Wednesday 31 October 2012

Economic Growth - Leave No Tern Unstoned

Yesterday, Thursday, two old men of the past resurfaced in the media.  One was a comedian, known for his volatile approach to matters, high acting style and complete belief in his own talents.  The other was a man who devoted himself to his trade, working hard and making his way by his own talents to prosperity, fame, deserved honours and a respected standing in the community.

The first was Lord Heseltine, masquerading in politics, is all over the screens who was presenting a report on economic growth in the world as he knew it.  One of Heseltine’s given names is Dibdin, from a forebear Charles Dibdin (see Wikipedia), who certainly was a man of the stage and who was well known for his mono-dramatic entertainments and patriotic songs penned in a time of war. 

Heseltine became a man of wealth, largely in publishing, after a sticky start that left some questions unanswered.  He claimed to have military experience on the basis of the eight months he did on National Service, before leaving to stand for Parliament.  He has been in politics and the media ever since.

The second was Ken Dodd on Radio 3, in discussion to a small audience and telling them about the world as it is.  Heseltine was born to wealth, Dodd to a local coal delivery man who was formerly a newspaper delivery boy.  Ken had two aunts who had been music hall artistes which led him into entertainment.

Heseltine was on about how bad it is that London has become so central to our economy to the detriment of other parts.  So he was talking about making Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle centres of economic renewal.  We recall how his venture into Liverpool Toxteth after the riots led not so much to economic growth as to very dodgy property deals like John Prescott’s Pathfinder disaster of recent years.

That the BBC is now in Manchester (well Salford), Leeds, another media centre is central to a major BBC scandal and Newcastle is the place that Tories went in the 1960’s and 1970’s to prove that they were economic hard men to the media is purely coincidental. 

Dodd, if he were minded might remind Heseltine that Liverpool was once a great trading and industrial city, the Birmingham area almost the heartland of the engineering industries and Sheffield a once great diverse industrial city all in their own right and without much help from London.

But Heseltine, like any old man who cannot forget was going on about National this and National that.  What he does seem to have forgotten that the over mighty prominence of London is largely down to his own party when he was a minister and in his early manhood as a businessman based in London and promoting its centrism.

What made me want to throw a brick at the screen was when he started out talking of the challenges and National needs of World War II.  This was seventy years ago, when we still had an Empire and when the world was a very different place.  Whether they liked it or not, sacrifice and community ideology was forced on people

It occurs to the majority of people, old and young, with even half their wits still in place that today is almost literally another planet in human terms.  There may be some remote spots where relatively little has changed, but they are remnants and cannot escape the intrusion of a wider world.

In the UK we have a different population in terms of demographics, origin, religion, education, media facilities and a lot more and an industry and economy that is radically different in structure and employment patterns as well as income distribution.  It is not just “diverse”, it is divergent.

Also, ownership of property has radically changed and the effects it has on the economy, finance and expectations.  Equally the ownership of a great deal of the economy, private and public is either owned by foreign organisation or by others who have financial arrangements that mean they pay little UK tax.

The cult of modern management and figures driven extractive finance forced on us by the likes of Heseltine and his friends in all parties has led us to our present state. 

That all he and apparently Cameron his Diddyman (see Dodd’s act) can come up with National plans, National initiatives, State money and control and dear Zeus the exhumation of the remains of Regional bodies of the past that messed up just about everything they touched is a pathetic reminder of the past.

Heseltine was talking about leaving no stone unturned.  One anecdote of Ken Dodd’s was that he loved birds and sometimes would go down to the beach at Dingle (in joke that) to throw stones at them.  The punch line was that he left no Tern unstoned.

If we are to recruit pensioner power to manage the economy we would be a lot safer listening to Ken Dodd than the likes of Michael Heseltine.

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