence of in-car driver monitoring (eye-tracking) of both driver and passengers and facial recognition. Moreover vehicle to vehicle communication will become common place. Monitoring of each and every vehicle (time, place, from and to) will become routine.

    technology as the capacity to improve our lives and extend our freedoms. meanwhile, governments see this technology as both a threat to the status quo and an opportunity to monitor our every single move

    The TV revolution of the last 30 years as seen the main source of entertainment and information become a weapon of propaganda for the State and its associated outriders such as the BBC and the identity obsessed advertising agency

    I believe at some point when governments step over the line, which they will do (such an opportunity to monitor and control is never wasted), millions of people will revert to a ‘state of being’ in which technology is relegated to prevent invasion of privacy abuses by government

      Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      ‘technology has’

  5. Everhopeful
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Satellites being put up at vast rate are posing a huge threat to astronomy.
    And who knows what damage they will cause to the planet.
    Regulations? Any common sense at all?
    Not likely…not where profit is involved.
    Enclose the planet in satellites to save it??

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Satellites aren’t posing any threat to astronomy at all, on the contrary several new telescopes are going to be satellite-based.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        That’s not what the astronomers are saying!

    • hefner
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      What do you read to come up with such stories?

  6. Andy
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I don’t disagree with the thrust of what you say. The trouble is that Brexiteers in particular have a hatred of red tape without ever being able to say which red tape you hate and why.

    If there are bad regulations they should be removed. But regulation exists for a reason. To protect people and the planet. That is why it is there. And most regulation is not bad.

    Let me give you an example. Window blinds. Boring eh? Anyone who has bought window blinds in the last 10 years will know they now come with a funny cord that snaps in two when subjected to excess weight. These cords are undoubtedly more expensive than regular cords they cost manufacturers and consumers. So why do we have them? Regulation. Your hated red tape. So why not scrap it? Well the regulation was introduced in the first place after a number of young children managed to get themselves caught in old fashioned blind cords – and some of those kids died. Now I think that the blind cord regulation is a good bit of red tape – because kids don’t die in window blind cords anymore. Maybe some of you contributors disagree.

    And the trouble is that behind every bit of regulation you will find similar stories of why it is there. And it turns out when it’s looked into – like David Cameron did – that most regulation is actually good.

    So sure, scrap outdated and unneeded regulations. But remember that regulation keeps people safe and that much of it is perfectly sensible.

    • Simeon
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Non-lethal cords are obviously a good thing. Regulation was not necessary to achieve this. Manufacturers of window blinds could manufacture non-lethal window blinds and advertise them as such. Problem solved efficiently and cheaply, and without treating adults like children.

      Some regulation is not intrinsically bad, but the devil is in the unforseen consequences of such, or the only too apparent cost. Most regulation is in fact unnecessary. Perhaps not all, but then perhaps you can find an example of regulation that really is neccesary? The example you cite isn’t.

      • Andy
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Well – before the regulation was introduced children used to die in window blind cords. And now they don’t. At least not in the new ones. I think that suggests that the regulation is working. But perhaps you should argue your case with someone whose child died in a blind cord before the regulation was introduced. Perhaps you can video the meeting and post it for us all to watch?

        • Simeon
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          I am reminded of why I generally give you a wide berth. You certainly could never be accused of having a winning personality.

          Your attempt to justify regulation in this instance is transparently feeble. Not all events can be predicted. Many consequences are unintended. Old style blind cords were not designed to kill unsuspecting children. Perhaps the old style blind cords were not sufficiently tested prior to going to market, and maybe the problem could have been anticipated. But I can assure you that regulations on blind cords were only introduced after children died. You have failed to show what regulations in this instance achieved that responsible, and, more pertinently, ambitious manufacturers couldn’t otherwise achieve. By all means get back to me when (if?) you have a properly reasoned argument to advance.

    • Pud
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      The blind cord safety device that Andy describes is actually a case of unnecessary regulation. My office was recently fitted with new blinds, complete with the safety device, which has no benefit in a child-free environment and occasionally is inconvenient if someone tugs a cord too hard, causing it to separate. A house with no children has no need of the safety device. In a house where children live or visit there are other ways to make the cord safe e.g. fit a hook to the wall to attach it to above child reach instead of letting it hang to floor level.

      • Andy
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        A house – or office – with no children today can quite easily become a house or playroom with children in future.

        And the elderly couple – happy to save 2p on dangerous window blinds today -become the unwitting killers of the 18 month old who moves into the house with his unsuspecting parents in 10 years time. And why should parents expect that a cord from blinds could kill?

        The fact is that good regulation is put in place to protect people. And the people it protects includes those of you who are sceptical about its benefits. It is very easy to dismiss everything as pointless nonsense – until, of course, it is your child or grandchild that is dead.

        • Pud
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          You are suggesting that child safety features are needed in case a child enters a building in a decade’s time. Perhaps every set of stairs (including offices, barracks, lighthouses etc.) should be fitted with stairgates, after all, who knows when a child might be present in future?

