Friday, 1 January 2010

Re-Balancing Act

The fragility of the UK industrial and manufacturing base is underlined by the depth of the recession that continues to reign in the UK.  Without financial services we are very little.  Glancing at European once-equals but now leaders in exiting recession and growing again (the UK is still  shrinking) two factors are noticeable among the so much more successful  -  an extant, if uncomfortable, industrial and manufacturing base, and competent government.

The notion 'base' covers issues of dynamic complexity.  Physical plant, infrastructural support, and work-competent communities are not the product of command decision-taking.  They are organic and cumulative.  Once lost there is no way back by simple or quick measures.  And the loss of UK industry and manufacturing was particularly abrupt and final,  destructively far-reaching.  In part this was the result of well-rehearsed factors of lack of competitiveness, deliberate union-based sabotage, the exhaustion of the natural resources to be exploited profitably, and a government failure to seek the conservation and reform of less tangible but just as real resources  held within working communities.  The political damage to our entire culture of work and social patterning was bad enough, but the economic damage is of sowing-with-salt proportions.

This is not to say that there are not pockets of advanced, and small-scale manufacturing installed, particularly around the great universities in their science parks;  but none of this provides the employment and life-styles, the security of capacity to support ourselves, the self-determination and freedom from reliance on government provision that a mature capitalist democracy offers to its citizens.

Manufacturing industry must be set up in the United Kingdom all over again.  The unforgivable  failure under more than a dozen years of Labour government to use the resources available to facilitate the re-establishment of  a balanced economy, the ideological choice to use those resources to build a client state instead, has multiplied every aspect of disadvantage.  Incredibly it was the declared policy of New Labour to abandon middle-level technology manufacturing.  They set out to create an economy of the enabled and rich, and a serving class of state-dependent, poorly educated, and poor. Permanently cast in this mould under permanent progressive, global governance. The whole to be served up by a compelling message, an appropriately groomed media enterprise.

The 'news' that UK companies are reimporting manufacturing production due to poor quality standards delivered in manufacturing complexes abroad is broadcast by the BBC  and an inter-related network of industry and manufacturing media fronts, both freshly founded, and  taken over but paid for by Labour-allocated tax funded resources.  Look up the sources for these reports.   And then consider the complexities and time profile of re-establishing manufacturing, even at the levels of France or Germany, in the UK. 


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