NEWS: Why should we not be leagued if it proves we’re not beleaguered?

If I were responsible for the global promotion of UK Inc., I would now be reaching for the pearl handled revolver - and taking aim at Switzerland. No, their blessed cuckoo clocks have not got on my nerves. It’s their league tables.

If I were responsible for the global promotion of UK Inc., I would now

be reaching for the pearl handled revolver - and taking aim at

Switzerland. No, their blessed cuckoo clocks have not got on my nerves.

It’s their league tables.



I recognise that I am treading on sensitive soil. As one who sees

considerable merit in informing parents about the relative performance

of their child’s school, I am in favour of league tables. As a supporter

of Crystal Palace, I only wish league tables, measuring a season’s

performance, decided promotion to the Premier League rather than

moneyspinning play-offs. And as a non-executive director of a PR company

which, according to this organ, has been roistering on rose, I am all in

favour of PR Week’s agency league table when we move up it.



There is thus something to be said for league tables, whether as an

instrument of policy, a stimulus or a PR tool, provided they are soundly

based and the criteria are unswervingly applied. There may well be

arguments, as in education, over what you can read into placings, but at

least the chosen system applies universally.



But what are we to make of two recent competing Swiss commentaries on

the UK economy? The World Economic Forum (WEF) raised us from 18th to

15th place in a league of 48 nations whereas the Institute for

Management Development (IMD) dropped us from 15th to 19th. A day later

the OECD, representing the world’s leading economies, said ‘Britain’s

economic outlook could hardly be brighter’, according to the Guardian’s

headline.



If I were in No 10 Press Office, I would claim a 2-1 win, take the money

and run with it. But what’s the point? The OECD’s reports are known to

be vetted by individual governments. And the two Swiss institutes have

different ways of looking at things. Broadly speaking, the WEF has a

Thatcherite flexible, minimal government, open trading view of the

world. The IMD sounds like Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown with its

emphasis on investment, skills and education. No wonder the UK is

bobbing up and down like a yo-yo in the upper middle quartile.



All that this elaborate Swiss exercise in looking at the industrialised

world through two different microscopes tells us is that we are doing

fair to middling, as they say in Yorkshire. Not bad, but nowt to write

home about. But that is not the image conveyed to battered Britons in a

nation - indeed, a world - where the only good news is bad news.



Still, it could be worse. I could be responsible for Germany’s

promotion. WEF has demoted the beef-banners from sixth to 22nd place

and IMD from fifth to 10th. Beware of league tables pointing in the same

direction. Thank God when they don’t.



Sir Bernard Ingham writes for the Daily Express



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.