“Credit to Cable: He has a game plan for putting industry on right track”

So wrote the Evening Standard‘s Andrew Hilton this week:

He is bored with Britain having the talent, the inventors and the innovators, but then thinking it is virtuous to leave them to fend for themselves with no support so that too few of them become business gold medallists…

He identified the essentials for success — the need for the right kind of finance, support for emerging technologies, a focus on and partnership with key sectors, a pipeline of skilled workers, and the use of government procurement as far as is possible to support these aims.

None of this is new — they have been doing it in the United States, Germany and much of the rest of the world for years. But it is new to us, indeed it is more than new. It is an astonishing sea change, given that a year ago it  was impossible for a minister even to utter the words industrial policy, let alone devote an entire speech to outlining one.

Goodness knows what they make of it on the Tory back benches, where the dominant strand of thinking is still that the role of the government is to get out of the way; that to get more houses built we should abolish planning regulations; that cutting red tape will cause a small-business revival and that all public spending other than for the defence of the realm is unnecessary and wasteful.

But it is probably close to the mood in the country.

It’s been a busy week for Vince:

Cable to cap unfair dismissal payouts
He will consult on plans to cut the limit on compensation payouts to a maximum of 12 months’ salary.

He also wants to bring in settlement agreements, in which staff agree to leave without being able to go to a tribunal, but get a pay-off in return.

Proposals to make it easier simply to fire workers will not be made law. [BBC]

Vince Cable ‘wins’ battle as number of migrant students to be disclosed
Immigration statistics are to be made clearer after a battle between Home Secretary Theresa May and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

It follows claims that the Home Office is targeting overseas students in order to reduce the headline immigration rate.

From November, the Office for National Statistics will state how many migrants are students. Allies of Mr Cable claimed victory. [Evening Standard]

The last one is important because Britain’s legit universities are a very successful export industry, selling their services overseas and bringing in significant money which helps fund their existence. Plus having diverse and high quality students adds to the teaching and research experience for the academics whilst also adding to the learning and research experience for the students. A better education system and a healthier balance of payments – and under threat from the focus on an immigration target that makes these very successes a problem.

Separating out student numbers from other immigration figures is a sensible way to have a much more sensible debate.

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