        • Fred H
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

          I doubt I’ve ever come across someone like you with a talent (?) for finding any way to insult and denigrate the elderly. It is actually much more likely that the older and wiser, being much more aware of risk taking of the younger, ignorant generation, who would not allow that to occur. But then why do I bother to correct the uncorrectable.

    • Fishknife
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Widow blind cords. A prime example of where a caring community shoots itself in the foot.
      What is the unintended consequence of moving the responsibility for the safety of your child to a manufacturer?
      a). You fail to recognise a danger to your child.
      b). Your child fails to recognise the danger to itself.
      c). You miss out on the opportunity to instill a little discipline and set a boundary.
      d). You miss out on the opportunity of dialogue with the infant, not in a negative sense of draconian overlord, but to teach that there are consequences, some of them unpleasant.

      Over regulation leads to people putting their dog in the microwave to dry after a shampoo.

      • Andy
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        No. Stupidly leads to a person putting their dog in a microwave. I for one have never doubted that the world is full of stupid people. We would probably not have either the current government, nor Trump, nor Brexit if it were not.

        Though kudos to you for trying to argue that products which kill children are a good thing. Maybe you should put that in an election manifesto – see how you get on?

        • Alan Joyce
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          Dear Mr. Redwood,


          “I for one have never doubted that the world is full of stupid people. We would probably not have either the current government, nor Trump, nor Brexit if it were not.”

          Out of your ‘own mouth’ you confirm what I’m sure many of us are thinking.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

            Andy concurs with what millions of others are thinking,

    • Edward2
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      You have a poor memory for a youngster Andy.
      You repeatedly claim you have never had any responses to your question about what red tape would you like to see removed.
      Yet you have had many such responses.

      • Andy
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        The only responses I have ever had is free movement and VAT on tampons. Which is a strange issue for you all to be so irate about as you are mostly elderly men. Perhaps there is a use for women’s sanitary products that I don’t yet know about?

        Reply Try reading the long lists produced here on various occasions

        • Edward2
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Not irate at all Andy.
          Just surprised that you really don’t remember the lists of red tape that could be eliminated or at least made less complex that people have given you.

        • a-tracy
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          You are telling fibs Andy, or you don’t go back to your posts to read the replies.

          I’ll give you one minor red tape annoyance – everyone knows the law relating to NO smoking in work vehicles yet you have to provide stickers in every vehicle or hire vehicle, the obligation was never put onto the vehicle manufactures, these stickers peel off with regular cleaning causing the business owner to have to do regular checks and replacements, now there are queries over vaping in work vehicles is it allowed or not? If not why not? Is there meant to be a sticker purchased or not? Can the driver be fined or not?

          Major red tape – vehicle emissions causing many more mechanical problems with vehicles such as dpf filter replacements nearly every 70,000 miles, vehicles going into limp mode requiring more breakdown call outs. Manufacturers are just getting away with these problems not being sorted out.

    • agricola
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      If it keeps people safe and saves lives I am with you. However there is a tendency, when human beings are given a function, for them to build on it unnecessarily. I have experienced empire building throughout industry. It has happened with health and safety, very necessary for farmers, fishermen , oil rig workers, and in the sort of design you mention. However it has become excessive, even the Princess Royal drew attention to it but a few days ago. My hobby is full of very necessary procedures and checks to ensure no one gets killed. On the whole it works because it is drilled into us from day one, but we do not have to sit down filling in forms about risk assessment. What we need to do is return to a sensible balance so that the delight of doing something is not overshadowed by form filling.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      ’cause only Remainers love children.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Indeed, but due to the dire virtual state monopolies in healthcare and education innovation in these area is hugely stifled. It is hard to compete again something that is free at the point of use and that you are forced to pay for the competition even if you do not use it. Even if you are far better and more efficient. The BBC is another example as is social (heavily subsidised housing) of unfair competition. Plus the government is rigging the energy markets, banking, transport, cars, planning and much else.

    I see we have another letter from some economist “experts” in the FT today! Rather like the idiotic one Mrs Thatcher received from 364 of them.

    Cut taxes, regulations, go for cheap energy and cut the size of suffocation government and the economy will grow very nicely for sure.

    We need far fewer regulations, far lower taxes, far more freedom and real choice and far less government.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Excellent piece by Matt Ridley in the spectator today he is quite right.

      “We’ve just had the best decade in human history. Seriously
      Little of this made the news, because good news is no news”

    Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    The promotion of products that spew from the innovative and productive sector of our economy is slowly being absorbed by the State.

    The free-market’s become less free if it was ever free at all. We are the market. We have become less free

    TV advertising agencies have now been co-opted by central government. Today, these London based product advertising agencies aren’t promoting products but a form of politics based on identity with the sole intention of warping our perceptions of what the UK is. It is brutally invasive of our personal space, is shameless and reeks of politicisation

    This is happening under a Tory government (May did express a wish to embrace identity politics) but no doubt being promoted by Labour’s client state apparatus

    Johnson can either reject the politicisation of our whole world (the Harman way which imposes her oppressive vision of ‘equality’ over merit) or he’ll suffer the same fate as May

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I have never though of women as being less bright than men. Indeed I have two rather bright sisters and two rather bright daughters. Though it is clear that on average women and men do tend to choose rather different jobs, hobbies, reading and A levels.

