David Willetts on the Anglo-Saxon finance model

December 2, 2009

Demography is the most powerful single structural explanation of changes in the economy in society around us, David Willetts, Conservative Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills told Reuters ahead of a talk about European policy options on Wednesday at the London School of Economics.

Population changes in Europe and Britain will contribute to the UK becoming Europe’s largest economy in the 2040s, he said.

“So when I read that the Anglo-Saxon model is dead, and that somehow we’ve fallen way behind the continent of Europe I do think that a society capable of generating quite substantial economic growth — if we can emerge from this crisis — has still got some things going for it,” Willetts said in reaction to comments made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which suggested that continental economic ideals will prevail over the Anglo-Saxon model.


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This is all very well, but do we want our population to grow by such vast numbers, particularly when we are told that millions of these extra people will be immigrants? I think the vast majority of people in the UK would say “no” to this question. Governments should do their best to make sure these projections prove to be false, and to ensure that nevertheless, they can deliver the wealth and prosperity necessary to maintain living standards for young and old. The Anglo-Saxon model is one of liberal democracy unfettered by the dirigiste centralised regulation of a ruling political elite, such as exists in France. We should make sure that this Anglo-Saxon model continues to work, without depending on huge and undesirable increases in population.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

Which Anglo Saxon model? The American one is of rampant capitalism with a devil take the hindmost attitude to the poorest in society. The rewards are great but the penalties are very unpleasant.The British model is still a mixed economy with many vital services provided or controlled by the state for all citizens and legitimate migrant workers. The part of the economy driven by financial services has been growing out of control and approaching the American model in attitude.Hopefully we will be able to return to a proper degree of control over the idiot gamblers in out financial system and maintain our support for the poorest in society.The Europeans quite rightly regard us and the Americans as the greatest threat to the world economy and want to establish controls that will prevent the sort of melt down that occurred last year.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive