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MARK FIELD: Hard work and flair can save the economy

PUBLISHED: 10:41 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:57 07 September 2010

The dismal plight facing the UK economy naturally brings to mind rousing and inspirational Churchillian rhetoric. I am sad to report, however, that we are not even at the end of the beginning of this financial and economic crisis. Its impact on the fortu

The dismal plight facing the UK economy naturally brings to mind rousing and inspirational Churchillian rhetoric.

I am sad to report, however, that we are not even at the end of the beginning of this financial and economic crisis.

Its impact on the fortunes of us all will be felt for many years to come.

It is important not to heed some of the more outlandish predictions of our economic future (such as the so-called City expert opinion that the UK is now heading for bankruptcy) - but a turbulent journey lies ahead.

For in spite of the astonishing pace and extent of decline over the past 12 months, there is no end in sight for the travails facing the banking sector.

The seven largest global investment banks have all lost their independence. One, Lehman Brothers, has gone bust.

On these shores, the Government has spent or guaranteed unimaginably huge sums of public money trying to bring stability to the entire financial system on a scale that is barely able to be comprehended. Such is the price for the UK economy's unbalanced position as a truly global player only in the financial services sphere.

Watching the second attempt by the chancellor at a definitive bailout, my gloomy but overriding thought was this: how soon before the government returns for a third bite of the cherry?

The nagging doubt remains that the Government lacks any real plan of what UK banking should look like once the worst is behind us.

I believe we must soon see a robust vision for restoring free-market disciplines into this stricken sector.

For while the spirit of the age may point an accusing finger at "market failure", history teaches us that governments fail far more often.

As I have written before, politicians of all parties must explain to the general public some unpalatable home truths - Britons have spent and borrowed far too much over recent times.

Moreover, too many of us lack the necessary skills to compete effectively as high-wage players in the global economy.

Unless these long-standing failures of government are addressed urgently, the UK risks social unrest on an unprecedented scale.

This nation needs to go back to the enduring values of personal responsibility, thrift and enterprise.

We must recognise that the debt-fuelled credit bubble of the past decade - and the current government's strategy for repairing the damage - is little more than a pyramid sales scam against the young.

Future generations of British taxpayers will foot the ever increasing bill for the "rescue", which fails to halt, yet alone reverse, the unsustainable levels of public sector borrowing.

To pay for the years to come for present day consumption also makes it difficult to promote the much needed savings culture for the future.

The world of finance will look different. However, we have paid the price for short-termism, financial products being improperly understood, and over-exuberant speculation in the past.

This downturn is new only in its extent, and the elusive ingredient, trust, will take a long time to restore.

Above all, at this of all times politicians need to defend capitalism and free markets as the only bulwark against an all powerful State.

For while government's role in stabilising our beleaguered economy cannot be denied, it will only be the hard work, enterprise and flair of our wealth creators building businesses which will ensure that our economy rises again.

Mark Field is the Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster.

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