I have just watched a series of three television programmes about the building of the London Cross-Rail line. Two things could not fail to strike the viewer. Firstly the staggering level of human skill, knowledge, learning and sheer talent displayed from the top project and tasks managers and the design engineers involved and secondly that the vast majority of the specialised heavy equipment employed in the work had been imported from Germany.

That even the top managers and designers who are achieving this engineering miracle are paid, at best, salaries that would hardly amount to a fraction of an investment banker’s average annual bonus which, together with the chronic lack of investment in UK engineering manufacturing, seems to say something (maybe everything) about the twisted set of values that marks our nation’s priorities and keeps us behind other western nations. Britain sadly values making money way above earning it.

Robert Winston McNaughton


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