Increasing numbers of British people are expressing deep disquiet over the obscene amounts of foodstuffs imported into our country, which require transportation over huge distances, unnecessary air miles and wasteful consumption of fuel. They realise that most of these foods can be grown or produced here. Accordingly, calls to ‘Grow it in Britain’ are spreading – a welcome sign of the vital need for greater agricultural self-sufficiency if we are to secure reliable food supplies for our population and prevent any prospect of hunger.
Yet, bizarrely, a similar call to ‘Make it in Britain’ is rarely heard, even though arguably it is even more important to a national economy to have the capability of manufacturing products and industrial goods that are absolutely essential to daily life. For without a comprehensive network of industry, a nation is utterly dependent on others for survival and has no dignity or inner strength. Industry is essential to life, as capitalism is not known for its pity or altruism.
Everyone can see the fundamental changes that a massive growth in industry has brought to the economies of China, India, Brazil and others. Undoubtedly, the world working class has been strengthened. But why should we allow capitalism to develop industry in new regions at the expense of its destruction in older industrialised countries? If we want a future, there needs to be a resurrection of industry, manufacture and science here in Britain as well.
‘Make it in Britain’ must be raised within unions, workplaces, sectors and communities the length and breadth of the country. Perhaps to begin with, just advancing the idea is important because the demand must enter the mental fabric of our society. But as the British capitalist establishment has been pursuing a policy of deindustrialisation to weaken our class for a number of decades, we know the matter has to go beyond mere calling and requesting. We have to come up with practical ways of restoring industry that people can either implement or bring pressure to develop.
Here are a few ideas to start the ball rolling: Contest the supremacy of finance capital over industry. Protect the remnants of our industry: no more closures. Buy British in state and council contracts. Form new types of banks that support industrial reconstruction. Consciously impart or hand over skills to the younger generation. Audit as a trade union movement those products we no longer make. Plan to fill those industrial gaps. Form cooperatives as stop-gaps to restore particular manufacturing skills essential to a thriving national economy.
Put your thinking hats on: come up with ideas of your own: popularise them.