    But I was listening to Woman’s Hour yesterday I decided that they and the BBC had set themselves the task of trying to convince the public that women are less bright. One idiot, talking about gender pay, just wanted to quote the annual pay gap without even taking into account the fact that women choose to work fewer hours on average. They were nearly as daft on everything else they discussed too.

    There is no pay gap that is not entirely explained by the work life balance choices the genders take and the subjects and jobs they choose to take and career gaps/work life balance choices they make. If there were an employer who employed only women would have a very big advantage and the market would self correct.

  10. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    If not free enterprise the authoritarianism.

    Having someone who thinks they know best mandating what we produce and spend our money on does not appeal.

    The left should, finally, pay heed.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      then authoritarianism

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Indeed someone who think they know best but know nothing about the people or businesses they are making decisions for and is spending tax payers money so really does not care what price he pays or what value (if any) he obtains.

      In many/most cases (such as energy) we have ministers making these decision who do not even have any ability or qualification in science, energy economics or energy engineering.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      The problem for us started during the Second World War. Farms and farmers, along with all means of war production, had to be brought under state control. This was effective but, I believe it left a legacy with our Civil Serpents and MP’s that it was their planning and brilliance that won the war and they were now going to win the peace. The first such sign was the NHS.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        There was also a general belief that socialism was inevitable even amongst Churchill’s circle.The Diary of Ivan Maisky,the gregarious and popular Soviet ambassador at the time, published a couple of years ago – to critical acclaim,provides fascinating insight into the thinking of Britain’s political,social and cultural elites of the time.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    It can never be certain that terror offenders who attend deradicalisation programmes have been “cured” says psychologist Christopher Dean on radio 4 just now.

    Well that is surely blindingly obvious to almost anyone. Given that just one terrorist might well manage to murder as many as perhaps 500 people in a single incident (such as a bomb on an aircraft) can we really afford to let them out at all? Let alone let them out without even any assessment being done.

    The usual new year discussion about train fare increases today. We are always being told by BBC types (wrongly when all is properly considered track, staff, stations, connecting journeys) how very energy saving & environmental trains are. If they are so efficient why do they cost so much more than a car? About £1 a mile it seems in many cases when a car can take seven people for about 10p a mile. So 70 times more expensive! Or ten times if only one in the car.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      In a nutshell, the Permanent Way, the signalling installations, the station facilities, the rolling stock, the reliance on generally old steam engines and the very doubtful government lead move to road haulage (Marples) and then Beeching cuts dealt, however badly, with investment neglect existing perhaps 2 decades prior to the WW2. At end of the war these problems remained for far too many years resulting in major reworking of everything that had been relied on before. Catch up is taking place but not without hurdles and criticism along the way.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        By which time in the smallish UK driver less cars will have largely taken over. Other than on a few intercity and commuting routes.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          the routes I use have longer trains than previously, gradually have added services, but are still heaving to the point where it is difficult to get a seat. So, without the trains you think the roads (just a long traffic jam currently) can cope with all these rail passengers one per small driverless car? And on arrival at destination you think they can park, or will they make their way empty to a large carpark, to be summoned when required?

  12. Norman
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    “Choice and progress”, Sir John, are indeed fundamental attributes of freedom. If you visit a communist country, you will notice immediately what freedom is – it will be conspicuous by its absence. The Chinese and North Korean peoples have some limited material choice, but not ideologically. Anyone can see, in terms of history and geography, the effects of this in religion, also. We can also see how coercive alarmism and political correctness can be destructively misused.
    In countries like ours, freedom is based on the respectful tolerance of others, as expressed in the two great commandments: ‘to love God, and to love your neighbour as yourself’ (referenced back to the Ten Commandments, as given to Moses, and fulfilled in Christ): “Therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). If we do not re-learn this, nothing else will work – however clever we are as a society. Some will say it starts with education or the Churc: I’d prefer to say, no, it starts with each one of us – perhaps discovering afresh ‘the ancient paths’ (Jeremiah 18:15). Mercifully, we still have a choice – but for how much longer?

  13. Kevin
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    How are the above ambitions affected by the following:
    1) Art. 184 of the legally binding Withdrawal Agreeement (“WA”), which imposes an obligation on the UK to use “best endeavours, in good faith” to negotiate the agreements referred to in the Political Declaration (“PD”);
    2) Clause 77 of the PD, which reads in part: “[T]he future relationship must…[encompass] robust commitments to ensure a level playing field…. To that end the parties should uphold the common high standards applicable in the [EU] and the [UK] at the end of the transition period [in various areas]” (emphasis added);
    3) Art. 127 of the WA, which gives the EU legislative power over the UK up to the end of the transition period; and,
    4) Art. 174 of the WA, which gives the EU’s court the power to issue binding rulings where a dispute arising under the WA, “raises a question of interpretation of a concept of [EU] law, [or of]…a provision of [EU] law referred to in this Agreement”?
    In other words, if I understand this correctly, point 1 obliges us to use “best endeavours” to carry out point 2, point 3 allows the EU to write the rules for point 2, and point 4 allows the ECJ to interpret those rules, at least where a concept of EU law may be involved.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      It is the very fact that we are using ‘their’ court still to do all the arbitrating that wrangles me. We should have demanded that all dispute be settled by an independent third party. What idiot(s) agreed to all this ?

    Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    When the Tory party and indeed this government supports promoting free speech, individual liberty AND free enterprise then we’ll know they’ve re-embraced those values and principles that Margaret Thatcher fought for all her life. Until that happens your party is not the party that Thatcher led to multiple victories that defined a nation.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Indeed and even Thatcher still failed to cut the state sector down to size or to get any real and fair competition in health care, education, banking or energy. She closed many grammar schools too, buried us further into the EU and even fell for the climate alarmist religion. She also appointed the dire John Major as Chancellor who then took us into the ERM against the wise advice or her sound economic adviser who had by then resigned!

  15. margaret howard
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink


    ” In future blogs I am going to explore how the UK can provide more opportunity for enterprise to flourish and living standards to rise.”

    The good news is that new opportunities are already on the way.

    The Daily Express today paints a very upbeat picture of the UK’s longer term prospects, saying the economy will “boom” in the next decade – powered by working people over the age of 65.

    The paper says official figures suggest people in their 60s will take up more than half of all new jobs created by 2030.

    So we oldies can look forward to more years toiling at the coal face instead of enjoying a few years of peace and quiet with long walks in the countryside or seeing a big of the wider world. Aren’t we lucky.

    Reply Very sour comment. Older people will be able to work, not made to work

    • Fred H
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      mh – – you ignore the fact that many over 65s WISH to work due to the effect retiring from a lifetime of work can have. Many ‘work’ looking after grandchildren thus helping their mothers (usually) to return to work. Also vast numbers of others volunteer for social or heritage work unpaid. I assume your ‘toiling at the coal face’ is a bit tongue in cheek. Successive governments have tried to improve the financial plight experienced by OAPs who, for whatever reason, are not adequately provided for. ‘Coal mining and metal bashing’ are industries which did much harm to the wellbeing of the workforce.

    • Peter
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      It is understandable that many – particularly women – might be unhappy that, having planned retirement around one age, now find their state pension will not be available until years later.

      They may need to work to avoid penury.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – I won’t get my state pension until 67 now.

  16. Newmania
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    This vanilla flavoured post expresses sentiments anyone right of Corbyn would more or less agree with, but the modern entrepreneur is not an elderly socially conservative Brexit voter making widgets and has good reason to dislike this government.
    1 It is ,notwithstanding gaseous expression of good intention, the most protectionist government of our lifetimes by a long way
    2 It has diminished the attractiveness of the UK as a place to invests in by making the UK the worst location in Europe for European trade .
    3 It has expressed an intention to support lame duck sectors by supporting manufacturing agriculture and other politically strategic sectors it has itself been responsible for undermining
    4 It has no interest or understanding on the high tech IT finance and other graduate based high end exports that are the future and is overwhelmingly opposed by everyone in each of these industries
    5 It is intend on being a high borrowing big spending highly regulating government placing today’s headline above tomorrows prosperity at every turn

    Post Brexit Britain should no be taxing the South to placate the North , throwing public money at failing industry and trying to reinvent a metal; bashing 1950s Britain .
    The problem, is that the people who will build the future voted Remain, this government hates them and has abandoned them for provincial pensioners and Northern decline

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      “Post Brexit Britain should no be taxing the South to placate the North”

      Yes, it should.

      It was the South that flogged off Northern industry for a lunch at Brown’s and a Rolex.

      You could simply not go about outsourcing work, importing cheap labour, closing down factories and not expect there to be consequences.

  17. agricola
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I think I have been saying this for some time. Government should go flat out for the creation of individual and company wealth. It works because it aligns with most peoples ambitions for themselves and their families.The trick that government needs to learn is how to skim off a portion of that creative enterprise without damaging the incentive for its creation. Part of that learning curve for government is not trying to do so much because by and large they do it badly, which means at excessive cost. All of which harms the creative element in society.

    The opposite of the above , which Corbyn et al tried and failed to sell has exactly the opposite effect and has been a proven disaster wherever it has been tried.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      The trick that government needs to learn is how to skim off a portion of that creative enterprise . . .

      No trick needed. Just use a sales tax. When the economy does well, the government does well.

  18. Alec
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    “Free enterprise brings us choice and progress”
    Absolutely correct Mr Redwood. Why then do you constantly call for government interference in the economy? Surely you should constantly push for deregulation and the elimination of harmful policies?

