The 1970 myths of today’s patriots

Britain in the seventies was the sick man of Europe, a basket case. Another Tory myth to add to all the other narratives invented by the instigators of so many lies about the UK. I think they like to call themselves patriots.

The British economy was in difficulty in the 1970s because those self-same patriots had failed to invest in the country and its people.

It had little to do with the welfare state or nationalised industries, but reflected the failures of British capitalism.

12651226_905801786204671_8708070069628102141_nSince the end of the second world war in 1945, European countries such as France, Italy and Germany, had invested heavily in their industries and their workforce. And the Germans in particular had developed a far superior attitude to industrial relations.

I worked in British industry during the of the 70s, on a shop floor. The machines we used were brought back from Germany immediately after the end of the war. They were at least 40 years old in the70s. Using this equipment we were 1supposed to compete with French and German manufacturers. It’s hardly surprising we struggled.

Japan had also invested heavily and was far superior to the UK in terms of productivity and economic growth. This was due to the sustained, government-planned and supported, investment into their industries.

2In contrast, British industry had been starved of investment. The City and its financial institutions neglected industry and the workers. Their priority was short-term profit, immediate shareholder return, and overseas investment.Nothing changes.

As a result UK industry was in decline, after 40 years of neglect. In 1974 I voted for the first time. In February the Tory Government called an election on the back of “the three day week”. The Tories lost and the Lib-Lab Pact came into existence. Later that year there was another election and Labour gained a majority.

Labour’s industrial strategy was to give greater strategic direction and investment through the national enterprise board, planning agreements and targeted regional investment. The City and Conservative Party opposed this, probably because it cut off their own selfish aim of short-term profit.

Alan Bailey, Treasury under-secretary in 1973-79, writing about Labour’s industrial policies of the 1970s, concluded that its attempt at following an active industrial strategy was more positive and successful than is now portrayed in the patriotic Tory narrative of today. The decline of UK industry was all the fault of Labour, the trade unions and the workers. Utter garbage.

As for other economic indicators, such as inflation, there were particular causes, such as the oil crisis, which the 1974-79 Labour government inherited from its Tory predecessor. The Labour Government had some success in dealing with this, resulting in inflation halving between 1976 and 1979.

Then along came Thatcher with her purse and shopping bag economics.


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