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Labour goes colder on markets

Robert Peston | 13:30 UK time, Monday, 12 April 2010

Labour's manifesto represents a significant shift away from the party's belief in a market-based economy and a shift towards much more government intervention.

In that sense, it may well be seen as the death of at least one incarnation of New Labour, or that great mid-1990s political creation of the troika of Blair, Brown and Mandelson.

That can be seen in its formal statement that "continuing modernisation and investment will be needed by the Royal Mail in the public sector" (my italics) - which is an important formal commitment that it would not privatise Royal Mail for at least the lifetime of the next Parliament.

It is also manifested in the pressure it is applying to the Takeover Panel to raise the voting threshold for all takeovers - and not just hostile bids - to two-thirds of shareholders (see my note of yesterday, "Not a Cadbury law").

The market for buying and selling big companies would probably shrink considerably if this new stipulation were introduced.

Also, the manifesto is littered with warm words and half-policies about encouraging the spread of mutuals and employee-owned businesses, and colder words about subjecting bankers' pay to tighter shareholder controls and empowering the FSA to "quash executive remuneration where it is a source of risk and instability".

But perhaps the killer manifesto phrase is this one:

"An activist industrial strategy is needed - learning the lessons from those nations that have succeeded in developing advanced manufacturing and leading-edge service industries. In those countries, the role of the government is not to stand aside, but to nurture private-sector dynamism, properly supporting infrastructure and the sectors of the future."

Some would say this is a pretty extraordinary statement from a party that has been in power for the past 13 years. It rather implies that Labour hasn't been nurturing private-sector dynamism.

So what is this new "activist industrial strategy"?

Well it's a variety of state-sponsored funds for investing in growing businesses, green businesses and infrastructure projects. And it's a series of tax breaks, especially for small companies, to encourage them to invest in capital, research and intellectual property.

As I've been banging on about for many weeks now, this area of industrial strategy and business policy represents - for the first time in some years - a clear ideological and policy split between Labour and the Tories.

The divide isn't yet as sharp as between the free-market Conservatives of the 1980s and the interventionist Labour of yore; but some would see striking parallels.

Update 1350: Peter Mandelson has told the World at One that part-privatisation of Royal Mail isn't ruled out.

So what does that phrase in the manifesto about Royal Mail needing investment "in the public sector" actually mean?

I'll admit to being bemused.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    No surprise, really - they've realised that businessmen are a bunch of chumps, like bankers.

  • Comment number 3.

    "So what does that phrase in the manifesto about Royal Mail needing investment "in the public sector" actually mean?

    I'll admit to being bemused. "

    Knowing Labours interpretation of Investment, it probably means the taxpayer taking on full liability of the Pension Deficit as part of any part privatisation deal and the government will try and blag this as "investment"

    Any money Laboutr spends is always tagged as "investment"

    When do we start to see the return on our "investment" in the welfare state mr brown? or our "investment" in Union Modernisation Funds? or perhaps our "investment" in the Iraq War?

  • Comment number 4.

    Robert, can you blame Brown for not being as enthusiastic as Blair for Capitalism?

    Let's face it, Socilism largely failed in the 70's and 80's, and now in the noughties Capitalism has failed.

    While you need "dynamism and entrepeneurship" you also need "responsibility". The markets have shown the world, they are not responsible enough. This financial crisis was caused by a combination of irresponsibility and fraud, in the free markets.

    You need a Government to recognise that (as Brown appears to have), and reel in irresponsible behaviour without killing off the economy.

    It's a fine balance, and at the moment, it seems to me that Brown has the most experience. He has seen boom and a massive international bust. If he has learned anything then he is best poised to deal with what happens in the future.

    Overall I don't think what they are saying is a bad thing.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is it possible that the seeming Labour ideological resurgence is due to Gordon Brown's accession to the leadership. I may be off key here but it always seemed to me that New Labour and market socialism was the brain-child of Messiers Blair and Mandleson. Brown always seemed a little more left of the ideologically centrist-right-of-centre position adopted by New Labour.
    Are we seeing evidence of a slow movement back to Labour's roots, especially since the Neo-Conservative experiment of the 80s and early 90s has appeared to have run its course for now?

