Like fading powers of the past, Britain shows signs of being in terminal decline | Will Hutton

The case for reform is plain to see but it won’t happen because too many at the top have stakes in the old order

It was a glorious September morning. But I was in a ruminative mood, walking towards Westminster’s Church House for the unveiling of another damning account of Britain’s economy. It was the launch of the interim report from the Institute of Public Policy’s (IPPR) economic commission. Time for Change is one of the best I’ve read and yet I was wondering how its unanswerable assessment of our economy and the need for systemic reform has so little purchase on the national debate.

I made similar arguments in my book The State We’re In 20 years ago and have attended many such launches ever since, often graced by bishops and some daring business executives prepared to break cover and speak out. It’s the same story of underinvestment; a woeful track record on R&D; overemphasis on high, short-term profits; an incredibly poor record on productivity and stagnating real wages. On almost every international comparison, Britain fares badly, with a desperately weak export sector overfocused on financial services and a few manufacturing industries.

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