Shropshire Star

Political column - May 20

Red Robbo, Arthur Scargill, dodgy televisions, Clydebank shipyards, the Austin Allegro, and choking acrid fumes from steel foundries.


The past shamers have yet to sit in final judgment on those times so I cannot currently give advice on whether you should reflect on them with pride and nostalgia or shame and guilt.

In any event, the famous and far sighted environmental campaigner Maggie Thatcher put a stop to all that in the 1980s. She sacked all those who were mining planet-destroying coal, decimated the nation's polluting industrial and manufacturing base, and gave the displaced and dispossessed opportunities in other fields for which they were armed with basic computer lessons and the like.

Steel and ships could be made much more cheaply by foreign companies, so why bother with a British steel and ship industry?

And the last rites were given to the British volume car industry, so that today there are essentially no truly British cars like the Morris Marina, the gear stick of one (a Marina van) once came off in my hand, just cars assembled in Britain by vast multinationals.

New hi-tech companies moved in from abroad with the advent of the great god of globalisation, an interdependent world based on trade and, if not friendship, at least international cordiality and symbiotic partnerships.

Britain embraced a model leaning on what used to be called "invisibles," comprising services and financial services.

When the Cameron-Clegg-Osborne austerity axis decided to slash police numbers to save a few coppers, it occurred to me that one day the chickens would come home to roost.

Similarly, are we now about to see the globalisation chickens come home to roost?

The bet was that reasonably friendly and mutually beneficial relations would continue. The war in Ukraine and increasing concern over China, a techno giant on which you may be depending if you are reading this on a device, has put a question mark over whether giving up strategic capabilities and capacity has been a long term mistake.

The initial response of the EU to the war in Ukraine was complicated by the fact that some nations, like Germany, were so heavily reliant on Russian oil and gas. Resisting Russian energy blackmail has involved sacrifices and economic hardship.

Now major car manufacturers in supposedly "global Britain" have warned that incoming EU tariffs resulting from Brexit could cause them to up sticks, with the potential loss of large numbers of jobs.

That's because Boris Johnson's fast-approaching ban on the working classes having new cars – new electric cars are beyond the financial reach of many ordinary folk – is backfiring.

Britain's car industry is geared up to go electric but unfortunately Britain is a million years behind other countries which have developed battery-making capacity.

Meanwhile skills and labour are being imported on such a vast scale that the country would grind to a halt without them.

It is maybe only a matter of time before somebody comes up with a slogan to "make Britain great again," although it would fail the credibility test because Britain can no longer make anything.


On Eurovision night we went to a local hostelry where there was an idiot with a red, white and blue wig, Union Jack worn as a scarf, Union Jack bow tie, and Union Jack waistcoat.


My wife's idea. The place was holding a Eurovision fancy dress event and she thought we should do something special for the evening. "You wear the wig," she said as we went out.

Even with the place's TV turned up to a maximum volume of 100 the general hubbub meant we couldn't hear the songs at all, so all we had to go on were the subtitles containing the lyrics, and the spectacle of singers in Y-fronts and so on.

The people next to us were great Eurovision fans who had been unable to get into the actual event, and they even had a scoresheet. How they, or anybody else, can score the contest is a mystery, even if they can hear it.

Being able to see the lyrics was enlightening in so much as it revealed them in all their grisly translated glory.

A young lad took a shine to the wig. Having no further use for it, I gave it to him as we left.

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