Rebuild Britain - Launched May 1st 2021
Major New Pamphlet
Launching November 2nd
Rebuild Britain's Manufacturing
A Strategy for Revival
Launching November 2nd
The devastating decline of British manufacturing over many decades is widely agreed. Now, we have to stop pretending that we can sustain a viable economy for the long term without rebuilding a larger and stronger manufacturing base.
Britain has a trade deficit chasm because we import vastly more than we export. We have largely stopped making things and buy too much from abroad, especially from the EU.
UK investment levels have been chronically low for many decades and we remain at the bottom of the OECD investment league table of industrial nations. That has to change.
The renaissance of British industry will not happen if left simply to market forces. It must be driven by government action on many fronts.
No to EU Militarisation
by Brian Denny
THE EU is using the chaotic US and British withdrawal from Afghanistan to implement its long-term strategic plans to develop its own military wing under the control of EU institutions to defend and extend its geopolitical interests.
Twenty-five EU ministers of defence met in Slovenia in early September to discuss the plans, including the so-called Strategic Compass, which provides the ability to deploy several thousand troops around the world. This could be agreed as early as November.
“We need to increase our capacity to be able to act autonomously, when and where necessary,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the ministerial meeting.
Rebuild Britain's Health Service
A historical perspective on
the state of the NHS
by Jenny Pearson
the state of the NHS
The creation of the National Health Service was a magnificent achievement. Previously health care was unaffordable for most working people. A visit to a doctor could cost as much as half a weekly wage. Consequently many illnesses remained untreated and either improved over time or deteriorated. Finance was sometimes provided by local councils or charities, and insurance companies for those who could afford them.
The Birth of the NHS
Aneurin Bevan was born in 1897, the son of a coal miner. He was one of nine siblings only three of whom survived. He left school at the age of thirteen and followed his father into the mine. It was during this time that his socialist aspirations developed and he became immersed in trade unionism. He became leader of the South Wales Miners and was involved in the General Strike of 1926. In 1929 he was elected as Labour MP for Ebbw Vale.
William Beveridge, concerned to improve the general health and wellbeing of the nation due to the austerity and decimation of the war produced his report in 1942. The Beveridge Report advocated that all working people should contribute to a state fund to be used to provide health and social care for all.
The Labour Party won a landslide victory in the 1945 General Election. Their manifesto promised universal health care influenced by the Beveridge report.
Clement Attlee became Prime Minister and Aneurin Bevan Minister of Health and Housing, who was to create the National Health Service.
The idea of State control was accepted by the majority partly due to the fact that under rationing during the war the health of the nation had improved.
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Rebuild Britain's Fishing Industry
by Brian Denny
Develop our coastal communities for a sustainable future in an independent Britain
There is no doubt that fishing communities have felt the full brunt of European Union membership under the Common Fisheries Policy just like other industries and areas have suffered from EU directives demanding the privatisation of our railways and the general de-industrialisation of this country.
As a result over 700,000 tonnes of fish are removed from UK waters every year by EU fleets that are allowed to fish up to the six-mile limit with virtual impunity.
Brexit Deal Bad for Fishing Industry
Yet the Brexit trade deal agreed at the end of 2020 was a further blow to the industry as EU boats will continue to fish in UK waters for some years to come. Added to this the EU has effectively put a blockade on fish exports on Britain with new customs arrangements and vindictively banned the import of live shellfish that are often landed from the same fishing grounds as French fishing boats.
Download the full pamphet documenting the effects of EU membership on Britain's fishing, and how we can rebuild the industry. Each download is 12 MB.
Government Failure to Protect our Fishing
Failure to support the British fishing industry in a deal with Norway could lead to hundreds of jobs lost on Humberside.
Make Britain Self-reliant
What is Self-Reliance?
Self-reliance is not self-isolation let alone self-sufficiency. Neither is it protectionist; it provides protection not protectionism; protection for the nation’s inhabitants and its natural resources.
It means creating a safe space to inhabit, a secure nation with a strong industrial base that can confidently forge non-exploitative links with other nations.
A corollary of self-reliance is respect for the environment. Looking after our own environment to ensure long-term sustainability will cease to be a box to be ticked or a tax to be paid and become an integral part of our economic activities.
