Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Does Cameron agree with this?

The Policy Exchange, Cameron's favourite think-tank, has advocated an abandonment of regional strategy and suggests that we should all move down south instead....

This isn't going to happen. I'm not going to look at the various reasons as to why this is not a sensible idea. What is clear is that this proposal would be unpopular in the South. It would mean huge amounts of building across the green belt. It would certainly threaten the so-called green strategy of the Conservatives. And how exactly would it fit with the development of stable and supportive communities and greater social cohesion and participation if we are all living in new towns? Not to mention the quality of life in heavily built up areas far from the coast. I can't somehow think that people in those areas would be happy to suddenly find a million new houses created around them. The tendency would be to create very inward-looking and privatised residential areas - which wouldn't contribute to the sort of social setting the conservatives supposedly support.

The answer is to move jobs to people, but that requires something other than the workings of the free market, which does not create anything approaching sustainability or coherence. Sadly, much regional policy has also been equally inept.

Oh, and all the authors of this report are based in London!

And there seems to be an assumption that everyone can be prosperous. Not the case. Capitalism requires winners and losers. You would simply shift problems elsewhere.


David Duff said...

Well I agree with it!

If the government just left the whole thing to the market then businesses would probably gravitate to the South East but that would cause land values, rents, wages, etc, to increase, and along with increasing infrastructure difficulties, that would gradually make the South East less attractive, and other areas where land, etc, is cheaper, more attractive. As always, whenever a government (any government) attempts to second guess the market, all it does is twist and distort.

Merseymike said...

Only Cameron clearly doesn't....but you have a point. If you believe in market forces as positive (I don't) then you will think this will be a logical outcome.
Thing is, this has already happened and regeneration strategies merely redress the balance. There are already considerable infrastructure difficulties in the south-east, caused largely by the market and successive governments who believe it to be beneficial. Regeneration strategies end up being reactive attempts to deal with the failures of the market.

The Tories appear to me to be anything but libertarian under the Cameron leadership: we will simply have a different style of interventionism. For that we should be thankful, although it means many of the limitations of the current regime ' will continue.

I'd have been more intrigued if Cameron and Grayling (who I used to know in my teens!) had welcomed the report.

David Duff said...

I have no views concerning the policies of a future Cameron government because so far he has skilfully avoided proclaiming them, to the point where I wonder if he has any!

As to the main point, it is, it seems to me, a proper job of government to provide infrastructure *where it is required*, rather than attemting to place a cart in front of a horse by placing it where it, the government, decrees (usually never very far from potential voters!)

Governments should wait until the market decides and then step in to do what it has to do to support the existing state of affairs.

Merseymike said...

Which is the traditional Conservative view - or perhaps even small-l Victorian liberal. However, I am neither, so, no. I think markets are there to be used but certainly cannot be relied on - which is why I am a proper social democrat, unlike New Labour!

Ted Harvey said...

David Duff with respect what you put in your opening post is typical psuedo science that comes out of the mystic minds of right-wingers who need a substitute belief set. That's OK, I'm all for cultural diversity - but it's a religion, an irrationality, it's not rational thought process. Markets are entities of the human condition that we create, manage, manipulate and utilise - they are not some magic free entity all of their own.

On the Policy Exchange paper it's a long time since I found a supposedly serious commentary to be so execrable.. For me it fails at every level. Its badly written and factually wrong in places, it's outmoded (just who exactly in UK regeneration is trying to recreate the 19th century model of city port?), it lacks intellectual honesty (i.e. the seriously negative take on London as a place to live and work that one of the German-soon-off-to-Oz authors has written up for the German press)... it's inconsistent (i.e. wants more power to local councils, but also wants local councils to be directed from the centre on allocation of social housing) and that is just a few throw-away examples.

Incidentally, I found it curious that the authors described Aneurin Bevan's words about the private health consultants and having to "stuff their mouths with gold" as "somewhat capitalist". An interesting take that on what capitalism is about.

And of course it was hilarious the way that David Cameron had to disown this from his favourite think tank... becuase... err... he was touring North England cities at the time... OOPS!