Rupert Darwall: Green Welly Tories dig #Brexit industrial policy black hole.

Posted: January 15, 2018 by tallbloke in Accountability, Big Green, Energy, EU Referendum, government, greenblob

energy_cleaning_3057805The May government’s greenwashing is classic displacement activity. Productivity numbers released by the Office for National Statistics earlier this month should be front and centre of every government policy. Normally productivity growth falls in a recession but then bounces back to the previous trend, the ONS says. This time it didn’t. If productivity had returned to its pre-downturn trend, output per hour would have been very nearly 19.8 per cent higher. Imagine – workers’ pre-tax incomes one fifth higher; a fast-disappearing budget deficit; a government able to cut taxes and provide more resources for the NHS – taxing plastic cups won’t solve the NHS winter crisis – and more money for schools. A strong economy would sail through Brexit and not have ministers quivering in their boots. Instead the conversation is about disposable cups and plastic waste.

A large chunk of Mr. Hammond’s job was shunted off to Greg Clark when he was given the task of fashioning an industrial strategy at the new business, energy and industrial strategy department. A white paper to that effect duly appeared last month, but in last week’s pointless reshuffle, the Prime Minister tried and failed to give his job to someone else. Perhaps the IS white paper hadn’t cut the mustard, for it is a recipe for de-industrialisation dressed up as a post-industrial strategy.

the government had asked Professor Dieter Helm to carry out a cost of energy review. Should ministers decide to stick to current policies, Helm concluded:

‘It will continue the unnecessary high costs of the British energy system, and as a result perpetuate fuel poverty, weaken industrial competitiveness, and undermine public support for decarbonisation.’

Boosting industrial competitiveness is entirely absent from the Industrial Strategy. The reason is straightforward. Ministers are pushing forward with a clean energy strategy they know means soaring energy costs. ‘Our long-term goals are to make clean technologies cost less than high carbon alternatives,’ the government says, i.e., having more clean energy and less hydrocarbon energy will keep pushing up costs for the foreseeable future.

Inevitably this will make British industry even less competitive. Manufacturing is inherently energy intensive. It is also a source of nearly three million well-paying jobs. The White Paper concedes that industrial firms are paying up to around 80 per cent more for energy than their overseas competitors.  The 2017 manifesto had set the ambition for Britain to have the lowest energy costs in Europe. That’s being dumped to be replaced by a feeble throwaway line on reducing costs ‘where appropriate.’

High costs and scarcity are hallmarks of deep green thinking and the White Paper shows how far Mr. Clark’s business department has succumbed to it.  Tory ministers are deceiving themselves if they think the environment will hand them an electoral triumph in four years’ time. Their unremitting focus should be on the economy and solving the productivity puzzle. A good place to start is to bin Greg Clark’s de-industrialisation strategy White Paper. Otherwise it’s the politics of a wing and prayer.

Rupert Darwall is the author of Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex

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  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    And the Beatings will continue until Moral improves.

    Please Sir, a little more ? …………………………………pg

  2. hillario says:

    Some comfort (if the UK still has significant trade with the EU post-Brexit): the rest of Europe is doing the same thing, call it the Great Productivity Destruction era

  3. Stephen Richards says:


  4. Phoenix44 says:

    There is some truth to this but a lot of nonsense too. Pre-crisis productivity was nowhere near what was claimed, as it had been artificially boosted by both state spending (e.g. nearly doubling NHS and education spending shows up as nearly doubling productivity in those ares), and productivity in the financial sector which was artificially boosted by short-term profits that became very large losses.

    Post-crisis productivity has not picked up as unemployment has stayed low – the highest productivity we could have would be just the most productive person in the UK working. But that wouldn’t do much for taxes and the NHS would it?

    Getting low skilled people into work reduces AVERAGE productivity but does not reduce my existing productivity in any way, nor does it reduce the increase in my productivity – it does reduce the average though. Total production still increases though, and that is actually what matters – productivity is the only measure at full employment, not when you have unemployment.

  5. oldbrew says:

    If they want the lowest energy costs in Europe, this is one way forward.

    Spending billions on wind power will never do it.

  6. craigm350 says:

    Hillario – I think they would prefer to call it the Great Destruction Protocol that way they can say with a straight face they are focusing on GDP 😂

  7. J Martin says:

    The only viable way to get so called clean energy costs to a financially affordable and competitive level is to boost the contribution of nuclear to accommodate all base load, all heating and all transport energy requirements.