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Is Britain a victim of its own making in losing out to China and others ?

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I grew up in the North in the 60s.
I remember most people in my street either worked down the pit or else in local factories.
We didnt have the internet then,but it didnt prevent me from knowing what people in other parts of the country were doing.
We had pottery and China in Staffordshire making cups and plates,and flower vases.
In Northampton they made shoes.
In Birmingham and Coventry we had British Leyland making Austin Rover and Triumph cars,
In Crewe we had Rolls Royce for those who could afford the North East we had Lancashire we had cotton mills in Yorkshire we had yet more pits.
The demise of our manufacturing base over the last 40 years has been progressive and inevitable.
I believe there are no single apportions of blame but a sequence of events.
Ther first I think was in the 1970s when Japan led the way with electronics.Although we has Sinclair and Amstrad,no way could they compete on design or quality to Pioneer Panasonic or Sony.
Datsun began the assault on the British car market when they introduced the Cherry and Sunny,they sold cars with standard fitments such as cigar lighter,heated rear windows,and headrests,that with British Leyland were optional extras.
Soon people who has traditionally bought Morris Marinas and Austin Maxis were now buying Japanese.
If you wanted to impress the neigbours with your Hi Fi-then you showed them your Technics class A system -which made their Bush or Fidelity system look like comparing a mini to a Porsche.
In my eyes this was the start of the exodus from buying British.
One thing to note is at that point there were still no signs of Indian or Pizza shops or Chinese takeaways on every corner-these were to come much later.
In the 80s Britain had a good chance to capitalise on future Oil needs-revenues from North Sea wells were good-but Maggie Thatcher was more keen to squander these revenues than to re-invest for the future.
As a result,we saw companies with the expertise go abroad.
Our National assets were sold-both Labour and Conservative governments are to blame.
As living standards rose,so did our spending,and the products we were buying gave way for the China dominance we see now.
We have sacrificed our own industry growth in pursuit of price.
Governments have given companies from China,Japan,Korea,India and others grants and assistance to set up factories here.
Can anyone imagine any UK company going to India and asking their Gov for cash to open a factory there ?
They would laugh very loudly.
Indian businessmen now own Jaguar Landrover,and not only did they get it for a song,but were given Government money to invest in it.
Britains coal industry disappeared-yet we are now importing coal from Poland at 50% more than what it would cost to produce here.
Shipbuilding contracts are being given to foreigners.
People make jokes these days about everything being made in China-its because the British stopped buying British because they didnt want to pay the British prices.
So we cant have it both ways.
The Condems are now engaged in a campaign to relaunch British Industry,but it is all a bit too late.
The Lancashire cotton mills and pottery factories in Stoke have long since closed.
But even if they do reopen they will only survive if people are going to put English pride above Chinese price.

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  1. ArtisanUK's Avatar
    If you want to be quite accurate, the decline of the British manufacturing base has not just been over the last 40 years - it started a long time before then. Part of the problem was - and still is - the availability of capital for investment: with financial institutions offering apparently good returns on a short-term basis even though nothing is actually made, and manufacturing industry offering possibly poorer returns on a longer term basis which would be at the mercy of the markets, it is hardly difficult to see why investment of capital in manufacturing industry became less attractive.

    From a historical perspective, the only astounding aspect of the decline of British manufacturing was that it took as long as it did.
  2. sarahsacc's Avatar
    Here! Here so very well said MARTIN3030.

    I would like to add to your blog by saying that I would welcome the opportunity for all of the above to reopen for business in this country one major problem I foresee is the workforce we would need to keep these companies going as most young persons do not want to work? I have employed 6 young people over the last 12 months and I have let them all go because they were so lazy and unreliable and whenever they were asked to do more they either couldn't or wouldn't! That said I have an extremely excellent 18 year old adminicon assistant in my office so she is the exception to the rule - I wonder though if she would be so good if her job was more physically demanding? Please do not take offense by my comments as this is the personal experience that I have had.

    We seem to have a youth culture that want to do the bear minimum for top rates - meanwhile back on planet earth we know that this is not possible! I started my working life at 11 years of age and I have grafted hard all my life as like your self you either left school to go into a job (college was for the brainy) or you went on the dole.

    I enjoyed the sense I pride that I had that I had my own money and the self-satisfaction that I had earned it all by myself it was not a hand-out as it is today. I was disgusted with my own daughter the other day because she thought someone was getting more Tax Credits than she was!!

    What have we become as a nation???

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