Thursday, February 09, 2006

Failure of the British economy looms

David Williamson:

SHADOW CHANCELLOR George Osborne used his first official visit to Wales to warn that the heart of the UK economy was edging towards failure.

He said, "You're getting the slow furring of the arteries of the British economy. We are becoming slightly more sclerotic.

"We are not as competitive as we once were."

Speaking before meeting members of CBI Wales, the 34-year-old said the 156% rise in home repossessions in Cardiff was proof a sluggish economy hurt the most vulnerable in society, and called for the party to recast itself as a champion of housebuilding.

Describing the hike in repossessions from 85 to 218, he said, "It's very devastating news for the families involved ... it's an indication of two things: One, that the economy is not as strong as Gordon Brown would portray it, and the second is the cost of housing is a real burden on families."

Affordable housing, he said, was "an issue the new Conservative Party needs to tackle," and he acknowledged the party was sometimes associated with nimbyism.

He said, "We have to change and say, 'Look, we have got to free up the supply of homes and find places where we can develop housing and commercial property - it's important, too - and bring the dream of home ownership within the reach of ordinary families."

Welsh prosperity, he said, should be pursued by slashing red tape and boosting education to create a more competi-tive economy, citing the success of the Republic of Ireland.

He said, "Where's Google choosing to locate its [European headquarters]? Well, not in Cardiff, not in London, but in Dublin.

"I think there are lessons there for the United Kingdom about creating a lower-tax, lighter regulatory economy with the kind of skills people have in the Irish economy."

Science is the currency of success


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