So why have we been hit harder than the French and Germans? The answer is the pursuit of free-market economics - or rather neoliberal politics dressed up as economics. The UK and USA follow a particular brand of 'free-market' economics known as 'anglo-saxon'. This is 'free-market' economics in its purest and most fanatical form. In this version, everything is up for grabs. Everything must be privatised and sold off to the highest bidder without any thought for the social consequences. Labour must be 'flexible' i.e. subject to restrictive anti-trade union legislation so that workers are reduced as near as possible to wage-slavery. We have been following this brand of economics since the late seventies, first under Thatcherism and then under er.. Thatcherism - now known as New Labour. In the USA the same policies were known as Reaganomics - after President Ronald Reagan - see my post here.
After forty years of this nonsense, our economy has been ruined. Manufacturing has become almost non-existent. Factories have closed and moved abroad - many to Europe where industries are supported by the governments there. The economy has become dominated by socially useless financial casino capitalism of precisely the kind which has got us into massive debt. On top of this our utilities, airports, banks, postal services etc are now controlled by foreign multinational companies. We don't even own key parts of our economy any more (not that 'we' ever did but I'm sure you know what I mean).
The French and Germans also pursue 'free-market' economics but of a different kind. They protect their companies and their economy. As a result, they have sheltered their people from the worst aspects of the recession and are recovering more quickly. Their economic approach has a social dimension that is completely lacking here.
So we have very little productive or useful economy left. Which leaves us in the mire. In the 1990s there were economic crashes in South America and Asia. At the time anglo-saxon 'free- market' economists lectured these people on how they should run their economies. These economists knew best. They had the superior model. Now that lecturing is starting to look very hollow.
If we continue to go down this path, privatisation, outsourcing, flogging off key parts of our economy as the anglo-saxon model dictates we will continue to decline as an economic power - just as the USA will. We will have increasing social problems of unemployment, crime, drug abuse that go with that decline, and we can only look forward to a Tory government which will exacerbate this situation.
We need to reject 'free-market' economics and build our economics around a social model. The very least our people should be able to expect is the same 'economics' that the French and Germans get.
Merry Xmas everybody.