England can beat India: but it requires turning ducks waddling in economic recovery into swans

Today we have calls for more government spending to help pull through economic recovery and overcome current stagnation. Central to that recovery will be the re-creation of a world-class communications infrastructure – in line with declared government policy. Hence the first of the Information Society Alliance policy studies announced at the reception attended by Ed Vaizey (Minister for Culture Communications and the Creative Industries) on the 9th June.

This morning Broadband UK was once again procrastinating over allocating the funds it was due to have allocated before the start of the Parliamentary recess to help pull through rural broadband. Instead it announced plans to try to force local Councils into consortia unrelated to their existing plans for co-operation on cost-cutting and improved service delivery. The result was predictable.

Ministers had promised funding decisions before the recess so that councils could move ahead rapidly with plans to use their share of the £550 million alongside funding from other sources that must be used or lost this year. Instead BDUK appears engaged in a game of manana top-down planning for contracts to be awarded next year to BT, Virgin Media and Cable and Wireless.

That is not what they have said but I have been told that those are the only suppliers who meet the criteria they have specified for their framework contract. More interestingly, I am told than none of those who do meet the criteria are enthusiastic. The idiosyncratic nature of the framework means they would make a better return on shareholders funds by providing backhaul facilities to local community services operated by others, provided the latter are built to current international inter-operability standards.

It is not to late to turn a dying duck into a flying swan any more than it was too late to show India that we can still beat them on the cricket field.

Now all we to do is to show them that we can once again beat India (and even China) when it comes to economic growth – perhaps by doing it the same way that we did before – mixing  deregulation, local enterprise and global trade (in whatever language and under whatever law the customer wants). [The delusions and distractions of Empire came later].

Hence my blog yesterday on the need to change the terms of reference of BDUK to removing barriers to local enterprise instead of adding new ones. 

Without such a change we can expect a round of (b)duck hunting while MPs (including Cabinet and other Ministers representing constituencies in Oxfordshire, Cheshire, Surrey and Sussex) are in their constituencies over the summer.