Peter Hoskin

Clarke on competitiveness

Clarke on competitiveness
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So here I am at a conference put on today by my former colleagues at Reform.  It's all about 'A new economic agenda', and the speakers include George Osborne, Vince Cable, John McFall, Tony McNulty and Will Hutton.  First, though, Ken Clarke, who's just delivered a 15-minute address on competitiveness.  It demonstrated, perfectly, why Cameron's brought the Big Beast back.  He seems to have an easy understanding of the issues; gets his points across in simple, lingo-free English; and - rare for a politician - he raises a few laughs too.

Two passages worth pulling out from Clarke's address. The first on Sterling:

"Rapid movements in exchange rates are always disastrous ... There are upsides but, on this occasion, we've got most of the downside.  The upside, in theory, is that our exporters' goods become cheaper for customers - but that's asusming that there are customers.  What's happened is just that our exports are cheaper, imports are more expensive, and our trade deficit remains defiantly the worst since the C17th."

And the second on education reform:

"The future of the economy is in hi-tech niche markets, that we need to fill ... that requires higher quality education and research in this country ... The effective reform of education and training in this country underpins the whole thing."

Tune in for more dispatches from me throughout the day.