The chancellor failed to mention the word ‘manufacturing’ once during his Autumn Statement last Thursday.
The main thrust of his speech was that the economy is on course for sustained growth. But he warned that the green shoots need careful tending, so austerity must continue for the duration of the current government and probably beyond. Living standards will therefore continue to fall and welfare benefits will be reduced.
Given that the improvement in the economy is being achieved through credit, printing money, the spending of savings and, worryingly, another housing bubble, what we are seeing are false shoots that cannot strike deep roots, if indeed they are shoots at all.
To mix metaphors shamelessly, we haven’t got a bigger cake; we’re just tinkering with strategies for sharing out the same old meagre stale offering. It would be so much better if we were to put our efforts into producing a larger cake, a cake large enough that even if it is divided unequally, anyone receiving the smallest slice might be adequately nourished. Of course, in order to do that, we simply must develop our manufacturing base. It is truly shocking that George Osborne didn’t even think it worth mentioning.