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Read this – so you know why the competitiveness stuff is wrong

It won’t take you long to skim this article but after you do you will be in a much better position to argue against George Osborne and the cut-business-tax-and-deregulate gang

In the current issue of Scottish Left Review STUC Assistant Secretary Stephen Boyd explains in straightforward terms why the usual neoliberal call to arms of ‘competitiveness’ is wrong. It is a simple enough read and will equip you to deal with all the arguments you will hear on the subject. It challenges Osborne but it also challenges the SNP; the idea that the basis on which Britain will become ‘more competitive’ is deregulation and lowering business costs simply seems to rest on nothing.

The short version is that we are told we need to act because other countries are overtaking Britain in the world league table of competitiveness. That is why we need to cut costs, reduce the state and reduce regulation. There are some pretty serious problems with the argument, however:

  • First, the competitiveness league table is questionable to say the least; big chunks of it are based on what a handful of leading businessmen think rather than on any real evidence.
  • Second, if deregulation works then the UK should already be invincible being one of the least regulated economies in the developed world.
  • Third, since all the countries which have overtaken the UK on competitiveness have higher regulation, a bigger welfare state and higher business taxes, if chasing them is the goal, doing the opposite from them seems a strange strategy.
It is very much worth a read. Afterwards you’ll never again feel like the business case for deregulation might have any merit.
Robin McAlpine