“You create the world class companies. But in a thousand ways, the decisions that we take in Government can help you or hinder you. So we too are part of Britain’s competitiveness. All our policies – not just our economic policy – need to be focused on the future strength of the British economy.”
John Major. The Prime Minister. CBI Annual Dinner 1993
Despite everyone’s best efforts for the best part of half a century, the United Kingdom had fallen from third in real income per head in 1950 to tenth in Europe by the 1980s.
Even after a period of rapid growth, fuelled in part by a Government programme of privatisation and tax cuts, a grim reality was becoming part of the public consciousness (particularly in government circles). The UK still lagged significantly behind their international rivals. It was this steady economic decline that faced the re-elected Conservative Party in 1992, when a slim majority returned John Major to power.
This Chapter tracks the rise of the small firm in the late Eighties, culminating in a seismic shift in government industrial policy. The resulting Competitiveness movement opened a generation long age of intervention.
Shoots and Roots explains why Government industrial policy shifted away from large business and how small and medium sized businesses became the perceived saviour of the economy.