Sunday 11 September 2016

Fat & Lazy? Fox May Be Right

I have very little time for Liam Fox ("by their acolytes shall ye know them") but even a stopped clock can be fleetingly right, and this time I think he has a point.
Britain is "too lazy and too fat" with businessmen preferring "golf on a Friday afternoon" to trying to boost the country's prosperity, Liam Fox has said.
My early business experiences were in oil companies, which are no paragons, but haven't been brought up to believe the world owes them a living.  So it came as a shock, when I started doing business with the big heavy industrials in the north-east and north-west, to find them operating under the guiding principle: "why do a hard day's work when you can go lobbying instead?"

Seeing as it is now defunct - hardly a coincidence - I can finger ICI as the worst I encountered.  Any time they could bend the ear of the man from the government they would be letting it be understood how many jobs were for the axe if this or the other little tax-break, blind-eye treatment or other featherbedding wasn't continued.  Sometimes they'd even invent a new kind of 'special case' for favourable consideration.  When the man from the HSE or the Alkali Inspectorate etc came calling (and by heaven, they had good enough reason to poke their noses in: what went up the stack of ICI's old Wilton power station was outrageous) they'd get the same story: a gentle cough and "5,000 jobs" would be mentioned; and he'd go away sadder and wiser.

My firm was new on the patch.  When we had an environmental problem we quickly hatched a solution, but received a delegation from the local worthies.  If folks were to start fixing problems, they said - well, where would it all end?

This is only part of the story, of course, because Britain has many business success-stories of which we may rightly be proud.  But those that Fox is fingering need to shape up.


PS, I see Fraser Nelson has even more to say on the subject in the Speccie 


Anonymous said...

You have to be concerned about guys who would rather play golf than do..., well..., just about anything else that I can think of.

Scrobs. said...

The perception from here, is that brexit voters did so for others, wnile remainers voted for their own self-interest.

As our industrial base has gradually diminished over the years, (not just the fault of the EU), there is of course less to export, so what were waiting for is a new car manufacturer, a new computer business, a new vacuum cleaner designer/manufacturer etc.

As Mr Fox says, there needs to be the sort of business developers we used to have, who stuck their necks out. Most of my working life was in business development in property and building. We do need a motorbike industry, a washing machine industry, a train industry a drug industry etc as they need buildings and offices etc.

How long before the university student researchers, designers and scientists come out and become entrepreneurs?

Nick Drew said...

How long before the university student researchers, designers and scientists come out and become entrepreneurs?

well they all seem to be trying to figure out how to access 'commercial' opportunities to boost their funding these days - to what effect i don't really know

whenver you meet a 'Business School' student they are always brandishing some ultra-detailed 'business plan' that they are dead keen on 'executing' as soon as they graduate

I am guessing not 1 in a 100 actually does

Sackerson said...

Think of the postwar manufacturers who were happy to let their businesses be "cash cows" and continued to use sometimes 100-year-old machinery and tools, while the scorned Japanese were developing their "tinny" motorbikes that no-one was going to buy.

There needs to be a good retrospective on the UK's industrial troubles that includes the failures of management/owners - some of the latter people hoping that joining Europe would sort the problems without having to get their hands dirty.

hovis said...

I see very little of the fat lazy caracature in my own industry. I do see lots of time wasted on corporate idiocy of initatives and working groups which is arguably more profligate and useless in its waste of time.

hovis said...

On consideration the fat and lazy tag is in itself a lazy broad brush analysis which doesnt identify where the failings are more specifically.

Jan said...

I notice the BBC were quick to interview entrepreneurs who'd started their own companies who were rightly outraged. They're the ones adding wealth. It's the fat cats at the top of large corporates I'm sure he meant and I agree he has a point. These are not entrepreneurs. Many have ducked and dived their ways to the top and mean to stay there and live the easy life. They are an entirely different breed.

hovis said...

Jan .. different breed indeed - I have seen themselves self label as 'intrepreneurs' due to the different *skillset* needed to climb the corporate (greasy) pole

Anonymous said...

Fox is a model of the British establishment. Self-serving, without any experience of the portfolio he holds, and quick to get his nose into the trough. What he's got in for his friend Werritty is another matter.

You'll look back in a short period of time and say "I knew he was no good but everyone disagreed with me."

Meanwhile Brexit Bonkers continues. Local plumber quoting for a new bathroom said that if I wait, when we are out there won't be European flushes but a robust British one available.

The capacity for self-delusion is world class.

CityUnslicker said...

Fox is a bad communicator. I think he meant to shoot across the bows with a warning that remainers who voted EU for higher barriers to entry and regulation were in for a shock.

But as ever, he misses and gaffes instead.

The real let down is the public sector to me, local councils seem to have got their act together and some parts of Whitehall, but NHS and education as well as defence procurement is totally all about getting paid and blaming someone else for not doing anything. Nick I note mentions state subsidised industries, I see a simple solution to this miasma...

Anonymous said...

State sector pensions, CU.

A mate of mine is a recently retired PC and his pot would need to be £600k to generate what he's getting. No way he's paid that in 30 years.

Anonymous said...

I see Cameron has cut and run like the snivelling cur he is - he truly is the Heir To Blair, leaving the constituency he claimed to be fond of in order to leverage his contacts list into some serious money.

I've not really studied whether this "I didn't get the top job so I'm off" is something new, dating from say Bryan Gould losing a Labour leadership election way back and immediately decamping for New Zealand (David Miliband headed for NY), or whether it's always been this way. My impression is that in Elder Days Before The Fall a defeated pol would either devote themselves to the back benches (perhaps waiting for a comeback) or take ermine at the earliest opportunity a la Douglas-Hume or Eden.

He's also let the UK down by not staying on as PM after defeat in the referendum, despite explicitly saying he would. Although given the lousy deal he got from the EU pre-referendum, maybe he shouldn't have headed negotiations. But at least he could say to Juncker "I told you so, you fools!".

His legacy? The basket-case which is Libya - and the consequences - the Calais camp and those 35 dead Brits on a Tunisian beach.

hovis said...

CU the malaise goes far deep than the public sector, the NHS for example is structurally awful but also siomply a cover for producers whether they be self interested doctors or pharma and its cosy deals at fixed prices while the so called innovators and champions of corruption sorry I mean Britsh industry like GSK cream it in - two aides of the same bloated coin.