A little over 150 miles from Birmingham International Airport (about ‘three hours from taxi-to-taxi, as the EasyJet flies’) is Dublin. The capital of the small nation of Ireland, which is now the sixth wealthiest country in the world according to new figures on personal incomes. On a per-head income basis, the Irish now beat Britain, France and Germany – yet Ireland has a population about the same as the West Midlands. How did it manage to jump from being the poorest economy in western Europe, a deeply rural nation which used to see its highly-educated children forced leave the country in droves to find opportunities?

A small part of the miracle was substantial tax breaks for artists, alongside general drastic tax cuts, courting of inward investment, and a mass of general deregulation.

They boosted serious education through the ‘secret weapon’ that the British system seems to have forgotten about – namely, simply keep and recruit very good and very smart teachers, rather than wasting billions on gimmicks and things like e-whiteboards that don’t fulfill their potential if you have third-class teachers standing beside them. This enabled Ireland to “start making its already demanding education system more rigorous” (U.S. National Academy of Sciences). Yes, you read that correctly; more rigorous. How unlike our own dear dumbed-down school system, which has given the West Midlands an illiteracy rate of 24.4% of the population (source: Basic Skills Agency).

They also ramped up internet access, although with a patchy and slow rollout of broadband. Ireland, without growing its population significantly (+80,000 or so, or 1.15%), is now out-performing many of the East Asian “tiger” nations. And all done in just 20 years, bar a few bumps in 2002/3 from the .dot com crash and EU meddling.

Of course; the European Union is now squealing like a pig about all this success, and wants Ireland to revert to being a high-tax over-regulated bloatocracy like the rest of the EU.