Theresa May, Britain’s new prime minister, has certainly been bold, maybe even foolhardy, in some of her cabinet appointments. But she has been equally bold in elevating “industrial strategy” to the top of her new government’s agenda—a move that could mark a clear break with her predecessor’s governments. The very term has been frowned upon in Conservative Party circles since Margaret Thatcher’s leadership. Yet Mrs May argued for “a proper industrial strategy to get the whole economy firing”, in her pitch for taking over from David Cameron. And once installed in Downing Street she quickly created a whole new department, of “Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy”.I mean Economist even gets how horrific a turn this is:
The phrase in Britain will always be linked to the Labour governments of the 1970s, and to the ruinous industrial failures of that period. In an era in which Keynesian economics and planning dominated policymaking, it was a left-winger, Tony Benn, who proclaimed the need for such a strategy. This was mainly in response to the obvious failings of Britain’s unprofitable, strike-prone and outmoded industrial base. As minister for industry in the middle of the decade Mr Benn intervened ever more closely in loss-making companies such as Triumph motorcycles, just as his immediate successors intervened on a much larger scale to prop up huge corporations such as British Steel. Almost all these interventions failed disastrously, losing billions of pounds for taxpayers without saving the companies; the strategy was derided as “picking winners”. After Mrs Thatcher became prime minister in 1979 the nationalised industries were largely broken up and, in a new era of free-market economic liberalism, the notion became unfashionable. Even when the Labour Party was restored to power under Tony Blair after 1997, it remained firmly off the agenda.Rebellion against backroom globalism is not good when the masses don't understand the evils of national planning. Things could turn for the worse as they might in the U.K.:
There must be doubts as to how far Mrs May can take an industrial strategy in a majority Conservative government. For now the policy remains somewhat inchoate, but already free-market types are worried. Mark Littlewood, head of the Institute of Economic Affairs, one of Mrs Thatcher’s favourite think-tanks, argues that adopting even a limited industrial strategy could tempt the government into going further by propping up loss-making industries such as steel—especially once Britain leaves the EU and is no longer bound by European rules against state aid. So far it seems mild enough. But, aware of a popular mood souring against globalisation and a government keen to occupy the political centre-ground abandoned by Labour, many Tories will be on the lookout for signs of mission creep. Well-intentioned interventions could quickly become counter-productive.Note well America: As I have pointed out, Donald Trump has hinted that he is in favor of introducing industrial policy to the U.S.
SEE: The Most Under-Reported Sentence in Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Speech