Monday, December 07, 2015

We know the "way" - but do we have the "will" to invest this time ?

I love my country otherwise I wouldn't live here. I don't have to - there are plenty of other, warmer, less introspective and divisive and more efficient places to live. And most would cost a lot less too! But I am British and there are British things that I love and would miss (I know, I've lived abroad a lot and I missed them). The magnificent BBC. Our Arts scene generally. Our media for all its warts. Our politics (God help me). The countryside. The sport. Real Ale. (Sorry getting a bit John Major now...). 

But one thing about Britain that annoys me a lot is our indecision. Each generation has a duty to create infrastructure for its successor generations. We must do it right - but we MUST do it. In the 1950s a series of complacent ill-lead Conservative  Governments relegated Britain to an also-ran status in respect of our industrial infrastructure. Our oh so recent enemies Germany and Japan established the capacity and the brands to lead the world. Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, AEG, Canon. And later the Amercans also innovated whilst we did nothing. Apple, McDonalds, Microsoft. Even the French without indigenous energy invested in a sustainable power generation sector when we faffed about and largely squandered our North Sea Oil inheritance. 

And here we go again. London is a great asset. The Olympics were symbolic of its global capital status. Indeed London is at the heart of our economic present and our future. But it won't be if we don't invest in it. Air travel is the key to this - we must have more capacity. I would expand Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted AND City. But let's get off the fence and get on with Heathrow as soon as possible. 

An expanded Heathrow, linked by CrossRail to the City in the East, is essential. So is HS2 linking London to the rapidly developing Birmingham and the North West. None of this is easy but we know the way. Do we have the "will"? This time let's hope we do! 


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