Inshallah, today at the Labour party conference I will tell parliamentary candidates that whethwr or not they get elected, they will not be re-elected if most of their voters are unemployed, in low-paid dead-end jobs or in pension-slashed poverty come the election of 2015.
Last week I said the same to LibDem Candidates and have blogged on their response. Next week I plan to say the same in Manchester and note that one of my Dragon’s, Allan Cullens (candidate for Chorley) is likely to tackle me form a position of knowledge (17 years as a learning and development consustant).
My message is stark: unless we create, attract and retain the wealth creating jobs of the future, the candidates’ voters and their voters’ children and grandchildren will be condemned to surf the cybercrud on the fringes of the global information society – as the UK becomes the electronic equivalent of Cannery Row – a post-industrial poor relation to the economic powerhouses of Asia.
It is not just taxation levels – it is the lack of competitive communications infra-structure and access to world-class broadband, it is regulatory confusion, fiscal uncertainty, planning controls designed for a bygone age and the collapse of our workforce skills programmes that are driving away those who might otherwise create the jobs of the future in your constituency.
Robert Maxwell was the first media mogul to move his electronic publishing operations out of the UK, using the pension funds to support the share price to enable him to do so. Others have followed him over time, mostly without sacrificing either shareholders or pensioners.
The most recent include Google and Yahoo, both of which moved the control of their EU operations from London to Zurich last year to avoid the implementation of the Audio Visual Media Services Directive – the content creation job destruction directive.
Others have moved their confidential databases of personal information and communications to Dublin, the Isle of Man, Switzerland or Singapore to avoid the next round of Home Office surveillance plans – where the small print includes access for US authorities under “mutual assistance” to that which they cannot get under the Patriot Act.
Such deterrents to locating globally competitive knowledge businesses in the UK have now been compounded by anti-immigration controls which may not protect judges or minister from employing illegal immigrants by mistake, but do mean that the UK drops out of the integrated career development paths of the great multi-nationals: becoming a professional backwater for native staff only, no longer part of the mainstream route to the top – unless they emigrate and don’t come back.
I tell the candidates that, if they really want the jobs of the future in their constituencies, they should take up EURIM associate parliamentary membership, go on the circulation list for the Knowledge Economy programme. EURIM is about to start an exercise to update its paper on A Flourishing Information Economy.
Whether or not EURIM does publish an agreed update, I very much hope that candidates from all parties will pillage the discussion material for points they can use to help themselves get elected and make a genuine difference to some very murky debates on regulation and on skills – where good intentions all too often transmogrify into counterproductive muddle.