Tuesday, 19 June 2007

UK plc - For Sale? Petition the PM

One of my big bugbears in the last few years has been the large number of UK companies that have gone under the hammer often to companies from countries that do not reciprocate in the openness of their markets. The first one to really annoy me in that way was when Rowntree was bought out by Nestle in 1988. It was pretty much impossible to buy Swiss companies like Nestle, so I failed to see why we should have allowed them to buy up our assets. In 1988, this kind of transaction was a rarity but in the last few years big names like Abbey National, BAA, BOC, BPB and Pilkington have all gone to foreign owners. Not to mention many of our top football clubs!

It wouldn't matter that much if we produced big companies on a treadmill, as seems to happen with the US, but we don't.

Why does it matter?

Britain used to be the Workshop of the World but since the 1980's our manufacturing base has been dramatically reduced. In general, this hasn't been a bad thing as employment has moved to areas where Britain enjoys a comparative advantage and where we can add greater value and so earn higher wages. But these are precisely the kind of jobs that get lost when company headquarters get moved - management roles, technical roles in areas like accountancy, company law etc.

I also think that there is an issue about having a diversity of firms in an economy. I don't think becoming completely reliant on Financial services is a healthy thing. One day the City will go into recession as it did in 1990.

Anyway, there's a petition on the Prime Minister's website about this - not mine and I don't think it's particularly well worded but I think it's something that should be pushed up the political agenda. If you do too then visit the link below and sign it. You need to be a British citizen.

SaveUKplc petition.

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