IT was my good fortune to attend the plenary session of the World Economic Forum in Dubai this week, where I had a glimpse of how the future might unfold from the perspective of different countries. The UK is unfortunately still mired in recession but most of our competitors have emerged or are emerging. If I ever wondered about the shift of power, I was shocked to learn that the largest manufacturer in the UK is in fact TATA, the Indian company which owns both Corus, the steel company, and Landrover/Jaguar. The ascendancy of China and India is tangible and increasingly all eyes look East.
America, with its 10 million unemployed, is in no position to help. The fact that it now subsidises its car manufacturers with taxpayers’ money is downright unhelpful, if not an illegal form of state and I am surprised our Government has not complained more about this, given it refused to subsidise ours. Intriguingly, countries of the Middle East which grew rich in oil are heavily investing in green technology before oil runs out.
Many speakers pondered why it seems so difficult to get sustainable development on the agenda and politicians in all countries were roundly criticised for their failure to lead on this and resist the pressure from vested interests to keep on developing at rates which exhaust our natural resources and pollute irretrievably.
So I detect a divide between the politicians and the world’s thought leaders who need to get together fast and hammer out what is possible.
I observed an interesting dichotomy at the global meeting. Business leaders talk with enthusiasm about global leadership, a global vision, and common problems with a common solution. But at in my constituency, I sense people see globalisation as bad news. We risk being unaware of the benefit it brings. As a national politician in the middle, I need to do what I can to marry these two divergent trends: global and local, to ensure disconnection does not happen.