Was the destruction of British industry in the 1970’s and 1980’s inevitable?
Was the destruction of British industry in the 1970's and 1980's inevitable? was there any way in which British industry could of been reformed in such a way as to save the industry or was it inevitable that it had to wither away? Is the blame for this primarily on Mrs Thatcher or do her predecessors bare some responsibility for what happened as well?
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The reform of British industry could of saved it from total destruction.
British industry could have been saved if it had undergone a thorough reform and re-organisation, looking to our European counterparts and how they run their industries focusing on the numbers employed in industries and individual factories, the size and location of factories, modern technologies and the quality of the items produced. This would sit alongside the refocusing of the relationship between the government and industry, in particular the need to nationalise vast swaths of industry such as the car industry, steel and iron industry, shipbuilding and aerospace. We should of focused instead on leaving industry under private control and exerting government influence through better regulation and financial support instead of nationalisation. This would of had the effect of allowing businessmen to run the companies on a profit and at a competitive edge, which the post war nationalised industries plainly didn't. Finally government should not have focused on backing one industry over another which too often represented how government played a part in industry during the post war period , instead they should have supported all industry in the ways I outlined above.
The taming of Trade Union power earlier could of allowed serious reforms to take place
If the trade Unions had been tamed earlier as outlined for instance in Barbara Castle a Place in Strife then there would of been greater opportunity to carry out radical reform of industries and face down the quite virulent hostility that faced attempts to reform before the Thatcher Trade Union legislation in the 1980's. The ability to carry out serious reform which would of involved job losses and the closure of factories would of been impossible in the 1960's and 1970's without major strikes that would of forced the government to compromise.
Industry should of remained in the private sector and nationalisation of industry should of been a measure of last resort.
The nationalisation of industry should of only been used as a last resort and indeed only when all other opportunities were seen to not of worked, this would still of involved the respective industry being put back into the private sector as soon as it was deemed necessary. The government of the day and indeed the governments in the 1960's and 1970's ran nationalised industries in an inefficient and bureaucratic manner that focused securing full employment and not on running a competitive and profit making business producing good quality goods for a mass market. By running industry as I outlined earlier as private companies and profit making, rather than nationalised but with government regulating and financing in a way that still gave the government a interventionist role but focused on backing all industry and not a select few could of seen British industry saved and become a competitive and profitable sector. Finally by still allowing the government a interventionist role in British industry would of meant that the government of the day could of encouraged companies to merge or join together if one or the other was failing or wished to join forces to allow it a better chance against bigger UK companies or international companies. This practice of encouraging companies to merge was something that the both the post-war governments did and the inter-war governments, these mergers ranged from the big four railway companies in 1923 to the British Aircraft Corporation in 1960 amongst others.
Surviving reformed British industry could of played a important role in the UK economy
A surviving British industrial sector could of played a important role in the UK economy and could of acted as a counterweight to the rise of the financial sector in our economic system. With a vibrant, competitive and modern industrial sector the many areas that previously made up British industry such the the car industry, steel and iron, shipbuilding, aircraft building, trains, coal and many more could of still been with us and indeed on a scale that matched their previous importance on the UK economy. With a different approach to industry and the reforms that I outlined earlier industry wouldn't of had to die a painful and disastrous death.
The UK government could of gained a stake in companies of major importance to the UK economy
The UK government could of gained or kept shares in industry that it transfered into the private sector or which already sat in the private sector. This could of been used in major industries of high importance to the UK economy and to the government, such industries would include defence industries such as aerospace and shipbuilding, coal industry and others. This would of allowed the government o have a say in the direction in the company and to ensure that is was remaining a competitve and profitable business, stepping in with financial support or loans when it was in need or assiting in a merger or tie-up with other companies.
Any industry owned by the state should of been run at arms length and by business expert
Any industry owned by the state should of been run at arms length with limited government interference and by expert businessman or women who would of been tasked with making the company a profitable and competitive enterprise pruducing good quality materials or products.
What do you think?