Heseltine questions 'national will to improve economy'

 
Lord Heseltine Lord Heseltine's plans to rejuvenate city economies were accepted by his party

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Lord Heseltine has suggested the wealth of British people means they lack the "national will" needed to match growth rates in places like India and China.

He told the Independent the "richer you get the less imperative there is" for people "to drive themselves".

The former Conservative deputy prime minister said "all these comparisons" with India and China "were ridiculous".

He said he was just back from India: "You know why they've got to drive themselves? They've got real problems."

Last week in the Budget, Chancellor George Osborne admitted the UK's economic recovery was taking longer than expected but insisted "we are, slowly but surely, fixing our country's economic problems".

Start Quote

Maybe one of the problems of advanced economies is that people are sufficiently well off that they don't need to drive themselves any more”

End Quote Lord Heseltine Conservative

His comments came just after he had announced that the official forecast for growth in the UK economy this year had been halved to 0.6% from the 1.2% predicted in December.

India's economic growth projection for this year has also been cut, but in its case to 5%. China's economy grew at its slowest rate for 13 years in 2012 - but at 7.8% was still far ahead of UK figures.

'Ridiculous' comparisons

Lord Heseltine dismissed comparisons between the UK and the two faster growing economies.

"Maybe one of the problems of advanced economies is that people are sufficiently well off that they don't need to drive themselves any more," Lord Heseltine said.

"All these comparisons with China and India are ridiculous. I've just come back from India. You know why they've got to drive themselves? They've got real problems. While in this country there are people with problems, the vast majority of people have standards which are not comparable with the Third World."

Asked whether he believed poor growth stemmed from a lack of desire, Lord Heseltine replied: "It could be. I don't personally subscribe to that view but I don't discount it as a possible thought... I think there is in the nature of most people a desire to do something and to do it better, and do it to a degree of personal satisfaction."

Lord Heseltine, whose plans to improve the economies of English cities other than London were accepted by the government this month, was asked by the Independent if it was essential to improve the economy.

He replied: "It's not essential. It doesn't need to. It can go on drifting down.

"There is no God-given rule saying you've got to have a well-performing economy. It could be an indifferent economy. It's a question of whether the national will is there; whether we want it. And the richer you get the less imperative there is."

 

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  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 477.

    I couldn't agree more. Our aspirations to improve our lives generally have been diluted by excessive wages, which have left us complacent and uncompetitive against other, more forward-looking, nations.

    The "I must have everything brand-new, straightaway but not work for it" culture needs a radical overhaul, as does the problem of excessive waste of food that is perfectly safe to eat.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 476.

    I think what Heseltine is saying here is don’t blame the Government

    We are in this financial mess not because of the world baking crisis or because of the governments poor decisions

    No we are in this mess because we can’t be bothered to get out of it

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 475.

    "..people are sufficiently well off that they don't need to drive themselves any more,.." - Lord H

    Sounds plausible, but if true then the very people in our society with the most ability to be the driving force, ie the wealthy, will be the least motivated. Address that one in your tax regime Mr Osborne.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 474.

    Many people aspire to paying their bills and putting food on the table never mind having a nest egg for the future.

    I wonder what planet the likes of Heseltine are living on, do they not see what is happening to the hard working people in this country and if they do do they realy care. Strange how the people with huge sums of money at their disposal are experts on the working class.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 473.

    # 393 "So how about looking at spending up until the crash, when inflation was low, spending was under control "

    Lets take 2007 then, pre crash.
    tax as %age of GDP in UK averages 35-35.5% of GDP (true since early 1960s)
    2007 Govt spending 41% of GDP

    Structural deficit therefore 5.5% of GDP.

    If that was spending under control then today is April 1st

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 472.

    The workshy wealthy. Welcome to the "who we blame for our economic mismanagement club". You join fellow members: The workshy poor; NuLabour; Greece; EU; immigrants; tax credit claimants; public sector workers; royal wedding; Queens jubilee; the olympics; a snowflake; rain; ..........

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 471.

