Steve Rankin Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Steve Rankin

A great many things suffer during General Election campaigns.

Clear, unambiguous statements of what is best for the country and for our economic performance tend to be among them.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

Increasingly in recent decades, British governments seem to have failed to understand the distinction between governing and legislating.

One of the starker contrasts between ourselves and governments in many other European countries is the sheer welter of legislation, White Papers, Green Papers, Consultative Papers ( affecting all aspects of society, not just business ( that pours continually out of Westminster and Whitehall.

Paris, Berlin and Madrid are havens of legislative tranquillity by comparison.

And when `governing' becomes synonymous with `legislating', there are likely to be a great many casualties. It is certain, for example, that proper and efficient government is bound to suffer. A second, obvious consequence is that the pervasiveness of the state increases. Persistent over-regulation of all our lives is the result. And if the target is business, then the outcome is an inevitable reduction in competitiveness and all that this means for jobs and investment in the long run.

When you consider that, in the last eight years, 20-odd major items of labour law and over 60 kinds of tax have been imposed on business, it is not surprising that profitability ( especially in manufacturing ( is suffering, and overall business confidence is not as robust as it should be. …