Memo To: Margaret Beckett; From: Roger Liddle; Subject: Labour's Industrial Policy

By Liddle, Roger | New Statesman (1996), June 14, 1996 | Go to article overview

Memo To: Margaret Beckett; From: Roger Liddle; Subject: Labour's Industrial Policy


Liddle, Roger, New Statesman (1996)


How will industrial policy be different under Labour? Not a bad question to ask in the week the government produces its third Competitiveness White Paper, reporting annual progress on Michael Heseltine's pledge to intervene on British industry's behalf before breakfast, lunch and dinner. But not perhaps the easiest question to answer in a week when Kim Howells' appeal to embrace competition is branded an unqualified endorsement of Conservative economics, and John Prescott's Regional Policy Commission makes a string of proposals for industrial micro-interventionism.

Be in no doubt that Kim Howells starts from the right place. "Fairer and more vigorous commercial competition" is the best available means of making our industry more successful and enabling companies to create jobs.

While the Conservatives mouth the language of competition, their commitment to promoting it has been at best patchy--just look at the green papers on strengthening competition laws, published in 1989 and 1990 but shelved until a few months ago when they were recycled as another half-baked consultative paper. Yet to some on the left of centre, to attack the government for failing to push more competition is almost countercultural-a brazenly opportunistic attempt to out-flank the Conservatives on the right.

This attitude of mind ignores an important strand in Labour's past. For evidence I took down from the bookshelf my battered, second-hand, 1951 edition of Facts and Figures for Socialists (an impressive 450-page briefing from the Labour Party's Research Department). The Attlee government was not ashamed of its anti-monopoly rules: no longer "will monopolies be able to operate behind closed doors. Anti-social restrictive practices will be exposed and prohibited."

The 1948 Act setting up the Monopolies Commission would, according to the then president of the board of trade, the young Harold Wilson, "put an end to boycotts, stop lists and discrimination; deal similarly with loyalty rebates, special discounts and other forms of preferential terms" and give the government powers to address "conditional sales and other forms of conditional supply". Almost half a century later, our competition law is still too weak to make the spirit of these pledges effective. A good example is the continued abuse of market dominance in the deregulated bus industry, despite the Office of Fair Trading's strenuous efforts.

That some Labour spokespeople feel embarrassed in propounding the virtues of competition is yet another example of the deplorable statist legacy of the 1970s and 1980s. Yes, markets fail. But in that period Labour used the existence of market failures of justify an obsessive attachment to wholly inappropriate forms of public intervention. Too often Labour forgot that governments can fail as well as markets. Well-intentioned industrial policies were frequently captured by interest groups and manipulated by business people who became more adept at lobbying governments for orders, favours and subventions than winning market share. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Memo To: Margaret Beckett; From: Roger Liddle; Subject: Labour's Industrial Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.