  • Comment number 6.

    That's the biggest reason not to vote Labour they want to make the UK into an authoritarian state.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is just anti-banking rhetoric.

    Do not judge them by what they say...but by what they have done.

    Remember, all three main parties are anti-statist at heart.

    'Update 1350: Peter Mandelson has told the World at One that part-privatisation of Royal Mail isn't ruled out.'

    The steady dismantling of what's left of the state will continue apace.
    The next target will be the privatisation of the state education system.

    If Labour really were committed to returning to Old Labour style (statist) policies, then they certainly would not be considering the de-nationalisation of Northern Rock.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Labour's manifesto represents a significant shift away from the party's belief in a market-based economy and a shift towards much more government intervention."

    Whoops - to late to remember your principles - they were sold off along with everything else!

    I wouldn't trust Labour ever again

    "I'll admit to being bemused." - yes I sympathise Robert - it's very difficult to arrange the facts presented by pathalogical liars - but as a man who worked in the City - surely you're used to it by now?

  • Comment number 9.

    Isn't an activist industrial strategy protectionism by another name? As for the Royal Mail it will continue to decline in state ownership because of the constraints that this places on its ability to diversify.

  • Comment number 10.

    Robert

    Gordon Brown has always had a vision - "To increase dependency on the state" by stealth.

    This Manifesto displays his true thoughts, even though it is written by Mandelson and Milliband Jnr.

    TAx the private sector until the pips squeak.

  • Comment number 11.

    lie, statistics and lies - its what Labour have become known for - saying one thing but always meaning something else.

  • Comment number 12.

    No need to be bemused at all, Robert - it simply means they're all a bunch of liars. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 13.

    "So what does that phrase in the manifesto about Royal Mail needing investment "in the public sector" actually mean?

    I'll admit to being bemused. "

    Sorry - I forgot in my ealier post this is an election - you're supposed to be confused and muddled!!!

    Just wait until you start looking at the 'fag packet' ideas which will be presented over the next month...

  • Comment number 14.

    Robert,
    Whenever I hear politicians talking I get a sense of deja vu.
    Is there a sense of 'Thatcherism' in the air?

  • Comment number 15.

    Seems to be saying: Since we haven't been doing the job all along why don't we try some of these. The mess was caused because the elected officials decided not to regulate the banks and financial industry. The banks were shoveling money out the back door while the governments were holding discussions with them at the front. None of it matters if lobbyist can buy the votes they need. The bail-out has given the government,usually would think this means the taxpayer, but the taxpayer has little to say in these matters, ownership of much and funds to maintain big business. It seems difficult to institute changes when no one has accepted responsbility for what went wrong. If no one will say what caused the current problem why would anyone believe that they have solutions?

  • Comment number 16.

    LABOUR GOES COLDER ON MARKETS

    The next headline could be...

    'Markets go colder on Labour'

  • Comment number 17.

    One only has to look to Germany, France and the Nordic countries to see that running an economy along social democratic lines is the best way forward for a European industrialized country in a globalized world.

    This does not mean nationalize everything, but a visible, guiding hand to help our own businesses succeed in a competitive world.

    It's like adding some fertilizer to the veg patch in the garden. It might not be 'pure' gardening/market economics, but it makes for a bigger crop!

  • Comment number 18.

    "More Government intervention" argh, who needs that.

    What we need is less meddling by the Government and focus on the places it matters.

  • Comment number 19.

