Digby Jones, Lord Jones of Birmingham, has written a book detailing his views on how to improve Britain. Business reporter Jon Griffin assesses his proposals.
Britain has “lost its bottle” and is in “serious need of fixing,” according to former CBI Director-General Digby Jones.
The former Birmingham lawyer, who became Trade Minister under Gordon Brown’s Government, launches a series of angry broadsides against modern-day Britain in his new book Fixing Britain.
Lord Jones says in the opening chapter: “Our country has declined to such an extent that it is in serious need of fixing, but we do have the framework on which to base our fightback.”
And he warns later in the book: “We are at five to midnight in this country and if we are to fix it we have no more time for focus groups, for listening to endless objections from the “rights” industry.
“A truly cohesive and productive society awaits but political correctness and fear of offending have no place in banishing the Gimme Society.”
Lord Jones says that Britain is lacking in self-belief. “We don’t celebrate what we’re good at. We merely look inward and criticise all the time. The tragedy is that we have ceased to believe in ourselves.
“Despite all our success, this nation is at a crossroads. We’ve come out of a severe recession and with good, firm economic management we will survive it, but the real poverty is one of expectation. The real depression in this country is not economic, it is the decline in talent, sadly something over which the last Government presided.
“The real worry is that the damage to social cohesion, the destruction of the glue of our society, is permanent.”
He blasted governments for “incompetence” and “poverty of straightforward and honest planning.”
“It has been easier for Government to fashion its own layers of bureaucracy, to intervene and appear to be doing something than to take the more difficult route to plain, simple and effective solutions. Much of this is because few of our politicians have had any experience of real life, or a real job.”
He said the root of Britain’s difficulties lay in the “desperate” state of the country’s education system. “Tony Blair promised ‘education, education, education.
“We got a scholastic generation who are not equipped for the world of work.
“Employers complain that, even after A level studies, many school leavers have basic problems with literacy and numeracy and seem to think that the world owes them a living.”
Baron Jones said many politicians had no experience of real life. “When I was a minister, I’d have advisers and they’d be 25 years old.