Companies change hands periodically, of course, and the unhindered operation of a free market is an indication of a healthy democracy; however, trouble comes when politics interferes with that market, and when that market is allowed to function without proper safeguards against abuse or danger – and the government is guilty of both charges, as I will explain.
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There is a difference between protectionism and protection. Putting up barriers to trading with other states is viewed as an undesirable limitation on international competitiveness, while national protection is to do with a county’s security and overall wellbeing in the short and the long term. It is ironic that forms of trade protectionism are practised widely in many countries, including the US, Germany and France, while their national safety is undermined by their foreign and domestic policies in different ways, terrorism being an example in point.
In the UK, we have the situation where there are, seemingly, no policies aimed at shielding vulnerable sectors from cheaper imports, and where, by encouraging inward trade and investment from other countries, and selling land, gold and other assets to foreign buyers, we have made ourselves weak. Much of our manufacturing base has been foreign-owned for years, and much of it since has been closed down; we depend on Russia for oil, and, soon, China and France for our electricity and water; and property and land is being sold off, sometimes for purposes of money-laundering, at the expense of fair prices and citizens desperate for a home.
A country may be a friend today but an enemy tomorrow, and enemies will use every weapon they have to hurt their opponent. If our energy supplies, including our water, are controlled by outsiders, there is risk, If our manufacturing skills, particularly in steel production, have been lost, there is risk.
A nation needs to be able to protect itself from within, and needs to be independent in its ability to grow, create or make what it needs for the safety and survival of its people. When this has been assured, then international friendships can be encouraged, and co-operation will flourish, in a spirit of mutual respect and community spirit.