A Hard Look at UK Economic Recovery Fantasy and Strategic Weakness – John Gelmini

United Kingdom: stamp

United Kingdom: stamp (Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)

I thank Dr Alf for reblogging the article entitled “Ignore the hype: Britain’s ‘recovery’ is a fantasy that hides our weakness”, by Will Hutton |and published in The Observer. Here are my own views.

To my mind, a recovery that produces no export growth, no search for alternative sources of energy and no nuclear power stations, no roads, no airports and little or no inward investment is not a recovery at all, so to that extent I find myself agreeing with Will Hutton for perhaps the first time.

Boris Johnson some months back in the Daily Telegraph said that UK PLC could not go on just
blaming the EC for its problems and had much more work to do.

Will Hutton is right to point out that the private sector also needs to raise its game because many of the problems identified in the 1994 Competitiveness White Paper, prepared for the then Michael Heseltine, as the President of the Board of Trade, are still with us.

Those were, and indeed, still are:
–Too few directors with formal management training, knowledge of finance or long-term thinking ability
–”Indifferent management quality”—This was a Civil Service phrase referring to the comparison between some overseas bosses and our own
–400 world class companies, versus 250 at the time, versus the German figure at the time (2000) versus the German figure now (more than 2,500)
–Low levels of worker education at a pre-university level via the State Education system (then we were 28th in the world, now we are 44th)
–Over reliance on financial services and banking–Today the City has been eclipsed by New York since November 2012 and is set to be relegated to 4th position within 3 years by Singapore and Hong Kong which will be numbers 1 and 2 by 2016.
China already has the fastest growing and largest bank and 3 of its insurance companies are on track to be the biggest in the world with Price Waterhouse Coopers advising on the optimum target operating model blueprint for China Merchants Group, the biggest of them all
–Too much reliance on imported food, while our own farmers are driven into bankruptcy and 100 suicides a year
–Productivity the lowest of the G7 by an average of 16%
–No discernable means to close a trade gap which has existed since 1982
–An uncompetitive tax regime with inbuilt and excessive waste which drives businesses and wealth offshore so that too little is invested here and too much is invested offshore to the benefit of our strategic, military and economic competitors
–Too many rewards for failure and too big a gap between bosses pay and those at the bottom with inequality widening and not improving
–Poor worker health and increasing obesity, diabetes and dementia
–Falling numbers of IT, engineering and scientific graduates and rising numbers of youngsters wanting to be instant celebrities, footballers and budding Hollywood film directors
–A nation with people in it who imagine that the world owes them a living and constant holidays

John Gelmini

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A Hard Look at UK Defense Spending – John Gelmini


London (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The plan has always been to reduce the Tri Forces to 100,000, abolish the RAF and subsume it into the Army Air Corps and close down our bases in Germany and bring the troops back to the UK where they can be housed more cheaply.

We have aircraft carriers with no aircraft, a navy which is forced in many cases to “co-operate with the French” and the so-called grand plan is to make our forces a “plug and play ” component of the US military whilst expanding the TA under a different name for any future wars we might have to fight ourselves.

To my mind, this is dangerous folly because the French who have a Tri Forces of 250,000 men have the ability to at least punch their weight whereas we manifestly do not.

As an island we have last year got rid of our coastal protection vessel and we only have a 4% margin in terms of food supply with farmers going bankrupt at the rate of 5000 a year and committing suicide at the rate of 100 plus a year.

Most of our food is imported and has to come by sea into 5 main ports, each of which has a port entrance leading to a main road such as Felixstowe which uses the A14.

We are not self-sufficient in natural gas and we have a less than 4% margin in energy supply and a rising population.

A potential adversary, with stealth bombers and a cloaking facility and powerful thermobaric weapons, could take out each of these ports, knock out our main power stations and effectively shut the country down whilst starving the people to death.

Well trained terrorists could do the same thing, with suitcase nukes, closing down all the access roads to the main ports through which our food comes and shut down power stations.

During the previous century, we were nearly starved to death by E boats in World War 1 and U boats and the Luftwaffe hammering our ports during World War 2.

We prevailed then, with a lot of help from the Americans, with expanding our industry to be able to equip 55 divisions and we, at that time, had a powerful navy and the Russians to help us on the Eastern front.

We seem not to have learnt anything from these experiences and are hell-bent on placing our safety in the hands of America whilst imagining that we can still tell others what to do and interfere in other countries as we are already doing in Syria and more actively in other places.

If we are to dramatically reduce force numbers then we need fighting robots, ekoskeletons which our remaining troops can wear, large numbers of unmanned drones, automated stealth ships, stealth submarines and stealth bombers.

We lack the money to do this and the Treasury are cutting defense so this is not an option.

Relying on others for defense, even where we imagine we have a “special relationship”, is dangerous because allegiances change, people change and as the weaker partner we can be dragged into situations we would do better staying out of as the price for being protected.

We in the past have been able to rely on not being invaded because 50% of the world’s financial transactions flowed through the City of London and it was in the interests of an adversary and the wealthy in that country to not damage their interests.

Today New York which overtook London in 2012 is about to be eclipsed by Singapore within the next 2 years and within 3 the Chinese in Hong Kong will be the number 1 financial center.

Within 10 years and probably less, China Merchants Group plus 2 others, will be the world’s top insurers so the old equation of leave the UK alone because of money flows will no longer hold good.

We have to recognize that we are a small financially strapped country which exports next to nothing and with an economy and public sector that needs cutting down to size in order for us to be able to protect ourselves in what is still a hostile and dangerous world.

The Treasury and, their political masters, Cameron and Osborne, are creating hostages to fortune by neutering the country’s ability to defend itself without invoking the help of others.

They need to reverse course.

Any thoughts?

John Gelmini


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