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The 1970s is calling: Can we have an industrial policy, please

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The 1970s is calling: Can we have an industrial policy, please

A rowdy PMQs today included this jibe from Keir Starmer: Rishi Sunak must “finally have met some working people in recent weeks,” said the Labour leader.

His shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves shouted out: “I doubt it. On the helicopter?”

Maybe the out-of-touch stuff wouldn’t stick so easily if it didn’t seem so widespread.

The government even looks distant from its supposed core support – big business.

The Times reports that lack of a proper industrial strategy has hindered manufacturing after a decade of Conservative “flip-flopping”.

The FT headline on the same story: Bosses demand long-term industrial policy, which makes it sound like anything would do, would be better than the present nothing.

The reader feels this story could come from 1975.

A report from manufacturing lobby group Make UK could hardly be more amusingly damning about the whole situation.

It notes: “Over the past fifteen years there have been fifteen different Secretaries of State responsible for industrial strategy..who together have launched six different plans for growth. And the Whitehall department responsible for managing industrial policy has been re-organised and re-named five times in that same period.”

There’s more: “Inconsistency in public policy breeds uncertainty in private industry. That prevents businesses from planning effectively so instead of incentivising investment, it incentivises intransigence.”

This is fairly abusive stuff from a body you suspect instinctively regards itself as Tory.

It is a policy failure rather than just a PR problem, but it is that too.

Business people could care less about Rishi’s helicopters, if they didn’t speak to a wider sense of him and his team hovering above most things, declining to actually get involved.

The risk to Labour is that the government gets it together just well enough, just in time.

But I can’t remember a period when this many senior business folk were so openly disillusioned with their government.

Press release of the day

A typical office worker will have sat at their desks for 53,000 hours by the time they retire, says this from Banner.

Jason Thomas, Strategic Sales Manager at Banner, says: “As it’s often cited that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert within a given field, most of us will be a pro at sitting five times over by the time we retire. With numerous health issues associated with long-term sitting, this is a growing concern for employers across the UK.”

Stories that will keep rolling

1) Is ITV benefitting from people ditching Netflix subscriptions?

2) Is today’s rise in interest rates the last? How did the voting go on the MPC?

3) What is the mood at the Rolls Royce AGM?

4) What could BT learn from Airtel Africa?


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