If you were asked to name the most well-reputed British trademarks, which would you pinpoint? Rolls Royce, MINI or BAE Systems may indeed make it onto your shortlist. Needless to say, however, recent decades have shown a stark decline in the growth of British manufacture. News of the highly possible Port Talbot steelworks closure is no exception to this damaging trend – a trend which is puncturing the British economy which already floats towards increasingly murky waters.
Events of the past week seem to echo one previously tumultuous period of British politics. In the same way that Margaret Thatcher’s administration oversaw closures of nationwide mining organisations in the 1980s, Port Talbot’s steelworks and its communities are being stripped of job security and their vibrant local economies.
The manufacturing sector, which once largely boosted the UK economy with material, machinery and utility production, will soon be no more. British governments must take an active role in stimulating such important manufacturing nuclei nationwide. Without close cohesion, large opportunities for economic expansion will continue to be carelessly and deliberately overlooked.
But don’t let me for suggest that pre-existing British producers are letting the nation down. Output must simply be radically increased through stringent state support in the same way that European producers like Germany flourish with tight state-economy bargaining. Spectating whilst the Tories allow British steel to succumb to the new trials of globalisation is criminal, and not to mention mindless. To speak of steel as just one example, a wealthy market is on our doorstep. A versatile product, steel alone can be used in bridges, roads and infrastructural development – developments for which we continually ignore possibilities of British product use. Whilst the Tory government continues to push ahead with developments such as HS2, using British materials should surely be a given. Many UK organisations rely on materials production, and giving back to the economy is a necessity for revived national success.
As economic power shifts towards the eastern side of the globe, countries like China and Thailand continue to take up shares of the markets that Britain could easily make a more indelible mark upon. Studies have shown that political power comes with economic power. Rejuvenation of the economy into the manufacturing power which it once was is simply vital, whilst maintaining the already strong business and service sector. The creation of a more self-sustainable nation and the continuation of exporting goods may even prevent such damaging budget cuts to working people as well as boost GDP, raise life quality, push more into jobs and help local economies thrive.
Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Port Talbot on Wednesday did bring hope. In front of scores of loyal workers workers, the Labour leader proclaimed that a large state-business co-operation would ensure future sustainability. The lacklustre ‘commitment’ of Sajid Javid, Scretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, exposes the unpragmatic nature of Tory politics. Our government is shamefully willing to watch the steel industry crumble like previous governments watched that of the coal mines only decades ago. Whilst full scale nationalisation may not be wholly necessary, let alone be an outcome favoured by the Prime Minister, a new attitude to the way our nation’s manufacturers operate must emerge. Where are the state incentives? Where is the collaboration and cohesion? And where are the 100% British developments which must be encouraged?
It is now time for the state to fully re-energise British industry – a feat not possible without wholehearted commitment and inspiration from our government, which in 2015 pledged to stand up for hardworking people. Whilst I don’t predominantly advocate for a revival in patriotism, a rethink regarding the importance of British manufacturing is imperative. New government motivations are needed, or else our nation’s production abilities will soon be a far cry from those two generations ago. The Tory government must stop dismissing the country’s economic potential as a self-sustainable producer and reincarnate its fast-diminishing presence within global trade and national development.