Sunday, September 17, 2006

Too little, too late

You may remember this story from March on how the British-designed VAAC control system for the JSF project was being used by the Americans without any apparent return. Well, Sir Digby Jones, the outgoing director of the CBI, has weighed in.

"One of the most shocking and worrying aspects of loss of independence has been a refusal to stand up to the United States in so many areas," he will argue in a speech called "I want my country back".

Sir Digby will say he is not talking about Iran, Afghanistan or Lebanon, but about areas where "our country could have and should have stood up and fought a protectionist, bullying America - in the fields of trade, investment and the rule of law".

The former CBI director-general will criticise the government for standing by while the US financial watchdog, the Securities and exchange commission, imposed onerous and expensive disclosure conditions on UK companies, and when the US authorities demanded the extradition of British subjects without sufficient evidence to bring them to trial.

"We stand meekly by whilst America takes our intellectual property in military hardware, uses it and refuses to hand it back.."
He goes on to bash the Americans over airline route access and ownership (a traditional bitch, this - which Labour MP was it who said "We are not fighting the war for Pan-American Airways" back in the 1940s?) before rounding off the evening with some bash directed at the EU. So far so routine on that score. But why am I not pleased? Because he says this in his first speech after leaving the CBI, i.e. exactly when he represents no-one but himself. As usual, most things that matter in British politics are considered off-limits for public discussion.

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