Boris Johnson must not turn into the new Macmillan - by David Young for the Telegraph

David Young, Baron Young of Graffham, was Trade and Industry Secretary under Margaret Thatcher from 1987-89 and provides a historic perspective on the challenges facing Britain. He urges Boris Johnson not to repeat the mistakes of his post-war predecessor Harold MacMillan by reviving the failed experiment of a centrally-planned economy.


We also include the article as an addendum to our editorial piece on vocational training which can be found under our education section.


"I entered government in 1979, on the first day of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, as a special advisor to Keith Joseph, the then industry secretary. It was a world unrecognisable to anyone today, one of confiscatory taxes and endless strikes (it was only shortly after the infamous Winter of Discontent in which the entire public sector, including a large part of the NHS and local government, had gone on strike for weeks). It was also a world where we were humiliatingly dismissed as the “sick man of Europe”, the IMF had to come to our rescue and unemployment was about to soar to heights inconceivable today.


Of course, this is a depressing piece of history, but why should that concern us today? Yes, our decline was brought about by trade union dominated Labour governments, but it was also tolerated, if not actively encouraged, by the Conservative governments of the day, governments that believed that only tripartite organisations, bringing together management, labour and voluntary organisations, could plan the economy.


I fear that Boris Johnson subscribes to the Macmillanite view that our economy can – and must – be planned through the actions of a powerful state, a development that threatens calamitous consequences. If there is one thing that remains stubbornly beyond our reach, it is the ability to simply plan a growing economy. Yes, it is possible and there is no better example than China, but to emulate them we would have to give up everything that we regard as essential in a free society. Managing a democracy is like trying to reverse an articulated vehicle, the most unexpected things happen when you try."


The article can be read in full here with a link to the original beneath it.



Article for the Daily Telegraph by David Young - Boris Johnson must not turn into the new
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