Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Enterprise and Vigour Are Our Selling Points; Opinion

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Enterprise and Vigour Are Our Selling Points; Opinion

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Rowley

JOIN me in my Soviet train carriage with red curtains, strips of light flickering on and off and stripe-patterned seats bowing under the weight of decades of Hungarian buttocks. The timetable says we are going from Sarajevo in Bosnia to the neighbouring country's capital, Budapest.

But right now we're going nowhere.

We've stopped again, at another station the environs of which hardly justify hamlet status. Come to that, "station" is a little overblown for the strip of tarmac a metre wide and barely 30cm above the rails. Opposite us are some industrial cylinders and a couple of bungalows. It is another unscheduled stop for an unexplained hour in a place I've never heard of.

And then we're off again, but not for long. Now cold, now warm, the air conditioning plays with us.

Pylons, track, track, pylons, fields. The rhythm of my day, interrupted only by passport checks. Again and again. A bulky Bosnian woman in a shiny cap hums sceptically. An elderly Hungarian conductor in navy pootles about with the haste of a funeral march.

Two hours later than scheduled and 13 hours after boarding, I reach the station and, after the traditional fleecing from a cabbie, I make my flight with 10 minutes to spare.

Back home, it transpires I wasn't alone in thinking myself back in the USSR this summer. The Government has been hammering away at its distinctly Soviet-sounding Industrial Strategy for Britain, which it is expected to unveil this afternoon.

Like the Reliant Robin of a period of British manufacturing we would rather forget, our economy has stalled. And so ministers have devised their own five-year plan to get it back on track: tractor production up, politically embarrassing interventions from Boris Johnson down.

But perhaps ministers need a strategy of their own. For businesspeople are increasingly complaining they see not leadership but a politburo of petulance: petty party squabbling and horse-trading rather than a coherent vision for growth. …

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