Going South


I recently finished reading Going South: Why Britain Will Have A Third World Economy By 2014 by Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson.

While I enjoyed parts of the book, I don’t think I can really recommend it: it reads a bit like some articles strung together with a bit of editorial glue — there are too many repetitions and a lack of a coherent narrative to make it readable.

I also think they lack a scientific approach. If I had decided to explore whether Britain was developing a third world economy, I would first define a series of tests to distinguish a first world economy from a third world one, and I would then apply the tests to the British economy.

However, they’re generally just chatting along, and it’s not really clear whether they think it’s London, England, Britain, the EU, the English-speaking countries or all of the first world that is facing relegation to the third world.

They’re also variously criticising Britain for doing things differently from most EU countries and bemoaning the influence of the EU over the UK.

The over-all impression is basically two Englishmen sitting in a pub, convincing each other that the country is going down the drain and that everything was much better in the old days.

In spite of the shortcomings, there are quite a lot of interesting tidbits in the book, and I did enjoy the historical sections outlining the UK’s gradual decline since the industrial revolution, so if you’re a fast reader, it might be worth spending a few hours skimming through this book.