Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna criticise Government’s industrial strategy in Independent article

Vince Cable has teamed up with Chuka Umunna in an Independent article that warns of the likely consequences if Vince’s former department of Business, Innovation and Skills suffers the massive cuts predicted. It’s not a protected department, so its budget could be cut by up to 40%. That would make it difficult to continue Vince’s successful industrial strategy:

One of the positive legacies of the Coalition government was the establishment of an ‘industrial strategy’ with the same objectives. It was successful in attracting a lot of support from business in general and in key sectors like automotive, aerospace, bio-tech, creative industries, energy and railway supply chains and construction. In vehicles and aerospace, especially, a large amount of private sector and government money was committed to R&D. The approach was flexible, accommodating and welcoming of disruptive technologies and the emergence of new industries. Before the election, the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems (and the SNP) subscribed to the industrial strategy.

There has been a deafening silence since. We are now past the first 100 days: the government’s honeymoon. There is no excuse for lack of clarity over a key area of government policy. There may be an innocent explanation: a wish by the Conservative government to rebrand the industrial strategy as part of its ‘Long Term Economic Plan’, while work quietly proceeds in the background. A more worrying possibility is that the ideologues in government have got their teeth into it believing, against all previous experience, that market failures will correct themselves and that the UK economy will achieve balanced, sustained, recovery thanks to resurgent banking and app start-ups in Shoreditch.

They go on to look at four areas that they say that the industrial strategy must cover, all of which are crucial to long-term economic health: training, innovation, business finance and a long-term approach, before concluding:

We are not rushing to judgement on this government though the silence is ominous. There is a need and an opportunity to address some of the deep rooted weaknesses of the UK economy. The industrial strategy provides a ready-made platform to do so. We shall see whether a long term commitment to the national interest takes precedence over short term expediency and ideological prejudice.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • A lot of sense coming from Vince Cable. The lack of an industrial policy that redresses some of the dependence on debt fuelled bubble growth has been long term problem for Britain.

  • John Tilley 4th Sep '15 - 4:22pm

    Vince has moved from being in favour of completely scrappng this Department (which was his stated policy before 2010) to his present position of being against 40% cuts?

    The logic is not obvious.

    It was never obvious why The Orange Bookers wanted to cut areas of government expenditure which supported the poor but were happy to spend £ Billions on a Government Department whose main aim seems to be support millionaire oligarchs some of whom do not even pay their taxes. (I do not include Vince in that lot even though he wrote a chapter in that book).

    How come the people who believe in “market forces” are happy to use public money to prop up badly run UK businesses?
    Why can ‘t these so-called private enterprises stand on their own two feet?

    If some UK “business leaders” spent more of their own time and money on their businesses instead of intervening in politics, fnding UKP and The Conservatives to force us out of the EU they would not have to keep going to the Governent with begging bowls to prop up their low productivity, backward looking cartels.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 4:35pm

    Jo Swinson | Thu 27th August 2015 – 5:20 pm Even with a five year parlaiment some policies need more time, especially in basic science.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 4:36pm

    John Tilley 4th Sep ’15 – 4:22pm Even with a five year parliament some policies need more time, especially in basic science.

  • John Tilley 4th Sep '15 - 4:54pm

    Richard Underhill
    Would this help jog your memory? —

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 5:26pm

    John Tilley 4th Sep ’15 – 4:54pm Thank you.The article states that Vince Cable’s opinions changed over time, but the man himself said that as a Labour councillor in Glasgow he was preaching socialism, while teaching free markets at work.
    He was our Chancellor candidate, so maybe he wanted the role of the department to be subsumed into the Treasury.

  • Sounds like the need for a proper sensible assessment of Corbyn’s QE policy instead of the usual knee jerk loony left abuse stuff.

    David Blanchflower supports it so it has to be taken seriously. I would rather QE was used creatively for industrial development than for bailing out the bankers who messed everything up in the first place. Would love to know what the Orange Bookers would have said in 1929 when LLG and Keynes challenged orthodox monetary thinking.

  • John Tilley 5th Sep '15 - 7:15am

    Richard Underhill 4th Sep ’15 – 5:26pm
    “He was our Chancellor candidate, so maybe he wanted the role of the department to be subsumed into the Treasury.”

    Richard, if you read The Independent article he seems to be saying exactly the opposite. I may be completely missing his point but he seems to be saying he is against merger with Treasury.

    My question is why do we have a huge Department of State (which we used to call Trade and Industry) for Business?

    Business leaders in this country are constantly calling for the state to be cut back and for government spending to be reduced. So why not give them what they want and scrap this department ?

    We could also scrap all those ridiculous Royal Visits which we are told “boost industry” abroad when in fact all they seem to do is maximise the chances for Prince Charles/Andrew/Edward to be an embarrassment.

    Scrap all those “Queens Awards to Comfortable Fat Cats” or whatever they are called nowadays.

    Just treat Business Leaders in exactly the same way that Mr Duncan Smith treats the poor.

  • david thorpe 5th Sep '15 - 7:52am

    Cable used to be of the view that the department should be abolished-and therefore the budget nwould be zero pounds-does he explain anywhere in the article why he now sees the department as needing all this money more than the zero pounds he once though appropriate? i mean yes when he was minister there he wanted the money-of course he would-it made his job more important-but o had assumed his view before he entered government was his sincerely held one-after all in thisbirght new dawn for the liberal democrats stuff that happened in government is wiped out and we go back to our posiitobs before that right? the fact that cable hasnt means that either the coaltion view on there being a department for business was the right one, or that he now acknowledges he was wrong when he called for its abolition, i think we should be told

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