• Our booking engine at tickets.railforums.co.uk (powered by TrainSplit) helps support the running of the forum with every ticket purchase! Find out more and ask any questions/give us feedback in this thread!

UK Global trade discussion.

Status
Not open for further replies.

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
30,991
Location
Scotland
Mods note - split from this discussion:

Hooray for "global Britain" a.k.a everything being flogged off and/or going down the pan.
No, that's exactly the result of us not adapting to the technological and cultural changes of the last 30-40 years. The UK used to punch way above our weight because in the Victorian and Edwardian periods we embraced technology and had an outward looking viewpoint (and gunboats, mustn't forget the gunboats). The very notion that you're proposing - that we should cut ourselves off from the global communications network and be an island of Britishness with telephone operators screening our calls - is everything that has resulted in British businesses being takeover targets rather than expanding into the world.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
39,275
Location
Yorks
No, that's exactly the result of us not adapting to the technological and cultural changes of the last 30-40 years. The UK used to punch way above our weight because in the Victorian and Edwardian periods we embraced technology and had an outward looking viewpoint (and gunboats). The very notion that you're proposing - that we should cut ourselves off from the global communications network - is everything that has resulted in British businesses being takeover targets rather than expanding into the world.

Poor regulation and laissez-faire ideology are what has resulted in British companies being carpet bagged.
 

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
30,991
Location
Scotland
Poor regulation and laissez-faire ideology are what has resulted in British companies being carpet bagged.
While it's convenient to point the finger outwards, the decline of British companies has mostly been due to not adapting quickly enough to change.

As an example, "Clyde-built" used to be synonym for "quality" in shipbuilding, but in the 60's and 70's modular, welded construction started to take over from the traditional sheet and rivet manufacturing methods. Rather than making the investment in new plant and machinery to adapt to this construction method, British shipbuilding (by which I mean both the companies and the Government) stuck by the old methods and gave the shipbuilding industry to competitors overseas (e.g. Korea).
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
39,275
Location
Yorks
While it's convenient to point the finger outwards, the decline of British companies has mostly been due to not adapting quickly enough to change.

As an example, "Clyde-built" used to be synonym for "quality" in shipbuilding, but in the 60's and 70's modular, welded construction started to take over from the traditional sheet and rivet manufacturing methods. Rather than making the investment in new plant and machinery to adapt to this construction method, British shipbuilding (by which I mean both the companies and the Government) stuck by the old methods and gave the shipbuilding industry to competitors overseas (e.g. Korea).

By contrast, ARM designed and manufactured the best processor chip for mobile phones in the world, yet was still flogged off without so much as a bye-or-leave.

Cadburys made popular tasty treats, yet was still flogged off etc....
 

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
6,683
Location
Northern England
By contrast, ARM designed and manufactured the best processor chip for mobile phones in the world, yet was still flogged off without so much as a bye-or-leave.
Point of order — Arm do not design or manufacture specific processors. They design the architecture and instruction set, and then make money by licensing this technology to companies such as Qualcomm, Broadcom and MediaTek, who design and build the actual chips.

Also, to be fair, Arm has been sold to nVidia, who I'd say are a company of equal "prestige", and who have a clear strategic reason to own Arm in its current state, so it seems unlikely that it would be killed off or cheapened in any way
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
39,275
Location
Yorks
Point of order — Arm do not design or manufacture specific processors. They design the architecture and instruction set, and then make money by licensing this technology to companies such as Qualcomm, Broadcom and MediaTek, who design and build the actual chips.

Also, to be fair, Arm has been sold to nVidia, who I'd say are a company of equal "prestige", and who have a clear strategic reason to own Arm in its current state, so it seems unlikely that it would be killed off or cheapened in any way

Point taken.

However, it's still a company that's been sold off.
 

Bald Rick

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Sep 2010
Messages
29,313
Point taken.

However, it's still a company that's been sold off.

Sold by its owners. What has ownership got to do with “going down the pan” though? Taking ARM as an example, my very good friend who is a Director there says that the two changes of ownership have, so far, made things better in terms of how the company works and trades, and that means more jobs. Surely that’s a good thing?
 