    Thank-you for writing this article. It's very thought-provoking.
    How appropriate that the Labour Manifesto was announced at a hospital – because the country is indeed “sick”. I sincerely hope that Labour is re-elected (and with a majority) because the last thing the UK needs is instability. Now is not the time to change the rudder.
    (The new Queen Elizabeth hospital will treat victims of from the Afghanistan conflict.)
    I would (sadly?) go to the funeral of the great troika of Blair, Brown and Mandelson. To me, this wouldn't be so much a death as a cutting of the umbilical chord that bound UK to the US for the past 13 years.
    Labour says its manifesto is a departure from "business as usual". I think so too.
    Gordon Brown is evidently more cheerful and hopeful about something. I wonder what, or better still, I wonder where the money will come from. I think that Gordon knows; I think that I know…I think all will become much clearer in June, 2010.
    Things I like about the manifesto:
    1. A "living wage" vs. a minimum wage
    2. Assisting the "squeezed middle" before this class becomes extinct
    3. Spread of mutuals and employee-owned businesses; these are ideas whose time has come.
    4. Empowering the FSA to quash unwarranted executive remuneration
    5. state-sponsored funds for investing in growing businesses, green businesses & infrastructure and
    6. Tax breaks, especially for small companies, to encourage capital investment & research.
    I think that Labour, over the past 13 years, has in fact failed to nurture private-sector. It was too busy trying to keep up with mistaken economic policies and the hands-off mentality of its good friend, the United States of America. If you don’t think there was something wrong with this, just look at where the UK stands today, or better still – look at where the United States stands today.
    This Manifesto doesn’t seem to me to be built on fear – unless it’s the fear of not being re-elected when the party has finally seen the light. The light?
    The EU light vs. the prolonged darkness and misdirection of the United States of America.
    The details about how the deficit will be halved will likely come in June, the same month that the new hospital is scheduled to open and the same month as the G-20 in Canada.
    As for the referendum on changing the voting system, if it’s required then of course it must be done; after all, it’s very important that each district be represented fairly within the Government.
    Re Peter Mandelson saying that part-privatisation of Royal Mail isn't ruled out…well, I can only think (within the context of the Labour Manifesto) that this means a consideration for partial ownership by postal employees themselves.

  • Comment number 20.

    Just to comment on Robert's interpretation of the words "continuing modernisation and investment will be needed by the Royal Mail in the public sector".

    It's a fairly opaque wording, but I think it's drawing a long bow to understand it as a commitment not to privatise. It could be read to mean "for as long as the Royal Mail is in the public sector, continuing modernisation and investment will be needed". Which keeps all options open.

  • Comment number 21.

    Labour will soon announce that every worker in the UK will be a public service worker and a member of unite (well that's labours funding sorted). You heard it here first comrade!
    Do not worry, Brown has got as much chance of winning as Tiger Woods becoming a marriage guidance councillor.

  • Comment number 22.

    As you put it Robert, Labour have confirmed that they have "been asleep at the wheel" for the last 13 years.

    Well at least as far as the real economy goes - private sector taxed to the hilt, advanced manufacturing - where? - no surprise there then!

    Britain PLC? Great(?!) Britain??
    More "A green and pleasant land - aka a leisure park for the unemployed masses and nouveau wealthy (bankers, politicians, journos etc).

    I am also surprised by Labour's desire "to create a society fairer for all". Deja vu?

    Weren't we promised this in 1997 and didn't I hear Mr Kinnock in the 1970's and 1980's say much the same?

    As for investment and government intervention, Science and Engineering funding is to be drastically reduced, there are few remaining real incentives to develop advanced industrial manufacturing - no doubt if there were, it would be hit by the climate change whingers - "its too dirty and it will mess up the climate".

    Spare us the Election.
    Let's vote these 13-year old "excuse makers" out once and for all our sakes.

  • Comment number 23.

    Red or blue - you choose!

    What a lovely bipolar choice we have. The BBCs election site is a great read, displaying the policies of the main partys, category by category. Strange that the only large party that has vaguely different ideas is the one we can't vote for because they're not red or blue.

    The only way out of this mess is to grow (proper growth, not silly banker talk), reducing expenditure won't get you anywhere near the goal posts.

    Labour have sort of acknowledged this in their piece, it's just a shame we know it's just words...

  • Comment number 24.

    Dont worry about being bemused Robert, many of us have been bemused for a long time and pay no attention to pledges by this Government.

    Listen to not what they say, and look to there record on what they have done....it bears no resemblance to their pledges,and we are now getting rehashed 1997 ideology spouted.Totally untrustworthy is the legacy of this last parliament, and it will take many parliaments , if ever , to regain a point where who we elect are working for us and not themselves.

  • Comment number 25.

