Saturday, 5 February 2011

Strategy, structure and big 'ol titt!es

As Alan Johnson proved politicians are rarely the best when it comes to economics, but they do try and talk a good game. Hence, Nick Clegg’s speech outlining how government is “determined to foster a new model of economic growth, and a new economy”. Key to this and every piece of shit politician’s speech is their use of the word “billion”*, a number that in our national lottery age represents more than most ordinary punters could ever imagine having.

Politicians know this so deliberately use “billion” to convey the seriousness and/or importance of things e.g. a debt measured in billions is a big and serious debt – cue stern faces all round. Similarly, a government initiative costing a billion – cue open hand gestures, gentle taps on lectern then a statement pronounced in a slightly higher pitched voice – means the government is serious about something. Except, when it comes to establishing a “new model of economic growth” a billion is fuck all so by implication the point of Clegg's speech - to present the notion that the current government's economic policy is about more than spending cuts - was a bag of shite.

To illustrate why here’s an concrete example of what a billion and some change will actually get you - in 2009 this company owned 42 UK hotels and conference venues in the UK as well as a chain of gyms. Am guessing the bulk of this was financed, ignoring the equity, with the £1.4bn mentioned in the article. So on a rule of thumb basis £1.4bn will buy you 42 hotels and conference venues plus some gyms.

Now back to Nick Clegg – “The Government is also committed to the creation of a Green Investment Bank, with funds of at least £1 billion, to enhance the necessary investment in low-carbon growth”. There’s lovely, except that’s not even enough to buy 42 hotels and conference venues let alone some gyms. Green economic revolution? You're 'avin a turkish mate.

But, s’ok cos Nick also said “We have announced an investment of more than £200m over the next four years in a network of technology and innovation centres, modelled on the German “Fraunhofer Institutes”. Really? So will these also do things like establish the deep infrastructure of skills, contacts, knowledge, reputation, training etc., that actually underpins the competitive advantage German’s mittelstand of mid-tech engineering and manufacturing companies have and we don’t due to the structural decline of manufacturing in Britain? I don’t fucking think so. Howzabout instead of yet another mickey mouse be seen to be doing something scheme we add the £200m to the Green Bank’s £1bn, then see if we can negotiate to buy 42 hotels and conference centres instead (but without the gyms)?

Oh, but hang on reading to the fag end of the speech it turns out we’re also establishing a “£1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund”. At fucking last, finally the government is so serious about something its establishing a fund big enough to buy 42 hotels and conference centres AND some gyms. Now we know they mean business (or is this regional growth fund made up of money taken from other initiatives?),

Back to the bullet points in Clegg’s speech though cos they sound lovely, except they're actually fucking pants.

He said: "Weaning ourselves off debt-financed growth, and onto investment-led prosperity" – Cool, except debt is used to finance investment, you can’t have either or like fer instance am guessing the Green Investment Bank will gear up each of its investment with debt as a matter of course.

He also said: "Investing in the ‘hard’ infrastructure that underpins growth, such as transport" – Cool 2x, except that’s just tarting up the fact the only fucking infrastructure spending left is on roads as opposed to additional, mad mental wasteful shit like schools. ut, he did get to say "hard", oo-er missus etc.,

Then he said: "Cultivating the ‘soft‘ infrastructure made up of knowledge, skills and education that businesses need" – Cool 3x, except how the fuck do you reconcile that with the changes to university funding? Simple. You don’t cos you can’t.

Finally, he said: "Balancing regions and sectors, instead of putting all our economic eggs in one basket" – Cool 4x except as the local authority spending review in England and Wales made clear and as public sector spending cuts will exacerbate over the next 3 years at least, those regions more reliant on the public sector are humped, which will create ever greater regional imbalances when it comes to things like unemployment, wage levels, health, quality of life and so on (but, it will also fuck scousers so not all bad)

And it turns out “Tim Stone, chairman and founder of KPMG's Global Infrastructure and Projects Group” is advising government on its national infrastructure plan, which is like turkeys asking Bernard Matthews (god rest his soul) for diet tips. Nah, all a pile of fucking shite really.

As for the alternative, the “promise” shite Labour is coming out with is almost too depressing for words. First they ripped off the US Democrats with the squeezed middle and now they’re ripping them off with that shit an’all, What a useless bunch of spod-led cocks too wank to even come up with their own empty fucking rhetoric. Instead, all we’re left with is a dismal reality where things like this, as a fabulous person I know pointed out to me are happening.

* This point originates in some comedy thing Nigel Planer did years back I think called the "Actor's Studio with Nicholas Craig"

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