HSTEd

Veteran Member
Joined
14 Jul 2011
Messages
16,904
Poor regulation and laissez-faire ideology are what has resulted in British companies being carpet bagged.

Well that is the deal the electorate made in 1979.
They could have short term relative prosperity in return for eating the seed corn.

And we've been living with it ever since.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
39,275
Location
Yorks
Well that is the deal the electorate made in 1979.
They could have short term relative prosperity in return for eating the seed corn.

And we've been living with it ever since.

I think there's an element of that.

Deep down, I think even Mrs T would be dismayed at the way things have gone. I can remember her outrage when BA tried to take the Union Flag motif off of their tail fins.
 

HSTEd

Veteran Member
Joined
14 Jul 2011
Messages
16,904
Deep down, I think even Mrs T would be dismayed at the way things have gone. I can remember her outrage when BA tried to take the Union Flag motif off of their tail fins.

Seemed to want it both ways.
Wanted a globalised free meerkat economy, but have it behave like it was not one.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
39,275
Location
Yorks
Seemed to want it both ways.
Wanted a globalised free meerkat economy, but have it behave like it was not one.

Which, to be honest is what most countries seem to want.

We're the only ones too stupid to take it literally and expect the "free market" to behave how we want it, without sufficient prodding.

We should have taken a leaf out of France's book decades ago.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
39,275
Location
Yorks
And what, exactly, should have been done to prevent this sale?

Anything. The French classify Danone as being of National strategic importance, even though it only makes yoghurt. They are the ones who are right, not us.
 

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
30,991
Location
Scotland
Anything. The French classify Danone as being of National strategic importance, even though it only makes yoghurt. They are the ones who are right, not us.
So you don't have a specific suggestion. Thanks.

Edit: So, having done some reading I cannot find anything that says that Danone has an official "national strategic importance" designation. Could you provide a link, please?
 
Last edited:

Cowley

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
15 Apr 2016
Messages
15,929
Location
Devon
Seemed to want it both ways.
Wanted a globalised free meerkat economy, but have it behave like it was not one.
Honestly if none of us have noticed this typo then we all need a sense of humour bypass operation because that was an absolute classic on so many levels. :lol:
 

nlogax

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
5,388
Location
Mostly Glasgow-ish. Mostly.
Edit: So, having done some reading I cannot find anything that says that Danone has an official "national strategic importance" designation. Could you provide a link, please?

I remember that happening back in 2005 as the French government was widely mocked for making that designation for a what was basically a yogurt company. Plenty of references to it out there.

https://www.cityam.com/theresa-mays-new-merger-powers-would-hostile-takeover-state/

In the US, Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium were imposed on national security grounds. And when France blocked the takeover of Danone by PepsiCo, it did so on the basis that Danone – the yoghurt company – was a “strategic industry” that should not be owned by a US company.
 

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
30,991
Location
Scotland
I remember that happening back in 2005 as the French government was widely mocked for making that designation for a what was basically a yogurt company. Plenty of references to it out there.

https://www.cityam.com/theresa-mays-new-merger-powers-would-hostile-takeover-state/
There were a lot of flowery speeches from representatives and government ministers about the alleged strategic importance, but I can't find anything that states than an actual official designation was made to that effect. That's a big difference.
 

nlogax

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
5,388
Location
Mostly Glasgow-ish. Mostly.
There were a lot of flowery speeches from representatives and government ministers about the alleged strategic importance, but I can't find anything that states than an actual official designation was made to that effect. That's a big difference.

