This is an interesting contention

When Ted Heath signed up to the EEC, Britain was out of step with France, Germany, Holland and even Italy. The UK was a low-cost, low-wage economy when its neighbours operated behind high tariffs to protect high-cost, high-wage economies.

It’s not immediately obvious from Google whether this was true. Were British wages low compared to those other countries in the early 70s? I don’t in fat know but I don’t think it likely. So, where does the contention come from?

Then this is wondrous, isn’t it?

On the right it is favoured by free-market Brexiters like the economist Patrick Minford, who see the EU as a barrier to efforts at driving down the cost of living through access to cheap food (such as US chicken and beef), cheap energy and striking out almost every rule that protects workers’ rights.

Such a bastard, eh? Trying to raise real wages by reducing the costs of the things people buy.

18 comments on “This is an interesting contention

  1. If its in the Gladrag its lying leftist tripe. From a lying leftist who, in the late Robert Anton Wilson’s phrase: “lies morning, noon and night and lies some more in his sleep just to keep in practice”.

  2. I thought it took until 1970 or so for the Germans to catch up with the UK?

    They had about half the British GDP per capita during WW2.

  3. It suits the purposes of leftist to concentrate attention on wages, while they drive up taxes and costs to fund their schemes and keep them in power. Wages can be blamed on business and capitalism, cost of living via tax and regulation is blamed squarely on government.

  4. I’m a bit sick of pointing this out, but if we care about working class British wages then, in the name of all that is good and holy, stop importing hordes of foreigners and their semi-retarded offspring.

  5. I’d prefer some decent builders and plumbers than curry chefs. The former don’t tend to marry their cousins either.

  6. Certainly, before 1970, food in Britain was very cheap, but not much was pre-prepared. Oldies may remember ‘boil in the bag’ curry and rice, and maybe ‘TV dinners’. The choice of burger restaurant was pretty much limited to Wimpy.

    Chinese restaurants were beginning to enter the UK in the early 60s, and large towns had the odd Indian restaurant. Sometimes they offered great deals, like the 5-course ‘business lunch’ at 3/- (i.e. 15p), although you counted a poppadum as one course and coffee as another! I regularly consumed those.

    Massive inflation accompanied the change to decimal currency as people lost track of value. One factor was naming the new penny (100 to the £) like the old penny (240 to the £). Food started to increase in price after joining the EEC, but at the same time the variety increased. The change was less apparent due to the growth of supermarket chains.

    The one thing I remember coming down was the entrance fee to Kew Gardens. It had been 3d, and dropped to 1p, i.e. 2.4d,

    I was there!

  7. > Were British wages low compared to those other countries in the early 70s?

    Early 1970s maybe not. But by the middle of the decade the middle-class brain drain was in full swing; and in the early 1980s, manual workers from the depressed north left too (the “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” phenomenon). They wouldn’t have left if the wages on offer weren’t significantly higher.

    Actual figures are surprisingly hard to find. So I’m just speculating here.

  8. Andrew M, that’s post-tax wages, mostly caused by high income tax rates.

    It spread down the socio-economic bands, as you say high earners first, then the middle class, then manual workers, because the tax allowances and band limits didn’t keep up with inflation, dragging more people into the higher rates.

    But that’s directly the government’s fault. I think Tim’s trying to look at pre-tax wages, which is what the article in question is also claiming to be about..

  9. Well, this xertainlynisn’t true:
    “Brexiters know that a full-blown trade deal comes with free movement attached, which is unacceptable under the terms of last year’s referendum.”
    Just this week I’ve had a Remainer arguing wit the butter not melting, that NAFTA meant free movement. “They’re going to build a fucking wall” I protested. No matter; visas now mean free movementapparently. Humpty Dumpty is writing manifesti these days.

  10. But no. The EEC was not about high-tariffs. At the time it was all about providing lower tariffs for its members. This underpinned the move towards the single market. But time moved on, GATT happened and now we have the WTO with its rules. How far we’ve moved on can be seen by us fretting over whether the WTO means high tariffs. The EU has not moved on with the times.

  11. The Left hates Walmart. The world’s leading provider of cheap food.

    Because the unions have failed to get representation of their workers.

    ‘On the right it is favoured by free-market Brexiters like the economist Patrick Minford, who see the EU as a barrier to efforts at driving down the cost of living through access to cheap food (such as US chicken and beef), cheap energy and striking out almost every rule that protects workers’ rights.’

    The Left couldn’t care less about cheap food. Unionization is their goal, and they’ll say any damn thing to get it. There are masses of Leftards out there who think the Left actually cares about food cost.

  12. I spent a couple of years in Australia during the early ’70s. The country was booming at the time and there were lots of Brits who’d come out. Many told me that there were no opportunities in the UK (at that time). Australia was paying the fare for many of them provided they remain for at least 2 or 3 years.

  13. driving down the cost of living through access to cheap food (such as US chicken and beef)

    He could have illustrated the cheap food bit by mentioning imports from Africa, but he slyly put in the US boogeyman and so stopped dangerous speculation by the reader, who may have wandered off the reservation when they read “driving down the cost of living through access to cheap food”.

  14. The whole raisen detre of the WTO is to reduce tariffs and facilitate trade, so my brain melts when people say WTO and high tariffs in the same breath.

  15. @Rob

    +1

    Or South American beef, New Zealand Lamb etc which we already buy despite the high EU import tariffs as it’s still often cheaper.

    Remove import tariffs and more Beef & Lamb affordable by those in “poverty”.

    .
    Poverty: BBC QT 30 Nov & 7 Dec Liar Labour MPs stated thousands in UK living in Absolute poverty.

  16. Britain still had a highly bureaucratic Exchange Control system until 1979, making it rather tedious to trade for 40 years after the start of the War. The Treasury were insistent even then on the disaster that would follow removing it (shades of Brexit) but the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system (“a remarkable system of global coordination” [ie, price fixing]) a few years before had finally removed the last obstacle. The Exchange Control system as run was just a disaster for a previously global-trading country.

    “… operated behind high tariffs to protect high-cost, high-wage economies.”

    Same old, same old. Who pays the tariffs? Whom do they protect?

  17. The UK is currently forced to impose tariffs (not high ones, about 3-4%) on electronic devices that to my certain knowledge have no EU supplier and almost certainly never will have. Still, it adds to the input costs, what with customs processing fees, and the 3-4% goes off to keep the EU ticking over wasting money.

    Aside: it’s amazing that even after Brexit, the EU hasn’t so much as broached the idea that perhaps shifting the EU’s wee parliament between Brussels and Strasbourg (including carbon-eating lorries transporting physical files) is perhaps finally a bonkers stupid waste of money.

  18. @TW

    This doesn’t quite answer your question, but the Maddison numbers for 1970 show French and German GDPs per capita at 106% and 101% respectively of the UK level, i.e. living standards were more or less the same.

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