Ireland is no longer on the edge of Europe but is instead an Atlantic bridge. High-tech companies such as Intel, Oracle and Apple have chosen to base their European operations there. I will be asking Google executives today why they set up in Dublin, not London… What has caused this Irish miracle, and how can we in Britain emulate it?
… in a world where cheap, rapid communication means that investment decisions are made on a global basis, capital will go wherever investment is most attractive. Ireland’s business tax rates are only 12.5 per cent, while Britain’s are becoming among the highest in the developed world.
World-class education, high rates of innovation and an attractive climate for investment: these are all elements that have helped to raise productivity in Ireland. It is not the only advanced economy to have achieved this uplift. Last week in Washington the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, told me about the impact that the sustained increase in productivity growth had made in generating prosperity in the US…
The new global economy poses real long-term challenges to Britain, but also real opportunities for us to prosper and succeed. In Ireland they understand this. They have freed their markets, developed the skills of their workforce, encouraged enterprise and innovation and created a dynamic economy. They have much to teach us, if only we are willing to learn.
Good job we're slow learners, or we might be in even worse economic shape, were that possible.
But what manner of man can this be, who hails the tremendous prosperity of the US and Irish economies, and obviously cannot see a cloud in the economic sky? Surely, while a talented polemicist, he should be kept well away from any influence over actual decision-making?
Er... oh. Oh dear, oh dear. Most unfortunate.
UPDATE - to be fair, the SNP's Alex Salmond, currently heading up the Provisional Government of Scotland, went one better, lauding the economies of both Iceland(c) and Ireland(r) as the template for a future independent Scottish economy. Had he got his way, it might have been the shortest independence ever and the greatest disaster for the Scottish economy since the Darien scheme - which led directly to union with England.