    The future is blight the future is the brown O range revolution

  • Comment number 26.

    The damage is in creating a scenario in which businesses don't know which way the wind will blow from one year to the next. In the past we knew that we would oscillate between the two parties: free market on one side, government excess on the other. Now both parties are the same, but prone to change their position on a whim.

  • Comment number 27.

    7. At 2:17pm on 12 Apr 2010, DebtJuggler wrote:

    "Remember, all three main parties are anti-statist at heart."

    Everyone is anti-statist - we just can't agree on the best way of getting there.

    One thing that is certain the vast majority of ideologies agree that 'no state' would be best.

    The dilema is that only the state can bring about the organisation required to 'replace the state' - the markets are to anarchic and the 'anarchists way' of simply overthrowing the state and seeing what happens will scare the willies out of people.

    That's why Marxism is the only way - the problem is how do you create a state with a sole purpose of 'making itself redundant' - as we saw from the Soviet Union, if you involve a small amount of individuals, the state's aim becomes 'their aim' - and it results in a Stalinist dictatorship.

  • Comment number 28.

    I remember a Labour manifesto promise to re-nationalise the utility companies starting with the Water Boards.
    Still waiting on that one......

  • Comment number 29.

    " I'll admit to being bemused."

    So are the rest of us!
    But what fun to see candidates (they are all that now) jumping on any bandwagon and appearing at the opening of a bag of crisps....

    Will they knock at my door for my vote? And my vote will change things if the turn out is low.

    I am waiting....

  • Comment number 30.

    telecasterdave wrote:

    "
    Do not worry, Brown has got as much chance of winning as Tiger Woods becoming a marriage guidance councillor. "

    If I were you, I wouldn't become a bookie, because you may become bankrupt.

    The leads aren't increasing for the Tories, but De-creasing.

  • Comment number 31.

    9. At 2:27pm on 12 Apr 2010, ARHReading wrote:
    Isn't an activist industrial strategy protectionism by another name?

    ====================================

    Not neccesarily at all, it is more about picking winners in the type of model renewable energy has followed in many european countries.

    Where for example in Denmark with wind and Germany & Spain with solar the local industries have dramatically increased both energy supply and more importantly the manufacturing industry associated. However Spain shows the downsides of this appraoch - if the incentives are wrong then you will generate excessive bubble which is not economic in the long term.

    It was no accident the wind turbine maufacturer Vesta is a Danish company - it was no accident that they shut in the UK as the nimbys won't have turbines.
    It is this approach to wave power that rather belatedly the curent shower are pushing forward with.

    It could also mean investing in University research, it is no accident that many new technology companies set up around universities the world over - these are by-products of fundamental research which then allow universities to commercialise it or sell it or attract the kind of high paying high skills jobs associated, there are some notable successes such as satellite manufacture from this route.

    So an activist policy is anything but protetionism - it is more about picking winners - however that is something I would not trust governments with either, they just are not usually that good at it since they tend to have one eye on the past - i.e. if new technology disrupts/replaces current - they worry more about the old jobs lost compared to the new ones created.
    They have trouble with the concept that the jobs will go anyway just instead of being homegrown replacements they will come from somewhere else.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Labour getting colder on the free market". I hope so! If it's true I might even vote for them. We've been subjected to this quasi-religious nonsense about the "superiority" of the free market quite long enough. Since the early 80s we've seen a small minority of our society get ever richer on the backs of this mythology while the rest of us have had to swallow ever-worsening working conditions, vanishing pensions, a crumbling society, an economy that has returned again and again to a state of febrile fragility and ever-spiralling personal debt to simply keep a roof over our heads.

    And why? Because the "free market" has failed. It has failed and failed and failed again to create the wealth required to make standards of living in this country even begin to come close to those of our European and Scandinavian neighbours ( who never entirely bought into this poppycock but did buy into our utilities) . Instead we have allowed second-rate businessmen to pay themselves and their third-rate managers top-dollar and bonuses to preside over the economic emasculation of this country and to lecture us on the dangers of allowing their workforces to earn a decent wage and a decent pension.

  • Comment number 33.

