The UK's economic future, accident or design?

The EU leaves us with fewer options.

100% British bus.100% British bus.
Stephen Bayley, he is an expert on style and design but rose to wider prominence during the creation of the project now known as the Dome. It was the fall-out following his resignation from the steering committee that did the trick. Bayley was worried, saying of the Dome "it could turn out to be crap". He also said that Peter Mandelson was -"running the project like a dictator". Mandelson indicated that these remarks 'did not merit a response', thus we can conclude they are probably correct!

Now comes the tricky bit. Bayley has, like Mandelson funnily enough, come to the conclusion that the UK should do more manufacturing, who could disagree?

The problem comes when you look at Bayley's background, he appears to never have been involved in manufacturing. This is crucial. For while the astronomer Sir Patrick Moore is an expert on the moon but has never been there it is a bit different with making things. The well worn epithet "hands on", normally meaningless as it is misapplied, relating to yet more discussion and not action is in fact very apt here.

In a Times article Bayley makes a number of worthwhile comments and gets off to a good start with -

1 - "Britain has successively, even systematically, abandoned key industrial technologies".

Continental bus Continental bus
2 - "It remains to be seen if it is as feasible as it is desirable to recover lost skills and actually manufacture the goods we want to consume".

Then a change of direction which gives the game away.

3 - "No one expects any sentimental return to the production of greasy, heavy things in soot-stained factories operated by sweating, under-paid artisans in leather aprons. (They have those in Asia.)"

However, there is not one mention of the EU, is this important? You bet.

It's as if Bayley has not noticed what has been happening. In his first statement about key industrial technologies for example. The fact is the UK has stopped making steel at the Corus plant in Redcar and aluminium smelting in Anglesey so to comply with an EU directive. This has come about because the EU has fallen for the carbon trading climate change scam. Steel and aluminium are the most important materials in manufacturing. To contemplate a revival in manufacturing without being able to make the basics is strange.

In the second statement Bayley swings his argument around the words 'feasible' and 'desirable'. The recovery of a skilled workforce as the starting point for both short and long term prosperity is obviously not only desirable but essential. But it will not be feasible if it is unable to guarantee a steady supply of raw materials.
Future bus Future bus
The case Bayley makes is further ruined by his third statement. Here the pivotal word is 'sentimental'. It's fundamental to return to a position of a regular supply of raw materials, sentiment is irrelevant. The 'heavy' things Bayleys refers to, are they the rails and sleepers for a new high speed rail service the UK badly needs? Quite possibly so. The UK cannot simply make nice tableware to be sold at high prices to the well-off and expect the economy to flourish.

But as said before the UK's options on economic recovery are being constrained by EU directives that will help China more than us. Bayley may have been the Curator of the Design Museum but his knowledge of the practical side of manufacturing seems weak.

Footnote - Design in action -

The Routemaster bus, top picture, was made in London and a master-piece of design. It suited the streets of the city and supported British engineering The second picture is of the hated 'Bendy', imported and less suited for London streets. The third picture is of the proposed Routemaster replacement. Just how many of the components as opposed to the design is UK sourced remains to be seen.