Monday, 6 April 2009

Switzerland - a model for the UK

I returned early Sunday morning from a one week ski jaunt to Zermatt on the South side of the Matterhorn. It is a supremely well run country. Everything is clean, well staffed and efficient. The trains run to time, connect brilliantly and railway stations are spotless. There is no litter even although Zermatt has a MacDonalds! They have preserved their old farm buildings, all in wood and most over 300 years old. They have preserved their heritage and will pass on to their children what was passed on to them. They have superb engineering firms like Brown Boveri that build not only Swiss trains but trains and bridges worldwide. Their pharmaceutical firms like Ciba Geigy are world leaders. Nestle is a household name worldwide and the jewel in their crown is their banking sector which currently has its problems but they seem minor compared to ours.

The have a strong Catholic and Protestant tradition but none of our religious based social problems. I saw no one in Muslim garb although clearly there were many workers from Islamic countries. Nor did I see a mosque. They have four official languages but French and German dominate and everyone I met spoke both fluently. Their universities like the ETH at Zurich where Einstein, a Jew worked, are world class. Their children are well educated, well trained and have the prospect oft good well paid satisfying jobs.

How did they achieve such an excellent society for all ages where we have failed?

I believe the reason is their strong local democracy with few professional politicians and frequent referendums on anything and every thing. I remember the Lord of our village, Paddy Ashdown, laughing at this and saying how ridiculous it was to have a referendum on changes to a bus timetable. He missed the point in his usual arrogant LibDem way. Swiss services do what the Swiss people want not what the politicians and bureaucrats want because of the referendum system! Immigrant labour is used widely in the service sector but it is tied to a time limited residency permit. When the job finishes an immigrant worker has to return to his country of origin. Although the headquarters of the Red Cross and numerous other international agencies asylum seekers are not pandered to, or given state benefits as they are in the UK. They are mainly returned to their country of origin.

There is no PC correct worship of a multi-cultural society. It is a Swiss society and those that do not accept that are asked to leave.

Non-Swiss nationals cannot own property in most cantons. The Swiss want to keep their country not sell it! It takes around 20 years of self supporting crime free work before an immigrant can apply for Swiss citizenship. I wish the UK had such a system. We have given our country away and despite the claims that immigration is good for the false god of economic growth, which nations have the highest standard of living in Europe? Why the Swiss and the Norwegians by far.

It seems to me people's quality of life in a country is positively correlated with its number of referendums and negatively correlated with the number of politicians. The UK has near enough ten times the number of politicians as the USA. Nuff said.



Interesting. What a contrast.

English towns and cities pioneered local control centuries ago.

You are absolutely right, the United Kingdom must reestablish local control, leave the EU and establish new political parties - parties responsive to the people with excesses curbed and no one allowed to stand as MP unless he or she has spent 20 years in business or raising children.

All the best,



Note: Regrettably my suggestion that MPs be required to possess real world experience before serving would omit Pitt the Younger - but after all, he introduced the income tax, didn't he?

Greg L-W. said...


interestingly Rob McWhirter having started work in Switzerland last year on an agency contract has just bought property in Switzerland.

The laws on land purchase are it seems flexible!

Greg L-W.

Eric Edmond said...

Greg you are correct. I think it varies with the Swiss Canton. In the popular tourist areas like Zermatt no Foreigners. In big cities like Zurich where I think Rob is based foreigners are allowed to buy flats. Citizenship requirements vary with Canton as well but I think 20 years is a rough average - at least that's what I was told in the early 70s when I was offered a job at the ET

Eric Edmond said...

Greg I was thinking about what has happened in the UK in popular second home villages in the West Country where the locals have been priced out of the property market by the London foreigners,their communities are destroyed and out of season they are like ghost towns. Zermatt property ownership law stops this happening. We should do the same.