Posted by: Adam Roake | February 9, 2009

Mandelson on a New Industrial Activism

Whilst checking the RSA website I spotted Lord Mandelson’s lecture (podcast and text).  His theme proposes that government must embrace dynamism of our market led economy but that it will fail us on certain issues. 


For example, spending on skills is vital for a dynamic economy, but for individual businesses the spillovers from that spending often makes it unattractive. Companies want apprentices, but they may not want to pay to train apprentices who may one day work for their competition. Innovation is vital for a cutting edge economy, but innovation can be too long-term, risky, expensive and difficult for markets. Modern economies also need high levels of general, scientific and technical education, but the market will not produce these on its own. A modern economy needs intensive digital and transport infrastructure, but we cannot necessarily rely solely on markets to produce these things. These are cases where markets may fail us, not in dramatic crisis, but quietly and in a way that can easily escape notice. But they fail nevertheless to produce the best outcome for our economy and society as a whole.”


The market place is by nature inclined to short term view.  It is crucial that government picks up the long term challenge within its industrial policy for all concerned.  That of course has huge implications for regeneration policy across the board.



  1. I was at that lecture.

    It was very wooly although I appreciated the statement of intent which, I think, is vital in recognising the complete lack of a sustainable industrial base in the UK.

    I have my views on where the key growth sectors may lie that wll allow us the again develop a UK USP but will await government action on industrial activism with anticipation.

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