It is 25 years since the last great industrial dispute in Britain – the year long Miners’ Strike of 1984. The collapse of the strike in spring 1985 effectively settled the argument about future energy provision in the UK with the eclipse of the coal industry and the start of the ‘dash for gas’ from supplies and suppliers in the North Sea and on continental Europe. The majority of the UK’s existing mining industry was wound down and closed in the following decade, although a rump industry survives.
You wonder if something similar isn’t now happening to financial services. We have discovered that much of our apparent national wealth was largely based on foreign-owned financial resources being taken into and out of the City of London. That resource has vanished in the global financial crisis and the government is now trying to fill the enormous black holes which have opened in our accounts as a result.
In among the murk, it is clear the City of London is going to very much less powerful than it has been. It’s all rather like the end of the old mining industry.