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Editorial: Heseltine's questionable lesson in economics


Lord Heseltine has a striking explanation for Britain’s relative economic decline: we have become too rich and comfortable. In an interview we publish today, the former Deputy Prime Minister suggests that the wealthier a country becomes, the less willpower it has to strive economically.

He is right to note that “there is no God-given rule saying that you’ve got to have a well-performing economy” – a point lost on some people who assume that the prosperity of the West is a permanent fact of history.

However, the poorest parts of Britain tend also to be the least economically dynamic and aspirational, which undermines the thesis that problematic societies are inherently the most “driven”. Indeed, the opposite case can be made: that those with plenty tend to want even more. Lord Heseltine’s argument catches the eye but does not bear close scrutiny.