We’ve made references to the TV mini-series that shares this book’s author and title before, mainly to make flattering comparisons to The Apprentice. Having now read the book – an accompaniment, rather than a transcript – we can offer some business advice of our own. If we take on board Mr Davis’ argument that resources flow to where they can achieve the most, our recommendation would be that you work that extra hour, earn that extra 43p and buy 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism at Amazon instead. You can then watch Evan’s programmes on iPlayer for nothing – if you’re a UK tax-payer, you’ve already paid for them anyway. And we base our recommendation on Mr Davis’ own advice about openness to new thinking and new practices, and to investing in our own intellectual capital. Made in Britain is entertaining, as you would expect from a man who currently makes his living as a broadcaster, and uses plenty of accessible examples – but doesn’t quite satisfy on a number of levels.
The book sets out to look at the current condition of the British economy, identify strengths (which the author correctly argues are often under-sung) and weaknesses, and to posit possible futures. Writing from the perspective of ASK, it was encouraging to see two of our client organisations – Atkins and Mace – receive recognition for this success in the complexities of a globalised and internationalised world economy. There are many other positive examples in the book too but, although the naiveté of 1960s “I’m Backing Britain” campaign is rightly skewered early in proceedings, the counter-argument seems to boil down effectively to “things aren’t great, but they’re ok and it’ll all be fine in the end because economic theory says it will”. As a minority stakeholder in Davis plc, I finished the book longing for John Humphreys or James Naughtie to pipe up with a pointed question that starts with the word “But”. (And this morning’s GDP figures serve to underline that impression.)