A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mr. Blair and the reality of globalisation.....

In his vigorous speech [full text here] presented yesterday afternoon to the annual Labour Party Conference at Brighton (6 minutes standing ovation), Mr. Blair demonstrated, yet again, that he is the only UK politician with a firm grasp of the modern world and of the choices that Britain needs to make to continue to prosper within it. By contrast, the Conservatives are a risible shambles, while the Lib-Dems are seriously split between the neo-liberals and the soggy-Green left and they cannot be taken as a serious party of government, being entirely unable to take difficult decisions.

Tony Blair knows that we have to be "an open, liberal economy, prepared constantly to change"; here are his forthright comments on globalisation (Guardianistas please listen and learn):
"I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalisation. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer [my emphasis]. They're not debating it in China and India. They are seizing its possibilities, in a way that will transform their lives and ours. Yes, both nations still have millions living in poverty. But they are on the move. Or look at Vietnam or Thailand. Then wait for the South Americans, and in time, with our help, the Africans.

All these nations have labour costs a fraction of ours. All can import the technology. All of them will attract capital as it moves, trillions of dollars of it, double what was available even 10 years ago, to find the best return. The character of this changing world is indifferent to tradition. Unforgiving of frailty. No respecter of past reputations. It has no custom and practice.

It is replete with opportunities, but they only go to those swift to adapt, slow to complain, open, willing and able to change [my emphasis]. Unless we 'own' the future, unless our values are matched by a completely honest understanding of the reality now upon us and the next about to hit us, we will fail. And then the values we believe in become idle sentiments ripe for disillusion and disappointment.

In the era of rapid globalisation, there is no mystery about what works: an open, liberal economy, prepared constantly to change to remain competitive. The new world rewards those who are open to it. Foreign investment improves our economy...

But there is a lesson here, too. The temptation is to use government to try to protect ourselves against the onslaught of globalisation by shutting it out - to think we protect a workforce by regulation, a company by government subsidy, an industry by tariffs. It doesn't work today.

Because the dam holding back the global economy burst years ago. The competition can't be shut out; it can only be beaten. And the greatest error progressive politics can make is to think that somehow this more open and liberal world makes our values redundant, that the choice is either to cling onto the European social model of the past or be helpless, swept along by the flow."

Bravo, Tony. It really is time to slap down those who would like Britain to be an isolationist, purist, subsidy-ridden, heritage, badger-filled, organic backwater, as utopian as Rupert Bear's Nutwood.

And Blair bravely points to a future with civil nuclear power.

Philip, off to the Great Wen to say farewell to a fine colleague, one who has done much to stem the tide of twaddle written about the Indian sub-continent and 'global warming'.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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