    Reply I constantly call for lower taxes and a stronger private sector

    • Newmania
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      To take one example the area surrounding Cambridge is a network of start ups coming out of the research connected the University, a world wide elite hub serviced by specialist investors and ancillary companies
      Brexit is very bad news in deed and as you know was detested by the academic world but this is what a start up looks like now
      To take another , the UK is now unable to export Insurance capacity into its largest export market . There ware ways around this at considerable costs for large established entities but as start up will not be able to trade from London at all
      Whilst overall stats may not show it initially the long term affect of obliging entrepreneurs to go elsewhere is potentially a cause of structural decline

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        Yes. But we had 200 year companies flogged off by spivs in EU loving London. We should not be relying on start-ups !

        This made people vote Brexit.

    • Newmania
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      ..and more spending..

    • Mark B
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      He stated, ” government interference”, and nothing about taxes.

      What I think he means is :- Why is government settling wage levels and gender and ethnic quotas for private concerns ?

  19. cynic
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    A pity that a Conservative government believes in price fixing by setting a minimum wage. The result will be higher costs for businesses, fewer opportunities for inexperienced youngsters to get training through employment and erosion of wage differentials. If legal minimum wage setting worked why not make everyone rich by setting at a very high rate?

    Reply See the reports from the Low Pay Commission looking at this issue of trade offs between employment numbers and remuneration levels

    • formula57
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Better that employers should pay a wage sufficient for their staff to survive rather than require the taxpayer to also make a contribution via the benefits system. It is good news indeed that the people’s Blue Boris will increase materially the minimum wage.

    • cynic
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Interesting, but not really convincing, especially given their terms of reference.

      Similar findings to other reports and studies in the U S A which were also not convincing. It is not all about wages and employment levels. Price rises, lower profitability affecting viability and investment, recipients having perks cut, shorter holidays, and less sick pay, having to take on extra roles and work more intensively.

      I am sure you are aware of these considerations.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      The Low Pay Commissioners can, (from 2011) claim between £240 and £500 per day for meetings, plus expenses.

      Not bad work if you can get it.

      Out of all those involved with the LPC only one (Martin McTague) has set up and run his own business. Three are from the TUC. One an economist. One from a university and one from the Recruitment Employers Confederation.

  20. Lifelogic
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    You say Free enterprise brings us choice and progress” – indeed it does. Please can we have some Free Enterprise for a change – get the state out of the damn way and stop them rigging the market. The recent minimum wage increase announced the other day for example that makes it illegal for some people to work even if they want to!

    Cull the dire virtual state monopolies in health care, education etc. and open them up to real competition and stop rigging markets like energy, banking, employment, the BBC and transport …… and go for easy hire and fire too.

    Good to hear that AI is now better at breast cancer detection than experts. But how long will it take for the NHS to make use of this? Thus saving many lives and £millions too. They are so poorly run, organised and the incentive structures within the NHS are all wrong.

    • Bob
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      “go for easy hire and fire”

      What do you do with under-performing staff who keep getting pay increases enforced by law?

      It’s an easy win for politicians to increase min wage, it makes them popular with the workers and gives the Chancellor extra income tax. For businesses it increases costs and does nothing for productivity.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:57 am | Permalink


      • a-tracy
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Try training courses often this doesn’t work though sadly. Start disciplinary action which is also counter productive but you need to document problems. Carry on putting up with them being a productivity drag, demotivating other employees, and causing you stress.

        • Bob
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

          “Start disciplinary action”

          How do you discipline someone for being lackluster?

          You tell them you’re not happy with their performance and then you give them another Tory prescribed pay rise.
          They just laugh at you.

    • Robert mcdonald
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      The ability of AI to identify human ailments so accurately must lead to the increased use of high tech to replace human error in diagnosis.. leaving trained medical resources to be more hands on in actually treating patients.

  21. Geoffrey Berg
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I agree and that should be the prime Conservative message. So instead of spending ever more taxpayer money in the public sector (where financial discipline and incentive and therefore efficiency is inherently almost non-existent), can the Conservative Party advocate for a smaller public sector (cutting out functions that are ineffective or counter-productive, even if hypothetically desirable) and increasing the involvement of a genuinely competitive private sector even within publicly funded state activivities?

    • acorn
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      A smaller public sector! It’s been happening for the last ten years but, like the “boiling frogs” that never jump out of the increasingly hotter (austeritised) water; there is a mass lack of cognitive capacity in the indigenous UK population to realize it.

      The UK population has increased by 7% since 2010. UK GDP has increased by a nominal 38%. But the amount the government spends on public services has dropped by 7% 0f GDP. This year that means the public sector is £150 billion (bn) short of where it should be if it was on trend. Now that’s what I call austerity!

      Don’t forget the vast majority of what the government spends ends up in the domestic private sector. Public sector workers spend their wages (£191 bn) in the private sector. The public sector procures (£220 bn) Doctors; drugs and bed-pans etc from the private sector. Not including (£72 bn) buying capital goods from the private sector.

      One day we will have kids coming out of colleges that will actually understand the many streams that are used to inject money into the economy.