    461. Fiscal prudence
    "He said in the USA people aspire to be in the top few % but make sure they stay out the bottom"

    By definition, regardless of what you do, you may find yourself in the lowest %.

    As for the USA if ever there is a model not to follow, then that is it. Talk about soul-less mindless consumption with a large side of nihilistic and narcissist tendencies with some gun violence too

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 470.

    Given the choice between "contentment" and working myself half to death to be 5% richer, I would take "contentment " every time.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 469.

    i note no editors picks out of this lot....

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 468.

    Smoke and mirrors everywhere.

    What's more likely ?

    Brits have caught a 'lazy virus' that prevents them from doing a days work and would rather sit watching TV all day. .

    Or Business people would rather make stuff in China, maximising profit - which does not lead to cheaper prices, everything is still expensive.

    Globalism has required that we all become interdependent.

    Was in the small print.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 467.

    Andy@444
    Case made
    For bottom-line equality
    No more of 'wool over eyes'

    Compare our state to the promise of Equal Partnership Democracy with more energetic in any direction free to give as welcome, expectations met by 'less energetic' helped by conditionality of their equal income START, all knowing freedom of all from material conflict of interest, free to trust, speak, act, re-direct own labour

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 466.

    459.AndyC555 - "Odd isn't it how the same people who denounce lurid stories in the press about 'benefits cheats' seem to lap up without question lurid stories in the press about 'tax cheats'........."



    Really? So it was our imagination then that Starbucks (to name but one) paid a relative pittance on their multi million £ profits.....

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 465.

    "Maybe one of the problems of advanced economies is that people are sufficiently well off that they don't need to drive themselves any more," Lord Heseltine said.

    ---
    According to the Sunday Times Rich List.Michael Heseltine was the 170th Richest Person in the UK in 2004 with a personal fortune of nearly A Quarter of a Billion Pounds

    However, those on minimum wage are apparently greedy!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 464.

    447. Mind the windows Timo

    No: the 'medieval hang-up' we need to get rid of is the Class System in this country.

    Shame then that its the "working class" majorty that cling on to the notion, to give them selves an excuse for not doing much with their lives.

    The term "working class majority" is a cliche without any real definition. Hence your remark has no value.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 463.

    I am no fan of Heseltine or his contemporary Michael Howard.
    However I'd like to point out that both were from moderately well off backgrounds and weren't like Cameron, Osborne, Boris and the rest of the Bullenden Boys with their multi million pound trust funds.
    Doesn't make his theory hold any more water. Those who wish to strive will some find a comfortable level and stay there.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 462.

    Definately prefer Hesletine to most of the rest of the Con party, however, there may be some in Britain who are so comfortable they have more than enough for their needs, but there are others of us who no matter what we do cannot actually improve the economy. Currently i have a mother who is converting a house into flats, once finished £1,500 month xtra, taking ages though due to borrowing money.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 461.

    I'm reminded of a US friend who told me the UK is obsessed with & jealous of the top 1% of society and maintaining the 'bums' in the bottom 10%. He said in the USA people aspire to be in the top few % but make sure they stay out the bottom.Otherwise they get little thought. Most Americans work hard to ensure they keep what they and their families have achieved. They expect nothing for nothing.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 460.

    Ungrateful plebs , the good times of gorging on eat horsemeat won't last for ever , mmmm?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 459.

    Odd isn't it how the same people who denounce lurid stories in the press about 'benefits cheats' seem to lap up without question lurid stories in the press about 'tax cheats'

    I take both with a huge dose of salt

    And extrapolating half-stories you half-understood from half-acquaintances who are probably winding you up into a 'general theory of taxation' is only going to make you look an idiot

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 458.

    Not a fan of this guy, of late anyway. However, he has hit the nail on the head, comparisons with the growth of India are ridiculous. They have 20 times the population of the UK and still have a lower GDP. GDP per capita is what is important. In a world of an expanding population and diminishing finite resources only a cretin like Ed Balls would think that we can keep on growing.

 

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