The UK must not be frightened of harnessing the power of the state as the country negotiates life after Brexit. Many people who remember the 1970s – a time when the British state seemed incapable of doing anything productive while the country suffered the indignity of going cap-in-hand to the IMF – often balk at such a suggestion. Many of the same people came of age in the 1980s, and associate the private sector with growth and opportunity, while the public sector was forever tainted with the stench of poor productivity, unemployment and power cuts. Yet this Anglo-centric view misses what was going on in the rest of the world at the time.
The economic revival of West Germany (the so-called ‘Wirtschaftswunder’), the economic miracle of Japan and the South Korean ‘Miracle on the Han River’ were all achieved with varying degrees of efficient government support.