Facing reality - and changing it

Posted on: 20/03/2012

I caught part of Jeremy Paxman’s excellent documentary "The Empire" the other night.

The programme took us back to the early 1930's in England. Mahatma Ghandi was visiting Lancashire to see for himself the impact of his "ban" on the use in India of cotton garments imported from the UK.

During his visit, Ghandi was asked: "Can you please do something? We have 3 million unemployed people in England."

Ghandi simply responded: "I have 300 million unemployed people in my country.”

Move forward 80 years and the problem remains the same.

In the UK, most of us have become used to living rather well. However, to the phrase "well" needs to be added the words "…beyond our means".

That is the hard fact we all need to get used to. What we call "wealth" is now being shared out around the World, not concentrated on Western Europe or the US. Hundreds of millions of middle class people in – for example – India and China want some (perhaps all) of what we Brits have been enjoying since the Industrial Revolution, 250 years ago.

250 years is a long time to be on top. Imagine how bored we would be if, using a sporting analogy, Manchester United won the Premier League 250 years running?

So the World has had enough of Europeans topping the economic league every year.

China and India are powerful and growing ever more so. They are out-manufacturing the former engine-rooms of Europe to an amazing extent.

Of course, it is difficult for European politicians to be totally frank with their electorates. Phrases like "the game is up for us" are unlikely to be vote-winners.

So electorates such as the UK public – that's you and me, by the way – are told they must tighten their belts until "things" get better.

The only problem is many have tightened their belts as far as they feel they want to – but their trousers have still fallen down. Such people don't want to hear about having to make further sacrifices, so often those in power don't tell them.

Stealth, over harsh truth, is frequently preferred by those who need votes.

Most recent measures taken by the British Government are aimed at slowly reducing affluence.


* Increasing the age at which the State Pension is paid

* Reducing the starting salaries of public sector workers, including the police

* Regionalising public sector pay, so that millions of Government workers living away from London receive less than their counterparts in the Capital

And so on.

Frankly, whatever the flavour of the Government, there would be little room for manoeuvre in relation to such measures.

In the UK, we simply have too many Government workers. With an ageing (though not now retiring!) population, declining manufacturing and falling oil revenues, there simply is not enough money in the coffers of UK PLC to fund the massive number of State Employees.

This is not a 2012 phenomenon. How long then? LETS ASSUME FOREVER, THEN WE WON'T BE TOO DISAPPOINTED.

The time has come to gradually reduce the cost of the Public Sector.

"Gradually" in this case means as soon as possible, without damaging too much the cherished fabric of our UK society. Coupled with a reduction in the size and cost of the Public Sector, we need to see a real re-invigoration of all forms of production in the UK.

For too many years, we have been content to live relatively cosy lives, whilst congratulating other countries on their phenomenal economic growth.

Cosy isn't on the menu anymore. We all need to work harder and produce more – AND TO WIN TOGETHER AS A NATION.

If the World ever owed us a living, no one outside our little island believes it does now.

80 years ago Mr Ghandi gave us his answer when asked what he could do for the UK's 3 million unemployed. That answer would –rightly – be exactly the same today.



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