This actually happened. Eleven strategic sectors and their associated protections were written into French law. In legal and media circles this was known as the 'Danone Law'. Bear in mind the below text is from 2006. What happened to this law since its inception is less certain and I may need to do more digging.

https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pub...legislation-aimed-at-regulating-takeover-bids

On 23 March 2006, the parliament finally passed the draft Bill (in French) on takeover bids (Projet de loi relative aux offers publiques d’acquisition), which is due to come into effect at the end of May. This legislation will incorporate, into French law, the European Parliament and Council Directive 2004/25/EC of 21 April 2004, setting out a common EU framework for takeover bids. It will also complement legislation passed in 1966, which sets out the entire set of regulations governing takeovers of public companies, as well as the 2001 Act on new economic regulations (FR0105156F). By introducing this new bill, the government hopes to reconcile the international dimension of French companies along with the attractiveness of Paris as a financial centre, with equitable measures designed to protect companies against bids perceived as hostile.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
39,275
Location
Yorks
So you don't have a specific suggestion. Thanks.

Edit: So, having done some reading I cannot find anything that says that Danone has an official "national strategic importance" designation. Could you provide a link, please?

I'd like to see a far more stringent test of public interest around all foreign takeovers, specific legal protections for strategically important industries along the French model and a general presumption against such takeovers.

This actually happened. Eleven strategic sectors and their associated protections were written into French law. In legal and media circles this was known as the 'Danone Law'. Bear in mind the below text is from 2006. What happened to this law since its inception is less certain and I may need to do more digging.

https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pub...legislation-aimed-at-regulating-takeover-bids

Cheers. I knew I could remember reading about it in the papers.
 

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
30,991
Location
Scotland
This actually happened. Eleven strategic sectors and their associated protections were written into French law.
Protecting sectors is not the same as protecting specific companies, which is what was originally claimed.
 

Sad Sprinter

Established Member
Joined
5 Jun 2017
Messages
1,875
Location
Way on down South London town
Well that is the deal the electorate made in 1979.
They could have short term relative prosperity in return for eating the seed corn.

And we've been living with it ever since.

Mrs Thatcher gets a lot of hate for a problem which she didn't actually cause. British deindustrialisation occured due to factors dating back to the 1860s-low productivity, lack of innovation etc. Post WW1-British industry enjoyed little competition and had begun to be riddled with industrial disputes-which probably did more to kill industry than Thatcher ever could. Don't forget-Upper Clyde Shipbuilders went under in Heath's era. Labour closed more pits in the 60s than the Tories did. By 1979, Britain's champions had become sadly unsustainable and propped up by subsidy-Thatcher at that point, really had no choice.

Now I can agree that if there was a way to turn around these industries, that would have been much better than leaving them to die-such as an alternative to the 1981 budget. But as of yet, I haven't seen an alternative to the Thatcherite agenda of bringing down inflation and curbing industrial disputes that were strangling the economy-she succeeded on both these fronts.

People also misunderstand Thatcher herself. She was not, as people suggest, a radical free-market capitalist. She was, actually, dismayed by what the City had turned into, and the wealth and consumer culture of the 1980s. Had British industry been in a stable and healthy position in 1979, I doubt she would have wanted it all the be sold off.

Even if Thatcher really didn't care about selling off our industry, then Blair cared even less. New Labour were pathologically terrified of, well...Labour. They clung to neo-liberalism probably more so than much of the Tories did, and huge swathes of British industry went under NL-even in an economic boom. Only Defence and Pharmaceuticals did they really care about.


Protecting sectors is not the same as protecting specific companies, which is what was originally claimed.

Although there is nothing wrong with this. No other major world economy will let its national champions be sold off and carved up as we do.
 

HSTEd

Veteran Member
Joined
14 Jul 2011
Messages
16,904
By 1979, Britain's champions had become sadly unsustainable and propped up by subsidy-Thatcher at that point, really had no choice.
If the privatisations had been limited to the likes of British Leyland and Steelworks you might have some case of that, but given that the steel industry still exists and large parts of British leyland survived into the 3rd Millenia (Rover etc), I am extrmely skeptical that the businesses actually were 'unsustainable'.

The fact is she sold off lots of things that were in no way badly run, see the CEGB, British Telecom, the gas board, the regional electricity boards, the water boards, and her protege did for the railway etc.
She did this because she was desperate for money to pay for the low taxes that won her elections.

She even sold off the state's supply of housing for a fraction of it's value simply to destroy it so it could not generate "labour voters".

