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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why Britain is utterly, terminally stuffed

I live in Birmingham (UK), where our car industry was taken over first by the Germans and then (partially, though they also tried to raid us for other paperwork and designs that weren't part of the deal) by the Chinese. More could have been saved earlier, but the Rover crisis came to a head as the then Labour Government, facing re-election, chickened out of accepting a venture capitalist plan from Alchemy, since this would mean admitting that the plant had to shrink. The politicians lied that the land the factory was built on couldn't be used for housing and retail, because of ground pollution; now, the land has been cleared for exactly those purposes. Trust the British Labour Party to betray workers in order to get workers' votes.

We have also recently seen philanthropic chocolate makers Cadbury's fall into American hands (a company headed by a lady who reminds me of the frightening nurse in Mel Brooks' "High Anxiety"). And HP (for Houses of Parliament, ironically) Sauce has been bought by the US (Heinz), production has been transferred to the Netherlands and the factory here has closed.

Birmingham looks different, these days.

In today's Daily Mail, Alex Brummer paints the bigger picture of the national garage sale that is UK plc. Company directors, bankers and hedge funds have all made out like bandits (to use a Matt Taibbi expression) and the UK government has been happy to let them do it, cheered by the prospect of short-term revenue and the illusion of economic prosperity as the new rich shovelled cash into the stockmarket after buying up the best bits of London and the South-East. Brummer traces the Dolorous Stroke back to the Tories in 1979 (Chancellor Howe's relaxation of foreign investment rules) and 1986 (the financial services sector's Big Bang). Trust the British Conservative Party to betray the middle and aspirant working classes in order to get their votes.

The downside of this prolonged boss' jolly is the loss of future income to overseas interests, the withering of our patent base (now 39% foreign owned) and R&D activity, the decline in industrial skills and, inevitably, our country's ultimate ruination.

Elsewhere in the same edition of the Mail (a paper hated by bien-pensant comedians) is the reported displeasure of Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond (I sometimes call our cat I-Lick-Salmon) at a spoof in the Economist magazine, which suggests (as I have long thought) that independence for Scotland is a romantic and economically self-destructive dream. It's tempting to think that the rest of the nation would be financially better off without Salmond's land, but that's the same sort of flawed short-term analysis as the one Brummer describes. It's clear, is it not, that the EU plan for splitting and regionalizing the UK is a sort of long-brewed adolescent revenge for owing us their hastily cobbled-together postwar democracies, and they're now trying to haul us out of the jollyboat and onto the deck of the Euranic just after the funny-money (read Bill Black's latest) iceberg has slit their hull.

Action points:
  • don't depend on the State being able to maintain public sector and State pensions in future
  • prepare your children for life and a career abroad
  • if you're young enough, consider leaving before the social compact falls apart

1 comment:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Good action points.