    So Labour are now advocating an interventionist industrial policy with flatter hierarchies and staff empowerment?

    It is obvious; they know they are in trouble with the voters: serious, big trouble.

    Since it would seem that Labour will only promise leftist ideas if they want their core support to come out and vote for them then I can only suggest to the comrades that by actually kicking Labour out of office, the middle-class careerists currently in the Cabinet might just start advocating workers control and other useful things. Even getting to mean them as well!

    What we need to know at the moment is why, when and where did this Damascene moment occur? From looking at an opinion poll, or, after a lengthy and broad discussion on the best way to take Britain forward? To hazard a guess I reckon it wasn't the latter.

    For the good of the country Labour has to be evicted from office. By taking a hard beating at the polls will concentrate minds on the left. Only then by enagaging with the general public through campaigning will a new constitutional party of the left begin to take root. And it has to take root within a resurgence of manufacturing and value added activity rather than in the ego-polishing boardrooms of the elite. It is just the transition that will be uncomfortable.

  • Comment number 34.

    28. At 5:22pm on 12 Apr 2010, mark_2002 wrote:

    I remember a Labour manifesto promise to re-nationalise the utility companies starting with the Water Boards.
    Still waiting on that one......

    ......................................

    And 3 jags prescot had the job integrating transport didn't he? Was gonna take 5 years which then became 10 which then ...... whatever happened to prescot?

  • Comment number 35.

    Re the Royal Mail.. I thought Mandy said on the World at One that they wanted someone who knew how to make this type of business more efficient to take a minority stake. Not much chance with the state of mind of the unions and the apparent poor quality of Royal Mail's management who couldn't get a handle on them. Interesting that the main contenders were off-shoots of the German and Dutch national postal organisations. We could have had a DHL or TNT if Royal Mail, the unions and the government had had any foresight a decade or so ago.
    As post 22 points out, how can you have any sort of active interventionist strategy when Science and Engineering funding is being cut? Where will the engineers we need come from? India, where they turn out English speaking graduate engineers by the plane-load ready to go to UK and US? This will then add another turn of the screw to the immigration debate. No joined up thinking again, then.

  • Comment number 36.

    32. At 5:48pm on 12 Apr 2010, Andrew Morton wrote:

    "Labour getting colder on the free market". I hope so! If it's true I might even vote for them. We've been subjected to this quasi-religious nonsense about the "superiority" of the free market quite long enough.

    ...................................

    Wow, you've bought into a continuation of the lies this government spouts. I have no idea who I will vote for, probably none of them but for sure I will not be voting the lot who have presided over this last 13 years of mess and especially not for the guy who has had the two top jobs in that time. And now he is 'promising' what?

  • Comment number 37.

    30
    De-creasing, what's that then your trousers?
    I think you mean decreasing, ah well so much for the labour education system.

  • Comment number 38.

    These manifesto commitments are straight from the Labour party bosses the Unions.
    Who says money can't get you political influence over policies. This is the payback for bankrolling the Labour's election campaign.

  • Comment number 39.

    "Labour's manifesto represents a significant shift away from the party's belief in a market-based economy and a shift towards much more government intervention".

    Well Robert, if that is an accurate interpretation of their intentions we are is big trouble.

    It is this government's intervention in things best left to experts that has created the disaster we have today.

    Before Gordon Brown took the scrutiny of the banking system away from the BoE, we had a trustworthy organisation at the helm. A political change forced in by Brown, introduced the FSA to the task of supervising the banks, a task they spectacularly failed at.

    This manifesto is a statement of Browns intention to go much further left than we have been heading this past thirteen years. This seems almost impossible, given the scale of government interference already in place affecting our every day lives.


  • Comment number 40.

    So what is this new "activist industrial strategy"?

    Is it funding the banks losses with billions of pounds of taxpayer's money, while giving but a few million to support high technology initiatives?

    Is it taxing telecoms companies (the £22.5 billion levied by the 3G spectrum selloff) so they have no money to spend on R&D and have to lay off 30,000 UK employees?

    Is it selling off the nuclear industry so we become totally dependent on foreign energy suppliers?

    I'd like very much to hear what this 'strategy' really is...

