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It's surely time for action not rhetoric.


THE end of summer sees the start of the political conference season, four weeks of debate and discussion that will undoubtedly have a bearing on such policies that are put in front of us as a precursor to next year's election.

The cynics may very well say that irrespective of what may or may not be agreed it will have little bearing on such policies that will be followed by a Government in office with the experiences that we have had of manifestoes being ignored or followed as is convenient, the promised referendum on Europe being but one example. The economy will inevitably be the battleground with accusation and counter claim. A starting point will have to be whether we are really on the road to recovery or is there more and worse to come? As we look to those parts of the world that are starting to experience recovery there is a significant common factor in that those economies have a larger manufacturing base as proportion of their economy than we have and a greater level of exports. The fall in the value sterling over the past 12 months has been seen as an opportunity for exporters, but as yet little has been delivered, perhaps a continuation of the situation that we still fail, with honourable exceptions, to produce what global customers want to buy, at a competitive price and on time. Past recessions have had a hidden benefit in sorting out the inefficient companies from those likely to survive and we may yet have some way to go in this respect.

This may be why the Government is reluctant to be confrontational with the City and in particular the banks. In the short term it is the City that will be our largest exporter, earning overseas currencies badly needed to support our continuing reliance on imports to meet the demands of our lifestyles and our diets. There is little doubt that the Banks have much to answer for and hopefully those ambitious politicians who have their eyes on power will realise that this is not a problem solved but merely a confrontation postponed.

And whilst all this is happening the 'British Disease' continues. Rail employees refuse to work on Sundays, MPs and public servants continue to claim extortionate expenses from taxpayers contributions and the differences between public and private sector ways of working become ever more marked.

An interesting month ahead but one in which I fear that, as ever, there will be much rhetoric but little decisive action that will be shared with the long-suffering public. Real policy will be decided behind closed doors. That is the way of UK democracy. Bill Midgley is a North East business executive and former chief executive of the British Chambers of Commerce
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2009
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