      • Geoffrey Berg
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        The public sector is paid for by taxes and taxes reduce the capacity of people to spend money as they wish (rather than as public officials determine, generally inefficiently determine) within the private sector.
        I was a few days ago sent a letter by the NHS for a 15 minute appointment with a technician for a test that really isn’t now needed with a message at the back that missed NHS appointments cost the NHS on average £160. Is that efficient or value for taxpayers’ money? Of course not.
        As for ‘austerity’, that is just a misnomer for an attempt to balance the books, that is to match public spending with public income. All that extra spending in 2010 was all on borrowed money which is in effect deferred taxation, the kind of practice that would lead to bankruptcy and the end to all activity in a private sector enterprise.

        • acorn
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          There again Edward you don’t understand the difference between nominal and real accounting. Perhaps you could start your macroeconomic education by researching the metric “GDP Deflator”. A percentage is always a percentage nominal or real.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

            cash is king.

        • acorn
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          The government always spends long before it taxes. Hence, taxes do not de-facto finance government spending. They are used to keep the banking system liquid before they are vanished into thin air when they get back to the Treasury spreadsheet.

          Likewise, issuing government bonds – Gilts – do not fund government spending either. The government creates and spends its own brand-new monopoly money fresh every day; otherwise, there would be no money out in the economy to buy the Gilt savings bond; or, pay the taxes.

          PS. Don’t tell anyone about this. The populace has to believe that the government’s budget system is the same as any households budget system.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

            I forgot you believe the Magic Moneu Tree economic theory acorn.
            Useful for socialists I suppose.

      • Newmania
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        UK Population has increased from 54.35 m in 1965 to 66.4 m in 2019
        This increase is used to account for an increase in house prices of (let us say) 10 proportionate to wage , even though house building has easily kept up with the population (meaningless though thus may be )
        Of course now the Brexit crew will start denying they ever told such wicked lies but they did and relentlessly
        “Don’t forget the vast majority of what the government spends ends up in the domestic private sector”

        I would also like a privileged pension, a yearly rise above the rest of the country and, generally, a load of cash thrown at me on the basis I spend money on stuff ?
        I`m practically a charity !!!

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

          You know full well it doesn’t need 10 buyers in a market to cause a 10x increase in the price of a single item they all want to buy.

          An auction only needs 2 buyers to drive a price through the roof (no pun intended.)

          There only needs a slight over-demand to make a market steamingly bullish. The knowledge that there is uncontrolled immigration is a deliberate signal sent by government to keep the house pricing ponzi going.

          The last thing the Tories want to do is create a house price correction but it is the one thing they must do if they are to court young voters and have any kind of future.

        • steve
          Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:43 pm | Permalink


          “I would also like a privileged pension, a yearly rise above the rest of the country and, generally, a load of cash thrown at me on the basis I spend money on stuff ? ”

          Don’t we all,

      • Edward2
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Interesting use of statistics there acorn.
        You say the amount spent by government…has fallen by 7%
        Yet since 2000 state spending has risen from £340 billion to over £850 billion.
        Not what I would describe as real austerity.

  22. Fred H
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    A thought provoking article on the BBC today.

    It discusses adding hydrogen 20% to a natural gas supply, thus reducing CO2.
    For me the key point was the possibility eventually of cutting 50% of natural gas we import.

    • Wil Pretty
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      The hydrogen is being produced from electricity. Wind turbines should be required to use their electricity output on site to generate hydrogen, this will overcome their drawback of intermittancy. The hydrogen could then run a turbine to produce electricity when it is needed. This would prevent diesel generators being needed as at present.

      • Stred
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        The Climate Change Committee figures show that hydrogen from electrolysis, ie from electricity from windfarms, is far more expensive than converting natural gas, which is what they propose. This in turn is much more expensive than just using the natural gas to produce electricity. In order to have enough storage to keep the country going for a week or two in the middle of winter with temperatures below zero and no wind in Western Europe, it would be necessary to make s store a huge quantity of hydrogen, just in case every ten years or more. This would be vastly more expensive than just using gas for this short period. The alternative would be to shut down the country for two weeks and stay indoors freezing and eating cold canned food.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        Wil – – so if I follow your point? – -there would be no reduction in gas usage, so no saving on the gas import and dependency?

    • Fred H
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      perhaps phrased badly – ie we import 50% gas of that we use, this could be reduced.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Where is the hydrogen going to come from ? The only sensible way is to slit hydrogen from water, a very energy intensive process.

    • acorn
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Fred, it is theoretically possible to mix hydrogen into methane (Natural Gas) up to 30% in the UK gas system. The problem is Hydrogen is far too bulky; several times more bulky than methane.

      A standard cubic meter of Natural Gas contains circa 716 grams of methane at a NGC minimum (10 kWh) but just 89 grams of H₂ (3 kWh). Storing large quantities of H₂ is a nightmare.