  • Comment number 41.

    I hope that this is a sign that someone has now understood the failure of Capitalism both nationally and internationally. When I say failure, I mean repeated failures in that people obtain a job one year and are made redundant the next and then the cycle is repeated causing misery to millions. House prices go up and then house prices go down. People manager to buy a house then their house is repossessed. I remember all of this under the Tories. Before the 1979 election they blamed Labour for unemployment and then they promptly doubled it when they got in power. People were told that buying a house was good and then the Tories directly increased interest rates to 15% and people suffered the pain of repossession.

    I thought that this may just be the problem of our local form of Capitalism but we have now seen the devastating effect Capitalism has had on people's lives worldwide. No matter how hard people worked, their livelihoods have suddenly been taken away from them. All across the world, people have had their jobs taken away from them.

    But look at the totally ridiculous situations that our present form of Capitalism produce. We have Bank Mangers, for example, being paid millions of pounds for getting things wrong but it is the employees of their companies who are made redundant. That can not be justified outside of a mental institution. How, in a sane world, can one man receive in salary 100 times what another man receives.

    We would not accept this stupidity in any other sphere yet we trust our lives and the lives of our children to it. We seem to accept a system where one day you have a job and the next day you don't. One day you have a house and the next day you don't.

    We need a new Capitalism where illogical, high salaries are not paid to people who declare themselves to be entrepreneurs, wealth creators and job providers. These Alice in Wonderland ideas have been accepted for too long. The real wealth creators are the hard working employees. We need a new Capitalism based on sanity.

  • Comment number 42.

    #4 Vic Singh
    "He has seen boom and a massive international bust"

    See what Vic did there? The boom was down to Brown, but the bust was beyond his control... Nice piece of sophistry.

  • Comment number 43.

    #5 enigmajx
    "Is it possible that the seeming Labour ideological resurgence is due to Gordon Brown's accession to the leadership."

    The ideological resurgence is down, I'm afraid, to Brown's lust for ever-expanding power and control by the state - i.e. him.

  • Comment number 44.


    Obviously the civil war in the labour party still rages on - although with so many blairite resignations in the past six months it seems brown is going in for the kill. Good luck peter is all i can say - you seem to be more a less on your own

    economic illiteracy is not however confined to the brownites as Roberts previous post on NIC post suggesting the public sector generates wealth demonstrates-

    ".... the Conservatives would also argue that the private sector is more efficient at generating the revenues and wealth that pay for public services than the public sector.

    incredible!

  • Comment number 45.

    Robert

    They have also said that they are not going to raise income tax - they said that last time. So even if you follow the strict suggestion that NI is not income tax - then even they can not get away from the 50p band being income tax. Based on this I wouldn't worry about what they say - they will find a way to weasel out of their promises and commitments and pretend they have not.

  • Comment number 46.

    With Gordon Browns taxes and EC regulations we may as well already be in a socialist system. Where's the surprise?

  • Comment number 47.

    When governments were told of the coming banking crisis the bankers assured them that the "market" would correctthe problems...wrong...again. The idea that markets correct themselves would only make sese if markets were somewhat fair and business was honest and since neither exist this is the selling of a myth that only bankers, politicians and economist believe. Banking and big business run the governments and have many legislative advantages that shield them from market forces. This is all fairy tale stuff that they keep selling everyone. This great captialist dream of upward mobility and endless opportunities, when in reality those with money buy access, buy favorable and prevent unfavorable legislations, construct trading restictions and have tax advantages that smaller competitors do not. Politicians tend to lean toward the free market prostitution model as it fits well within their business plan and personal character while bankers and financial industry tend toward the slave purchaser model of reduced overhead and high profits and unquestioned obedience.

  • Comment number 48.

    It sounds like the not so new old Labour party is 'all over the place'?

  • Comment number 49.

    36. At 6:41pm on 12 Apr 2010, Uphios wrote:
    32. At 5:48pm on 12 Apr 2010, Andrew Morton wrote:

    "Labour getting colder on the free market". I hope so! If it's true I might even vote for them. We've been subjected to this quasi-religious nonsense about the "superiority" of the free market quite long enough.

