Letter: Assessment of UK plc

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The Independent Online
Sir: I have just spent three weeks in the United Kingdom on holiday, which gave me a chance to talk to the locals, commuters and shopkeepers.

I was surprised how much insecurity and depression I found among what I suppose can be termed as the middle- and lower middle-class population in the South of England. I was also surprised how very high the prices of food and clothing were, in spite of the Government's claim of a 4 per cent inflation rate.

It seems to me that prices, especially in supermarkets, have risen considerably more than that. So we have a vicious circle of there not being enough money, except possibly for the rare small luxuries of life such as a bottle of wine, and the reluctance to spend money because the big companies are still firing people.

One particular thing I noticed was that the Thatcherite privatisation has not brought competition. All it has done is shift the monopolies from the public to the private sector, putting some money into the public purse, but not benefiting the consumer. This is especially noticeable with British Telecom and the water companies.

At this moment, looking from outside, there seems very little hope that the recession Great Britain is suffering will be over before the end of 1993.

Yours faithfully,

W. M. SULKE

Hong Kong

24 July

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