Had British industry been in a stable and healthy position in 1979, I doubt she would have wanted it all the be sold off.
And yet she sold off plenty of healthy businesses as well, see the CEGB and the Gas Board.
She knew that low taxes would smash the state and make her popular, but they had to be paid for.

EDIT:

The Problem with Blatcherism is you eventually run out of things to sell.
Hence the latest hits being selling the system used to move fuel to military airfields, because there is nothing else after the Royal Mail was sold, again for a fraction of its potential value.
 
Last edited:

Sad Sprinter

Established Member
Joined
5 Jun 2017
Messages
1,875
Location
Way on down South London town
If the privatisations had been limited to the likes of British Leyland and Steelworks you might have some case of that, but given that the steel industry still exists and large parts of British leyland survived into the 3rd Millenia (Rover etc), I am extrmely skeptical that the businesses actually were 'unsustainable'.

The fact is she sold off lots of things that were in no way badly run, see the CEGB, British Telecom, the gas board, the regional electricity boards, the water boards, and her protege did for the railway etc.
She did this because she was desperate for money to pay for the low taxes that won her elections.

She even sold off the state's supply of housing for a fraction of it's value simply to destroy it so it could not generate "labour voters".


And yet she sold off plenty of healthy businesses as well, see the CEGB and the Gas Board.
She knew that low taxes would smash the state and make her popular, but they had to be paid for.

EDIT:

The Problem with Blatcherism is you eventually run out of things to sell.
Hence the latest hits being selling the system used to move fuel to military airfields, because there is nothing else after the Royal Mail was sold, again for a fraction of its potential value.

I broadly agree with what your saying. Utilities was a privatisation that she knew was unpopular, perhaps she could have got away without those sell-offs. However, in her mind, the shares would be owned by the consumers, i.e members of the public. This I think is a great model of privatisation in theory but she did not forsee that they would just become brought by the City/foreign interests.

Right to buy made a kind of sense in the 80s. The population wasn't really growing so again, in theory, there wasn't a problem with selling off the land. The trouble is she again, did not forsee the massive population growth 15 years later and again, New Labour must take the blame for the lack of home building in their 13 years of government.

I do think right to buy genuninely made a lot of people very happy and comfortable. It is just a faliure of collective government policy the supply wasn't replenished.
 

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
30,991
Location
Scotland
I do think right to buy genuninely made a lot of people very happy and comfortable. It is just a faliure of collective government policy the supply wasn't replenished.
And that was the failure - the money from Right to Buy should have been ring-fenced to improve the remaining social housing stock or provide new. But it was needed in the general fund to pay for the tax reductions.
 

ABB125

Established Member
Joined
23 Jul 2016
Messages
3,797
Location
University of Birmingham
The Problem with Blatcherism is you eventually run out of things to sell.
Hence the latest hits being selling the system used to move fuel to military airfields, because there is nothing else after the Royal Mail was sold, again for a fraction of its potential value.
What's being sold? I haven't heard anything about this, but I suppose that may be because the media outlets consider a virus to be more important!
 

HSTEd

Veteran Member
Joined
14 Jul 2011
Messages
16,904
What's being sold? I haven't heard anything about this, but I suppose that may be because the media outlets consider a virus to be more important!

Nothing has really been sold in the last two or three years, because there is nothing left to sell. Well apart from the continuing looting of the public housing stock through right to buy.

The last major privatisation was the GPSS and the Royal Mail.

The reason why the wheels have fallen off government policy even before coronavirus was the lack of anything more to sell to pay for more largesse.
 

HSTEd

Veteran Member
Joined
14 Jul 2011
Messages
16,904
So what is left? Print money or raise taxes?

Raise taxes, and try and undo the damage that has been done by creating a hollow state who's only option for enacting many public policy interventions is to pour public money into the pockets of a handful of big businesses who specialise in bleeding the public purse. And undo systems that create colossal bureaucracies trying to chase incredibly marginal gains in public service efficiency.

It is the work of decades, as it was the first time.

What it takes many generations to build, it only takes a single generation to destroy.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top