    ...................................

    Wow, you've bought into a continuation of the lies this government spouts. I have no idea who I will vote for, probably none of them but for sure I will not be voting the lot who have presided over this last 13 years of mess and especially not for the guy who has had the two top jobs in that time. And now he is 'promising' what?

    ----------

    What I've "bought into" is having my eyes open for the last 25 years. We haven't been in a mess for 13 years - we've been in a mess all my adult life. Or did I imagine the record-breaking unemployment of the 1980s? Or the sky-high interest rates? Or the record levels of government expenditure (as a proportion of GDP) that the Thatcher government ran? Or the spiralling inflation?

    We've been suckered for decades - by both main parties. If one of them has now started to see the light, that just great.

  • Comment number 50.

    #36 "I've no idea who I will vote for"

    I just lost a few quid on some long shots on the national - need to recoup a bit on a dead cert - I'm going for: - dyed-in-the wool third generation - Telegraph readin' - bank loving - Euro sceptic - anti public sector - quasi republican - CONSERVATIVE!

    Oh spiffing! - I've just won tuppence on a £1000 stake.

  • Comment number 51.

    #41 An awful lot of sense in a succinct statement.

  • Comment number 52.

    Lets face it over the last 20yrs we have had the two extremes.
    Thatcher stripping the UK of all manufacturing and focusing on Financial Services. Then Blair focusing on the state running everything and having complete faith in the free market economy.
    Full blown Capitalism has failed,full blown Socialism has failed.
    Heres an idea how about taking the best of both worlds eg 1)free enterprise business culture and welding that to the worker involvement in running the business in a similar model to Sweden share ownership etc?
    Anything is better than outright greed and the me me me culture we have been sold over the last 20yrs!

  • Comment number 53.

    31. At 5:33pm on 12 Apr 2010, Whistling Neil wrote:
    9. At 2:27pm on 12 Apr 2010, ARHReading wrote:
    Isn't an activist industrial strategy protectionism by another name?

    ====================================

    Not neccesarily at all, it is more about picking winners in the type of model renewable energy has followed in many european countries.

    Where for example in Denmark with wind and Germany & Spain with solar the local industries have dramatically increased both energy supply and more importantly the manufacturing industry associated. However Spain shows the downsides of this appraoch - if the incentives are wrong then you will generate excessive bubble which is not economic in the long term.

    It was no accident the wind turbine maufacturer Vesta is a Danish company - it was no accident that they shut in the UK as the nimbys won't have turbines.

    ===========

    Well, when you need 1 Turbine for 10 Family homes that strikes me as being a hell of a lot of turbines - have we enough room? GO Nuclear, we should have done it years ago.

  • Comment number 54.

    50. At 10:31pm on 12 Apr 2010, Billythefirst wrote:
    #36 "I've no idea who I will vote for"

    I just lost a few quid on some long shots on the national - need to recoup a bit on a dead cert - I'm going for: - dyed-in-the wool third generation - Telegraph readin' - bank loving - Euro sceptic - anti public sector - quasi republican - CONSERVATIVE!

    Oh spiffing! - I've just won tuppence on a £1000 stake.

    =======
    How much tax did you pay?

  • Comment number 55.

    "Learning lessons, nurturing, encouraging...." As you say Robert,"full of warm words." And maybe they're not going to prioritise privatisation of the Post Office anymore either - big deal! This is just more hollow rhetoric. A manifesto that says nothing, but attempts to sound good. (But telling it like it is was never popular!)

    Yes, the use of words signalling a return to interventionist politics, may be something we've not heard for years and it's all very interesting, but.....it's still just a papering over of the cracks. If the situation wasn't so monumentally serious we could just let the whole thing wash over us. But, start mentioning things like self-sufficiency as a solution and it's all too much for people. But ignoring it for too long meant things like more nuclear power stations in future became the only option. (Seems we had to ignore/forget the failure to privatise BNFL because of decomissioning costs, to convince/delude ourselves this was worth going ahead with.)

