The UK’s industrial strategy fails to ask the essential questions

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Progressive Pulse began as a spin off form this blog, but now has a vibrant life all of its own. That is very clearly demonstrated in a blog post on it published today. Written by Mike Parr (who also comments here on occasion) this tears the new UK government 'Industrial Strategy' to shreds.

Mike has done what few will ever do, which is read the whole thing. His summary of his findings makes for depressing reading, saying:

The “Industrial Strategy” mixes strategy with tactics, with the latter overwhelming any sense of strategy. There should have been two documents:

  1. A strategy document: max 10 pages which would have identified What’s wrong (there must be something wrong otherwise why bother with an Industrial Strategy after 50-odd years) why is it wrong – from this will flow what needs to be done to set the “wrong” – “right”.

  2. A tactical document would flow from the strategy & might break down into several papers on different subjects/sectors.

He continues:

The “Industrial Strategy” contains a great deal of wishful thinking. In a key part of the Strategy, the UK is positioned as bursting with ideas (which it might be) and the core problem is correctly identified as turning ideas into successful UK companies (and UK employment). However, this latter point (why ideas don’t lead to successful British companies) is not addressed. The paper never asks itself: “if the UK is bursting with innovation & has been for 50 years – where are all the innovative UK companies?” Because the “What’s wrong?” question was never asked – the follow-on questions “where are they” and “why have they not emerged”, with respect to innovative UK companies, is never posed.

This goes to the heart of the document – it is not an “Industrial Strategy” it is a shopping list (perhaps not so surprising given the current government thinks national economies function like corner shops). The Strategy takes a descriptive, almost scatter-gun approach,  to describing small amounts of government activity. From an ideological perspective this makes sense, since to pose fundamental questions (what went wrong) would expose much of the hollowness of the government’s ideology and activity (or lack thereof) with respect to the economy over the last 40-odd years.

And from there it shows how this document, eighteen months in the making, will not be the basis for reviving the UK economy.

I recommend the whole piece. You will end up asking, as I did, 'just what is this government doing?'. Mike's blog suggests it's wasting paper and effort for no good return.