Ministers thought the problem was the government spending too much,” says Duncan Weldon, senior economist with the TUC. “And that if they simply lowered corporation tax and cut the cost of capital, companies would invest more.”
On that score, Osbornomics has been an undeniable failure. According to official forecasts from June 2010, business investment should have risen 35% by now; it’s only increased 1%. Nor has the promised export boom turned up, despite the pound’s plunge making our goods much cheaper abroad.
…..Our record with graphene has been similarly dismal. Consultants calculate that China has taken out more than 2,200 patents on the material; the US more than 1,700; South Korea is closing in on 1,200. And the country that discovered it? Just over 50.
…..Which leaves the academics trying to fill in for the old corporate labs. Geim tells me of dinner a couple of years ago with senior staff from one of the corporate children of ICI, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. “They were complaining … about how their stock price never went up. So I told them, ‘Shut your lab at Alderley.'”
He was being caustic: the hub at Alderley Park in Cheshire has been doing cutting-edge drug research for more than 40 years. “They laughed: ‘It will never happen.’ Then this summer Alderley’s closure was announced. And I looked up their share price and it had rocketed.”