    What this warm-worded drivel exposes or perhaps merely serves to confirm is that our politicians are complete fantasists. Playing to an audience, the vast majority of whom only want to hear warm words and have no time for reality. Who haven't the stomach for the reality of an unhappy ending. And voters who will only vote for familiarity - because "it's safe." Only is it? Is it really that safe anymore? (Politicians squabbling over £6billion, when the scale of the problem is over a £trillion of debt. It's all quite pathetic.)







  • Comment number 56.

    @49
    I agree that the vast majority of the British population has had a raw deal, probably our entire history not just the last 25 years.

    But can you honestly believe that New Labour are now signalling a return to old Labour ideology? I don't think so, I amm certain that the Mandy spin factory is prepared to say whatever it feels will win the day. This shower have presided over wars we didnt want, lied through their teeth on many issues, broken promises. I was a labour man many years ago, but never again will I vote for this rabble as long as I live. I voted for them in 97 only to feel incredibly let down some months later. All they are is cunning. Sly talkers who just want power not real change.

    Time for the alternatives to regroup and organise it has been too long since we had real choice in politics. Alas, that won't be in this election.

  • Comment number 57.

    The only real answer to this is policy by referendum. All major issues should be put to a vote. Local decisions should also be voted on locally using the same method. Depending on the cost/seriousness of the issue a majority could be simple 51-49 or more complex/expensive require 70% of those voting. It would make life very interesting and get people power working.

  • Comment number 58.

    19. At 2:57pm on 12 Apr 2010, BluesBerry wrote:
    Thank-you for writing this article. It's very thought-provoking.
    How appropriate that the Labour Manifesto was announced at a hospital – because the country is indeed “sick”. I sincerely hope that Labour is re-elected (and with a majority) because the last thing the UK needs is instability. Now is not the time to change the rudder.
    _____________________________________________________________

    Umm... You may want to take another look at that rudder..

  • Comment number 59.

    House price inflation 'picks up' BBC 08/04/10
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8608752.stm

    House price inflation slows down BBC 30/03/10
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8593771.stm

    Same story, different headline. You say potatoes.......

  • Comment number 60.

    Are people not more worried about this government and the obvious shift to the left, during the last few months, more and more people seem to be going the same way. As a Swede I can say that the UK has been regarded as one of the countries in Europe where one can still work hard and be rewarded for it. This has been the UK's success although heavily undermined by the government over the last 13 years. The grass isn't greener on the other side, most people in Sweden with some ambition consider moving abroad as there is limited incentive to work hard. For exampel if you get paid approximately 20k a year and the the other 20k is commission based you take home around 25k in total, however if you are paid 35 basic you take home around the same. Where is the incentive to work harder if all performance based pay is taxed so high, as well as everything in that matter(and yes you have to pay to see a doctor in Sweden so it's not free). The same thing will happen to the UK if these protectionist and socialist laws are passed. I urge you to go back to basics and reward the hard working person. Government handouts are not the way forward(one step short of bribing people to vote that way).

  • Comment number 61.

    60. At 09:48am on 13 Apr 2010, exworried wrote:

    "Are people not more worried about this government and the obvious shift to the left, during the last few months,"

    Nope, at current rate of knots it'll take about ten years to reach the centre ground so no issues there.

    Have to say I'm intrigued that a swede finds favour in our approach to politics -always thought of Sweden as having a rather well balanced society.

    You also said:
    "As a Swede I can say that the UK has been regarded as one of the countries in Europe where one can still work hard and be rewarded for it. This has been the UK's success although heavily undermined by the government over the last 13 years.

    Do all Swedes think this way? What was your job?

    You guys didn't receive a visit from two guys in a helicopter did you? One would be shifty looking Belizean Billionire and the other a short bald chap with a strange accent. Whatever they told you it's not true know.

    You don't have to work hard for the rewards - you can join the financial services sector where you get massive bonuses for doing a bit of gambling and even after tax they're still ridiculously large, however, you need certain qualities - greed is paramount, dishonesty a distinct advantage, and a willingness to shaft others will ensure you fit in.

    I think it's great to know that real Swedish people who are in no way connected with the Conservative Party are so concerned about our welfare - better not let that sneaky Labour Party back in then had we?

 

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