I read with concern that John Mills (Marketplace, April 2020) is still peddling his long-held theory that British manufacturing needs a substantially devalued pound sterling to encourage its revival. I am a successful British manufacturer who has survived repeated devaluations of our national currency over the past half century. Not for the first time, I assure Mr Mills that his medicine does not work.
In 2014, fearful of Mr Mills’s self-publicised theories gaining a wider acceptance among the business and academic community, I challenged him to a debate. The motion was “This House Believes that Devaluation of Sterling can Revive Growth of the British Economy”. The debate took place on November 14, 2014, at the Judge Business School, Cambridge, under the Chairmanship of Labour peer Lord Eatwell. The audience comprised mainly members of the university from all academic branches. I opposed the motion and in the vote which followed the debate, the motion was defeated by 79 per cent to 21 per cent.
From long experience I can tell Mr Mills that it is quality, efficiency and reliability that will sell British-made products profitably. Yes, price has a place in this, but it is not dominant. In the 1970s, which still counts as the high water mark of British devaluations, a Jaguar car was roughly half the price of the equivalent Mercedes. Did you see many Jaguars on the roads of Germany? No, because they were unreliable and couldn’t stand up to the aggressive and routine autobahn treatment so beloved of the Teutonic motorist.
The one thing which British manufacturers lack is a solid “Buy British” policy by HMG. It is saddening to see the numbers of complete new trains flooding into the country from as far afield as Japan, when so many of their constituent parts could be manufactured in Britain. Maybe, with Britain now freed from the constraints of Brussels, we can look forward to the spending of British tax-payers money being directed more towards British-made goods. I hope so.
Sir Andrew Cook CBE, Chairman,
William Cook Holdings Ltd
Leaf Arbuthnot’s excellent article (“Teacher training is a mess. Everyone suffers”, April 2020) missed a major cause of the mess in our teacher training. When I joined the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) in 1983, it had been awarding all the degrees in the polytechnic sector since 1965, and thus for nearly all our teacher training courses, which our universities regarded as rather beneath them.
I managed to infiltrate our teacher training committee, and was horrified to discover that our mission was to permeate the whole curriculum with issues of gender, race and class.
We didn’t appoint external examiners whose CVs did not reveal that they were Marxists, and we refused to validate any course which promoted the phonic method of teaching children to read. The head of one teacher training department, who has since been revealed as a Soviet agent—as many of them were—told me that this was to help to create the lumpenproletariat which would facilitate the Soviet take-over of our society.
I became the CNAA’s honorary treasurer in 1986, and by 1991 had managed to get democrats appointed to all our subject committees; Roger Scruton to our Philosophy Committee, Caroline Cox to our Nursing Committee, and so on.
So the CNAA was about to become a valuable instrument in the fight against the leftist bias in our education system. But Kenneth Clarke brilliantly gave all the polytechnics their own charters in 1992, and abolished the CNAA.
Malcolm Pearson, House of Lords
Tibet and China
I read with great interest Sonam Tsering Frasi’s article “Tibet: suffering in silence”, in the last issue. The Chinese Communist government authorities have been using their economic prowess and superpower status not only to suppress NGOs, individuals and even some governments who raise legitimate concerns about the violation of human rights in Tibet, but also to coerce their policy. As a result, some democratic governments and businesses shamefully kowtow to Communist Chinese government, putting profits above any sense of morality and self-respect.
I will state two examples of their coercion.Tibetans living in Nepal are not allowed to celebrate the birthday celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, let alone to commemorate the anniversary of March 10, 1959—Tibetan National Uprising Day. There have been cases where HH the Dalai Lama’s pre-planned visits to certain countries were suddenly cancelled due to Chinese government pressure.
HH the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile have made an unequivocal statement: “We are seeking a genuine autonomy for Tibet where Tibetans are responsible for their own internal affairs leaving its foreign policy to Beijing.” But the Chinese government after Deng Xiaoping has shown no inclination whatsoever to resolve the Tibetan issue. Instead they continue to rule Tibet imperialistically, with iron grip, as a subjugated colonial subject.
The Chinese Communist government’s belligerent stand towards the Tibet issue must end. It serves no long term benefit to either China or Tibet. It must resume dialogue with the Tibetan government-in-exile and with HH the Dalai Lama, to resolve, peacefully, the issue of Tibet, and it must adhere to basic human rights as enshrined in China’s own constitution.
Kelsang Frasi, London
The name game
Peter Trudgill is right (“Toponymic subjugation”, April 2020): people think they are “honouring” other nations by attempting to use the home team’s name for a city. This was brought home to me last year when I asked an Indian lady which part of India she came from and she said, “Bombay.” I, thinking she was politely using that form of the word because she thought it was the one I would be familiar with, countered her politeness by politely asking whether we shouldn’t now call it “Mumbai”. “No,” she said, quite firmly. “You call it ‘Mumbai’, but we still call it ‘Bombay’.”
Ian Baird, Framlingham, Suffolk
This article is taken from the May/June 2020 issue of Standpoint. To subscribe to the print and digital editions, including a full digital archive, click here.