Years and years ago there was a slogan, ‘Buy British’, which ran for some time and was, indeed, heeded by the public, and I believe, if we would pull our heads out of the sand and look, we are in a worse state than we ever were except for the period round the General Strike in 1926. It was caused by serious problems in the coal industry in ’25, and also a large down turn in industrial production in ’26 with many of our markets being served from abroad. It is all in Google in detail.
They are sacking nearly a thousand workers in a factory in N, Ireland, because the whole machinery of the factory will be transported to an Asian country where they will produce the same products for a quarter or less, of the price. What happens here, and probably elsewhere in the UK is, in looking for industrial growth, the Government builds a factory and then offers financial inducements to someone, generally from abroad, to use for tooling and to employ a workforce. Our workforce overcomes all the teething problems and increases production, generally with in-house innovation. Then comes the day when the contract with the Government is completed and the company has fulfilled its responsibilities in accordance with it, and is now free to take the machinery, and the know-how elsewhere, where labour is cheaper. This has been going on for as long as I can remember, and the DeLorean Car was an extreme example.
We buy things we need or think we need, often the latter because it is such good value. Our houses are full of replacement tools, machines and gadgets from Asia when the European counterparts have worn out. The result, as we all know, is that we have no manufacturing base, and in consequence, no machines and workbenches for our youth to learn and gain real experience on, not just classroom experience.. It is a an ever tightening coil of circumstances until one day the Governments of Europe, not only the UK, will discover they haven’t anyone to teach the skills adequately, and all we are capable of is a bit of agriculture and buying, if we still have the money.
When the 900-odd job loss was announced a NI Minister said something like, ‘we would have to turn our attention to Intellectual Properties (Ideas and patents) as the way forward because we were good at it,’ or something along those lines. Rubbish!!
For a start, about only 5% of inventions, new ideas, call them what you may, ever have a hope of being examined by an entrepreneur, and about 2% ever really justify all the work. Think how long it takes to concoct a new medicine, have animal trials, pass government standards and receive approval to place on the market for general consumption. When I retired I designed a trolley for handicapped people with a power socket for a radio, or computer etc, an angle-poise lamp, a rise, fall and tilt desk top with a curb on three edges, casters, a cupboard, and drawer as an extra. Hospitals were interested in the variety of prototypes, but for them to purchase it it had to be tested and passed safe. That took so long, the government had time in about 82, to cut back, none were bought and the prototypes were given to a hospice. Another case; an idea, costing tens of thousands to patent Worldwide, was offered to a company, who liked it, but hadn’t the authority to go into production, it was passed up the line for the same treatment until it went to America where it stayed for too long, but nothing happened. In the end I think the inventors then went on their own, and lost a fortune. I write this long spiel to show how one cannot base the economy of a country purely on new products.
It is my fear that there will be a considerable reversal of fortunes in the next few years. If there are thousands of repossessions, there will be a drop in spending generally, sales will drop, equity will drop, and those who bought properties as an investment will be disappointed. Welfare will rise, taxes will increase because commitments have been entered into, but income from taxation will have fallen per capita. Some papers say we must tighten our belts; that is not the solution, that is a consequence. We must regenerate our trades, our exports and reduce our imports from Asia. I’m aware I criticise the EU, but it is my belief they will be in difficulties too, and if they are, their remedy will be like ours, We will all have to support Europe, manufacture within Europe and buy from Europe, and most of all manufacture in Briton and Buy British. But again, I can’t see it happening, or, if it does, it will be far too late. Watch for the red Dragon.