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How can we build ‘Brand Britain’?

11 July 2014

The Spectator, in association with BAE Systems, hosted a half-day forum entitled ‘Exporting for Growth’ on 27 June. The event was held to discuss what can be done to spread British products and services globally, and to try and promote ‘Brand Britain’. This week’s magazine contains a supplement on the same theme, with pieces from speakers at the event and others with an interest in the state of British exports.

In it, Martin Vander Weyer argued that we, as a nation, need to broaden our horizons if we want to remain a major player in the global economy:

‘There is a fizzing revival of entrepreneurialism in post-recession Britain, and an appetite to go out and sell goods and services that have the hallmark of Britishness which the rest of the world still admires. But the late 20th-century decline of British industry and salesmanship was also real, and the global competition is fierce.’

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, looked to the future of Britain’s exports:

‘In terms of policy direction, we are focusing on the big emerging markets… We all accept this is where the future lies… I am optimistic that in five or ten years’ time we will have a very different structure in Britain – a healthier and more balanced one.’


Nigel Whitehead discussed the role of the UK’s workforce in global exportation:

‘The single most important factor in driving the UK’s export success is the skill base of our workforce. A sustained rise is achievable only if it’s underpinned by world-class productivity, powered by high levels of skill and outstanding managerial and leadership competencies.’

John Cridland, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry emphasized the importance of the EU:

‘The EU remains fundamental to our economic future… If we’re going to successfully overhaul our trade mix, it’s crucial to ensure that the sectors where businesses have proven their international potential have the support they need to flourish.’

Ross Clark pointed to the complexities surrounding imports and exports:

‘Manufacturing is such a complex process, with specialist companies involved at every stage, that sorting out what is an export and what is an import has become an esoteric business… Like lower crime and better education, everyone wants more exports. But trying to achieve that requires ministers to learn not just when to offer assistance but when to keep their nose out of the market.’

Isabel Hardman spoke to former Secretary of State for Health, Stephen Dorrell about the NHS and how it can function as an export:

‘Dorrell warns that while the NHS has plenty it can sell abroad, it has a lot to learn from other countries too… He is more concerned with the need to improve the NHS at home, with an ambitious plan to change the entire attitude of the health service so that it focuses on the care that people need throughout their lives rather than the medicine and hospital treatment that they often need when that early care has failed.’

And Peter Bazalgette, chairman of the Arts Council of England, explores the way arts and culture are boosting Britain’s economy:

‘Since the credit crunch our government has had one priority only – economic growth. Now they’re discovering there’s this thing called the creative sector, growing twice as fast as the economy in general and increasing employment much faster than that.’

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  • evad666

    ‘The single most important factor in driving the UK’s export success is
    the skill base of our workforce. A sustained rise is achievable only if
    it’s underpinned by world-class productivity, powered by high levels of
    skill and outstanding managerial and leadership competencies.’ Well with our level of managerial and leadership competencies we might as well give up now. Interesting there is no mention of technical innovation and new developments.

  • global city

    ‘Brand Britain’….so nulabour!

    Unleash enterprise, stop Westminister sucking vast wealth out of currently poor areas via the tax take, close down vast tranches of politicised academe, hollow out our current establishment, regain our sovereign independence so that laws and regulations can be amended to best serve the future WE select.

    Focus internationally.

  • john

    Brand Britain is old-fashioned, elitist and snobby. It’s good for tourism and Burberry but that’s it. It will always be this way until the country effects some real constitutional change and becomes genuinly egalitarian.

  • Makroon

    Vince is “optimistic that in 5 or 10 years time, we will have a very different structure in Britain”.
    Given that he is the most enthusiastic cheer-leader for a LibLab pact, this sounds ominous for British business.

  • you_kid

    How Can We Build A Brand Britain

    Those cabs pictured will be off the streets of Inner London come 01 Jan 2018.
    That’s a start …

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Flogging a dead horse, aren`t you Speccie?

  • Winston Burchill

    We can achieve great things as a country especially if we get rid of the likes of Wince Cable.

  • Smithersjones2013

    How can we build ‘Brand Britain’?

    You can’t the days of ‘Britain’ are over and have been ever since Labour encouraged devolution for their own benefit,

  • Blindsideflanker

    Well a start would be not flogging them off in the first pace.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Cadburys , Rowntrees, Terrys, Lucozade, Ribena, Branston Pickle, HP sauce, KP Nuts, McCoys, Hula Hoops, Harely’s Jam Gales honey, Sarsons vinegar Haywards pickles, Wheetabix, Alpen, Ready Brek, John West, , Newcastle Brown, John Smiths bitter, Stongbow cider, New Covent Garden Soups. Rolls Royce, Bentley, the National Lottery, Raleigh, Boots, Jaguar Land Rover, Pilkingtons. Selfridges, Fortnum and Masons, Savoy. Harrods, ICI, BOC, P&O ports, Corus, BAA, British Energy,

      50 biggest grocery brands in the UK, just 44 are home-owned.

      Of the 91 brands created in the UK, only 36 were still owned by British companies.

  • global city

    Cridland’s quote was the usual mix of psycho-babble and middle management-speak. Meaningless nonsense.

  • Jacques Strap

    UK plc

  • Alexsandr

    its our intellectual stuff we are good at -computer programming and games. Thats where we could do well.

  • Kitty MLB

    Are you sure Vince Cable the anti- business secretary should be giving advice.
    Its rather like King Herod giving advice on childcare. We need to start becoming
    more industrious again.. especially in our Northern cities, which New-Labour betrayed
    for cheaper goods from China
    Lest we forget the succubus of the EU that we are attached to.
    We are a ancient land, the country or Shakespeare, we have had great inventors and ,
    we have our traditions and values which are superior.
    Yet the last government purposely changed Great Britain into ‘ Little England’ we
    don’t need empty slogans like ‘ Brand Britain’ when Great Britain spoke for itself.

  • zanzamander

    We have a tremendous amount of respect in the world. Our language, culture, laws, monarchy and arts are envy of the world. Having said this, I’m afraid we have squandered our assets by joining the EU. The Labour party, lefties, and interventionists have made us into an apologetic, has been country.

    It is still not too late. We can re-invent ourselves by leaving the EU and never allowing the destructive forces of lefties to ever get their dirty mitts on power ever again.

    Look at Germany, despite the challenges of fascism, partition and then integration, despite none of our advantages, it is now a force once again. A little bit of patriotism, self confidence and hard work, we can get there as we must.

  • Des Demona
    • Makroon

      BAE ? Would that be the company that sold off the British interest in Airbus, and morphed into an American defence contractor, able to evade the US restrictions on exports to the Gulf by maintaining it’s British ‘brass plate’ ?
      Why would they want to promote “brand Britain” ?

      In the opinion of British governments of all stripes, it is far more important to strut about making judgments about, and meddling, in other countries affairs, than to promote ‘brand Britain’. Gratuitous provocation is our speciality – whether it is “telling off” Putin, scolding Brazil for having “too much inequality”, instructing India on “the importance of sorting out Kashmir” or making a point of inviting the Dalai Lama to tea.

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