      The gas supply coming into your house gas meter will be at a pressure of 30 to 75 millibar gauge. It would have to be much higher for pure Hydrogen to run a central heating boiler.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks acorn for the additional info —
        The point I wanted to involve others on was the possibility of a 2-fold advantage. 1) use mixed hydrogen with gas in order to reduce reliance/cost on importing the gas. 2) reduce co2 level from existing use of unmixed gas.

  23. hardlyEver
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    It all worked very well until Trumps America came along with the slogan of America First.

  24. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Many of ten small traders in my shops are not VAT registered because they fall under the threshold. They don’t want to register because adding 20% to the cost of their goods removes the competitive edge they have over Tesco etc. Yet they pay 20% VAT on energy. A cafe pays £500 a month for electricity and they cannot claim this VAT back. This is one of the many things closing good businesses down and emptying our High Streets, destroying jobs and enterprise.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink


      With small traders they need to asses themselves whether to be VAT registered or not.

      Where the trader is mainly charging for their own labour then probably they should not register.

      But, on the other hand where they are buying in goods to resell then they would reclaim the input VAT on those goods, but of course charge VAT on the sale.

      It’s really up to them to do the maths…based on the balance of labour vs. materials…

      • Know-Dice
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        assess 🙁

    • steve
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:40 pm | Permalink


      “This is one of the many things closing good businesses down and emptying our High Streets, destroying jobs and enterprise.”

      Not forgetting that many high street shops are useless at best, they won’t hold stock and service these days is lousy.

  25. Irene
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Generalisations can be dangerouss. Nobody would doubt that advances in technology have brought benefits to some people, but they have also had a negative impact on some people. Same applies to choice – some have a choice; some have no choice whatsoever. Some people would willingly pay a higher rate of taxation; some would not.

    Worth reading up on the history of call centres, aka contact centres, and the arrival of outsourcing. Some people love spending hours on their mobile phone in an attempt to speak to a human being – that’s their choice. Some people need a tranquilliser whenever they have no choice but to contact a call centre. Obedience v. obsession? Reliance v. dependence? Subordination v. choice?

    Then, consider the joys that technological advances have brought to fraudsters. A new way of working for them, handed to them on a plate as one of the negative consequences of so-called progress.

  26. Kenneth
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Free enterprise would be great if we could achieve it.

    At the moment too many companies are stifled by red tape.

    The BBC is now pushing the idea that companies will need to start reporting on all sorts of things beyond the balance sheet, such as CO2, employee welfare, ethical, gender balance etc etc.

    If this comes to pass, things will get worse, not better.

    • steve
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:36 pm | Permalink


      “The BBC is now pushing the idea that companies will need to start reporting on all sorts of things beyond the balance sheet, such as CO2, employee welfare, ethical, gender balance etc etc.”

      Is, and has been the case for years so nothing new there, which just goes to show the BBC is still trying to scare people.

      I ignore most of what comes from the BBC.

  27. Iago
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    While the Equality Act 2010 remains on the statute book, I do not see how we can have free enterprise (or freedom). Our society is being utterly twisted and broken by this legislation. An article in today’s conservativewoman by Jane Kelly explains.

  28. Jazz
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Still waiting for the “bonfire of the quangos”.

    However I suspect that they are now so heavily entrenched that even Cummings may baulk at trying to reduce their unelected control on this country.

  29. Derek Henry
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Best way to encourage competition is get rid of the automatic stabilisers and replace them with a transition job for anyone who wants one. A job that moves people from the unemployment cue to the private sector over time.

    It is 2020 it is unethical and immoral to keep a group of people unemployed just to control inflation. Which is what Monetarism does.

    Then we will see which business can compete and the ones who fail.


    • Edward2
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      There are over 700,000 unfilled advertised job vacancies currently in the UK.
      The problem is how you encourage a person to take a job that might make them only marginally better off or in some cases worse off.
      Especially if that job is in London, an hour or three from where they live.

    • Fred H
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Derek . . .. perhaps ‘ job for anyone who wants one’ is important, unless you prefer to remove benefits completely?

  30. Julian
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve felt for a long time that the right of centre has been far too apologetic about the benefits of capitalism – allowing the left to make the word ‘toxic’.
    Balanced regulation of free markets produces the optimum outcome.

  31. forthurst
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    It is certainly true that private companies have transformed our lives for the better. Take Arm Holdings whose chips have been central to the smartphone revolution: a British company, not any more because the Tories sold it off to the Japanese as it wasn’t “strategic”. What do the Tories call a strategic company? Presumably one that is not actively involved in creating the ordinance or delivery systems for killing those brown people in the ME who are not the enemies of the English but are the enemies of other people who are nor English.

    A good example of a private company which provides a service which makes our lives better is that which supplies my water. It is registered in Jersey and its shareholders are not known but the largest is an investor advised by a Wall Street bank. In the bad old days of course before the Tories privatised it, I was forced to pay a local water company whose water was a lot cheaper and whose ‘profits’ were not paid to foreign ‘investors’.

    Germany has a much higher GDP per capita than the UK: cold this have anything to do with the fact that their country is not up for sale (although it is up for gift to the the third world)?

