Panned… All the UK has done since the 70s is invent a vacuum cleaner, says controversial new book
- The Rise And Fall Of The British Nation rejects our entrepreneurs of recent times
- Its author, David Edgerton, is a professor of modern British history
- He says research and development spending has fallen since the 1970s
Margaret Thatcher failed to unleash an entrepreneurial culture, a new account of business history has concluded.
The book rejects our most feted entrepreneurs of recent times as pale imitations of those of the past.
The Rise And Fall Of The British Nation argues ‘the list of great entrepreneurs whose animal spirits were unleashed in the new dispensation of the late 1980s and 1990s is rather thin’.
Dismissed: New book brushes aside the achievements of inventor Sir James Dyson
Its author, David Edgerton, is professor of modern British history at King’s College London.
He says research and development spending has fallen since the 1970s and that Britain has a culture ‘that unleashed no serious entrepreneurs at all’.
His book is likely to be politically controversial.
Conservatives believe the Thatcher revolution – privatising state-backed firms, reducing the power of trade unions and reforming the City in the Big Bang – freed business to generate wealth.
The Rise And Fall Of The British Nation by David Edgerton
In the book Edgerton takes a swipe at some famous businessmen.
‘Sir James Dyson invented a new vacuum cleaner and a public lavatory hand-drying system. This is not the sort of transformational success that, say, Lord Nuffield had with motor cars in the interwar years,’ the book says.
Lord Nuffield founded the Morris car company and has been described as ‘the most famous industrialist of his age’.
Sir Richard Branson, Edgerton says, was ‘nothing like as pioneering as an airline boss as Sir Freddie Laker of the 1960s and 1970s’. Laker was one of the first airline entrepreneurs to operate a no-frills service.
Edgerton describes Lord Sugar as ‘no Bill Gates’ in a disparaging comparison with the Microsoft founder.