A Time For Choosing

a time for choosing

A Time For Choosing – Free Enterprise in Twenty-First Century Britain
By The Free Enterprise Group
edited by Kwasi Kwarteng, Ryan Bourne & Jonathan Dupont
Palgrave Macmillan – £15.99

Other than an altogether compulsive segment in the book’s Introduction under the heading ‘ Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste’ (which quotes both Eric Hobsbawm and The Guardian’s Will Hutton among others), I personally found the most engaging part of this book to be certain sections of the final chapter (of six), ‘ Crossroads.’

By way of addressing a number of overtly substantial issues such as internationalism, sociology, economics, human behaviour and the importance, centralisation and ever increasing expansion of London; the three editors of A Time For Choosing – Free Enterprise in Twenty-First Century Britain (Kwasi Kwarteng, Ryan Bourne and Jonathan Dupont), bequeath many a reader with a surprising array of unsuspecting, economic curve balls.

The kaleidoscopic sort of which, I suspect, many won’t even see coming. Reason being, up to said point, the previous (five) chapters have all been ever so semi-slyly, yet solipsisticaly sensible in their dense deliberation. Indeed, some might argue they make for such intuitive reading, that one cannot help but wonder why the three editors weren’t asked to re-write The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s last Budget Manifesto.

In ‘A New Beveridge’ for instance, they write: ”As Beveridge knew, work is the ultimate form of welfare. ‘Idleness’ is not an evil just because it makes people poor, but because it leads to increased depression, crime and broken families. The only sustainable means to get people out of poverty is to give them the self-respect of a real job.”

Really? Who’d have thought it?

Now Hear This.
Now Hear This.
Cameron’s Cabinet (Messrs. Osbourne, May, Hammond and Letwin especially) really ought to take note of such intrinsically important, sensible words; especially if they want to re-dress the balance of Family Tax Credit(s) and the re-distribution w(st)ealth and welfare.

But returning to the subject in hand, which predominantly focuses on London, the editors collectively write: ”Cities often confront us with the sharp distinction between rich and poor, living a few streets apart but completely different lives. In both developing and developed countries, however, it is not that cities make people poorer. It is the reverse – cities attract the poor as they seek to become rich. For centuries, people have travelled from countryside to city as they seek to make a new life.

Nowhere, of course, reflects all these trends more than London […]. London in not just surviving globalisation, it is thriving on it. It has become a hub of hubs – a crossroads – for the whole world […]. London has become so successful that many worry it is starting to leave the rest of the UK behind. Londoners earn on average around a third more than the rest of Britain, are four times more likely to have been born abroad and are significantly more likely to have a degree.

Has this success been bought by ‘draining the life’ from the economy? Should we try to rebalance the economy towards the north?”

As mentioned at the outset, the above, if not most of the chapter as a whole, really is rather engaging – especially given the subject matter. In part, because other than informing the reader, the quotation itself invites the reader to think for him or herself.

A quality, which in this day and potentially torpid age of sound-bite ideology aka Twitter, can only be a good thing.

David Marx

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