    • Robert mcdonald
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Or COULD the reason Germany has a higher GDP be anything to do with the fact their GDP is based on a currency that grossly undervalues their economy, thanks to the large number of less affluent and productive nations brought into the euro by Germany thus keeping their currency down in value, increasing their competitiveness in the world …. but now being exposed.

      • forthurst
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

        An undervalued currency certainly increases competitiveness but how can it also increase GDP per capita per se? Germany does recognise the crucial importance of its industrial base to its prosperity and consequently it has always set a higher store by scientific and vocation education than we ever have as well as fighting for the retention of its industrial capital. Have the Tories caught up with our post-imperial predicament yet? Its three quarters of a century since we should have started to adjust and yet the education of our brightest and best is more suited to equip a future British Resident of the Empire on which the sun never sets.

        • Robert mcdonald
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          GDP is the monetary value of goods and services and the world market value of goods based on a relatively low currency value then it would distort GDP to appear high … Germany would be paid 10 euros instead of say 7 Deutsche Marks.

          • forthurst
            Posted January 4, 2020 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            GDP per capita is normally expressed in dollars not local currency for comparative purposes and German cars were a lot more expensive in sterling when they were priced in Deutschmarks.

    • margaret howard
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink


      80% of German companies are family owned.

    • agricola
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes the tragedy is that the Brits have always been highly creative with that capacity for thinking outside the box. To balance this their capacity for management has been abysmal until others like the japanese came along and showed us how to do it. Sadly the congenitally incapable seemed to end up in politics with power way beyond their pay grade in most cases. In my lifetime they gave away radar, the computer, the Miles rocket aircraft, TSR2, the hovercraft, the concept VTOL in the Harrier, and no doubt much else. I think the moral here is do not become dependant on banks or government because they will sell you down the river as soon as their profligacy with other peoples money gets them to the point where they need to sell assets. This is when they choose to sell off the family silver that their interlect could never have envisioned.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 9:07 pm | Permalink


      W.r.t. Germany, perhaps :-
      1) politics, finance, culture, transport not all centralised in one city
      2a). more and different banking to UK (though unclear how long this will last)
      2b). medium sized companies
      2c). Technical training in schools near the mid-size companies
      2d). Inheritance tax ‘loophole’ specifically for family companies
      3) worker participation rather than us vs. them (though perhaps changing over past decade; not sure about Schroder reforms)

      I think the 2s above work together.

      • forthurst
        Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        So what you’re saying is that the Germans treat their family owned businesses like we treat our stately homes?

    • Gareth Warren
      Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      ARM holdings was not held by either the government or the conservative party, it is a private company.

      While no doubt it has increased its turnover since its turnover in 2005 was around the same as Toshiba electronics UK (at 200 million) – and TEU is a small part of the Toshiba corporation in the UK.

      While I like to see UK owned companies the Japanese have invested well into the UK, I believe they will continue to generate more prosperity for both the UK and Japan. Unlike China, or the EU that both prefer to move jobs out of the UK.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        The Japanese did the same with the Asian colonies they established before WWII – in particular Korea and Manchukuo(the puppet state created in Manchuria following the Japanese invasion and headed by the last Manchu emperor of China who,as a boy, had been deposed in 1911).It is argued that subsequent industrialisation in both Korea and N China springs from that original Japanese investment.

      • forthurst
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        The issue is one of control: control of how and where businesses develop, control of intellectual property and future income derived from that, control of brands and trademarks likewise. How’s Pilkington’s doing under Japanese control? Does our educational system largely paid for by the general taxpayer exist to provide the future growth of foreign owned businesses? Allowing the control of companies to change hands as a result of a mad scramble for capital gains by foreign speculators is not the recipe for a sane industrial policy. Neo-liberalism is a dead end.

  32. BillM
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    I often refer to the example of the Koreas to prove the point. To the South, free enterprise, to the North total State control. Now, who is doing the best? And why are there none who wish to escape to the North? Similarly the now-defunct USSR.
    If we cannot learn from history we are unable to learn much at all and could be considered political zombies or just ‘useful idiots’.

  33. Gareth Warren
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    On a different note I hear China is putting pressure on us over our support for Hong Kong democracy and opposes us sailing our warships in the South China sea. They appear to have blocked a stock exchange link.

    Here we should not bow down to such bullying, I also believe we should treat our telecoms as national security and not us Huwei equipment. The best part is this costs us very little in trade due to China’s restrictive trading practices.

  34. margaret howard
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Another boost to our past Brexit world revealed today. The DExpress tells us that a post Brexit tourism boom will add billions to the economy. (although they don’t explain how a post Brexit Britain will suddently attract all this interest in us).

    So will that be our future – hard working oldies unable to retire and collect their pensions until they drop and millions of visiting foreigners replenishing our coffers?

    • Fred H
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      MH – – well we could talk up the idea of the H of Parliament falling down – visit now while still standing! Another might be come see Buckingham Palace while royals still live there. Or even – spot the ex-MP working as a barrista?

  • 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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