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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you care about Britain, you must read this book, 26 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
In this book Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson offer a detailed examination both of the current state of the nation, and how we got here - going as far back as 1914 - much of which will be familiar if you have read Correlli Barnett's four books on the period.

In Chapter Three they offer twelve 'indicators' of Britain's descent into third world status, all of which is both as comprehensive as it is destressing.

In examining what steps the country might take to avoid this long descent into basket case status, the authors - in Chapter 8 'Desperately seeking Sweden, or FreeportHo!' - offer a detailed examination of the possible economic models the country might adopt which, as the chapter head indicates, boils down to a choice between something like the Swedish - high tax - social democracic model, or the US - low tax - free market model.

The problem - hinted at by the authors - is that we have never been offered a grown-up debate about these options; quite the reverse, governments are busily in pursuit of what the US Reaganite neocons called "Do less, make it seem like more" displacement activity, suggesting that the coalition is either unaware of the problem, or, more likely, they are - as Ha-Joon Chang recently argued in The Guardian - very happy to continue with a 'system' which preserves the "one per cent" in their plutocracy.

In leaning towards the Swedish model, the authors may not have taken into account the probability that Britain is now a much more Thatcherite country than it was when the Lady first coined the defining 'philosophy' of the coming era: "there's no such thing as society".

If the British Social Attitudes 26th Report is to be believed Thatcherism now has much more support that it had in the 1990s.

The missing dimension, however, is the elephant in the Thatcherite room: free market globalisation.

Governments are now, arguably, governing for the 6000+ Davos People who are beyond the reach of national governments, but on whom governments depend for favours.

It is this phenonomenon which Zygmunt Bauman calls "Standortkonkurrenz" - competition to lower taxes so that global capital will set up shop where taxes and regulations are at their lightest.

They will, however, be less than keen to set up in a country where educational standards, and a certain style of libertarian culture, tend to not to be to employers liking.

The authors are right to emphasise both the educational failure and the message sent out by "talent show wanabees" -

"That modern Britain is failing large numbers of people desperate to better themselves and gain respect ... muddling through represent a choice in itself, and will almost certainly lead to a more rapid descent into developing status."

Given the characteristics of the current political élite it's very difficult to envisage this 'rapid descent' being brought to a halt.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to read this book.
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