We have made too many socio-economic mistakes. We’re about to make more.
UK Think Tank Civitas has released a report arguing that the strong Pound is the key factor behind Britain’s trade deficit. The allegedly unaligned centre argues that British currency should be devalued by a third to allow British manufacturers to export more. Its author, entrepreneur and economist John Mills, argues that a weaker Pound would stimulate exports, and thus help reduce the UK’s trade deficit.
I can tell you based on very reliable sources that such ‘thinking’ mirrors that of new Bank of England boss Mark Carney exactly. But to be honest, calling Sterling a “key factor” in Britain’s export failings is rather like blaming drought on the weather. Reservoirs, wells and piped water can counteract the weather, but the weather isn’t (yet) under our control. Our export performance is risible because we don’t make enough things, we market our stuff very badly, and we have lazily stuck with the EU as a trading partner. We have a large deficit because we import too much, export too little, don’t grow enough of our own food, and have too big a population for our land area.
Weakening the Pound might improve the situation briefly (although given the world is in the worst slump for ninety years, even that isn’t certain) but within months our cost of imports will go up….and somebody in Zurich or Frankfurt will start buying Sterling to make us expensive again.
It is the sort of sticking-plaster, dead-end thinking for which Britain is famous these days, and in that sense is on a parallel with this sudden enthusiasm for fracking shale to obtain cheap gas. As I tried to point out yesterday, the wholesale adoption of that methodology would be little more than a temporary relief, and comparing us to the US – with a land mass 38 times bigger than ours – is beyond pathetic as a argument in favour of digging up what cultivable land we have left.
We securitise our airports and reduce our freedom to walk about unobserved as a way of dealing with an idiotic pro-US foreign policy. We attract foreign soccer stars to make more money, and then wonder why our national team is hopeless. We bully our largest broadcaster, and then complain that its news is too anodyne.
In a one-liner, if you don’t start to plan ahead, you finish by having your head up your behind.
In 1945/6, half a million sex-starved British armed men came back and produced the Baby Boom. The Establishment was rather busy during the next five years paying our “allies” the Americans back, but after that somebody should’ve started thinking about whether it was a good idea to pay the State Pension out of current account.
Sixty-five years on, there is no national UK pension fund, nobody knows how to maintain old age welfare, and the only solution this shower ruling over us can come up with is a hugely complicated levelling system that will mean new immigrants of 20 years standing winding up with a similar pension to the person whose family has been here for a thousand years. That too, as you can imagine, is going to be really good for cultural peace in post-Crash Britain…and I write this on a day when six UK Muslims stand accused of planning a bomb attack on the English Defence League.
Britain is, I’m very sad to say, suffering from a lack of bright ideas, and the ‘think tanks’, bankers, civil servants and politicians of our Nation are trying to suggest that dull, half-baked process will suffice as a replacement. By the time the ordinary Brit finally wakes up to this, we will either have become a rampant anarchy or a Police State. So as I have written endlessly before, we will in the end all be equally to blame. As Joe Stalin once remarked, “History is made by those who turn up”. It’s time we abandoned our sleepwalking apathy in favour of radical realism.