Services Dominate Britain's Economy
A key aspect of self-reliance is the need to rebalance the economy away from the service sector. Services are important, including financial services, but they are subordinate to the sectors they service. Unlike manufacturing, they are not a primary source of wealth creation and treating them as such distorts the country’s economy.
Currently, services account for 80% of the economy, a ratio that is no longer sustainable; it is like having more TV service engineers than TV receivers. A national conversation on post-pandemic Britain is currently under way and everyone must be involved. Trade unions are leading the debate.
This is what the manufacturing union Unite had to say immediately after the trade deal with the EU was agreed:
‘The government must not be allowed to put its feet up and claim job done. Far from it. The new year will bring a need to roll up our sleeves in the national interest and build the broadest possible alliance to safeguard and advance the long-term interests of our manufacturing heartlands.’
The TUC spelled it out
“Now the prime minister must make good on his promise to level up Britain. And he needs to act fast. There can be no more pointing the finger at the EU. Government must deliver an industrial strategy for decent work, with investment in jobs and green industries in parts of the country that need it most.
“Ministers must also urgently build on this deal to overcome the barriers to trade and higher production costs many sectors will face which puts jobs at risk. And we will not accept a race to the bottom on rights.”
Unity Within Britain Needed
As this conversation develops, it will bring the various parts of Britain together. In particular, it will help to strengthen Scotland’s place within the union. Scottish workers will find that they have more pressing matters of rebuilding the country than wasting time talking about independence, a topic designed to separate them from their sisters and brothers in the rest of Britain.
Rebuild Britain's Railways
by Bob Ansell
A self-reliant Britain will depend upon a modern, well-structured and efficient public railway.
But the future looks vague and uncertain at best after the delayed publication of the Williams Rail Review - the government’s independent root and branch review of Britain’s railway. The government has wasted two years since its initial consultation period closed, and then come up short on protecting our infrastructure.
The main conclusions of the Review are mixed. There will be a rebranding of course but the main substance of the report shows that the government is not committed to the main recommendations from those consulted. For example, ASLEF, Britain’s trade union for train drivers, put forward six key recommendations, all of which would contribute to rebuilding Britain’s railway network. ASLEF called for:
• A railway that is vertically integrated and in the public sector
• A responsive attitude to investment that is informed by local knowledge and decision-making
• Clear and reasonable ticketing options for passengers
• A railway that is part of securing healthy, connected communities with economic and social opportunities for everyone
• A safe and efficient, accessible railway
• A programme of infrastructure investment laid out that will benefit the whole of the country
To most people ASLEF has put forward sensible and even modest recommendations, and the public should ask why they have not been implemented in full.
But these recomendations have been largely ignored by the The Williams Review. While it does argue for some restructuring of the management of the railways and for more control of private contracts, in reality the proposals simply want to tinker round the edges.
Despite recognising the abject failure of the privatisation carried out by John Major’s government in 1994, the Review has failed to seize the opportunity to regain full public ownership and control for our vital infrastructure.
Williams Review Weak and Vague
The Review is weak and vague on key issues. The position of the Rail and Maritime Union (RMT) is clear on these failures. It says that;
“The Government talk about ending a generation of fragmentation but then leave the same private companies in place under this arrangement to extract management fees that could be invested in building a truly integrated national rail network. The taxpayer carries all the risk while the train companies carry out bags of cash.
“If the Government were serious about recognising the impact of failed rail policy down nearly three decades, they would cut out the middleman, strip away the dead weight of the private companies and work with their staff on building a transport system fit for the future, where investment in the workforce and infrastructure comes first.”
Rebuilding Britain means putting a stop to the private sector plundering of our railways, taking profits when they can and unloading the risks and losses on to the public when things look bad.
Rebuild Britain's Industry
by Geoff Carter
What kind of Britain do we want?
A combination of events is forcing us to confront that and related questions with a new urgency.
What kind of Post Covid and Post Brexit economy and society should emerge from the devastation of Covid. What opportunities are offered by freedom from the EU? Can we also confront the climate crisis?
Unprecedented times require unique and creative solutions. Now is the time to seize the moment and begin to plan for and build an economy and ian inddustrial base that work for the people of Britain.
We need an industrial strategy guided by those who know their industries and how to build them for the future.
The Lucas Plan
Over forty years ago, workers at Lucas Aerospace developed what came to be known as the Lucas Plan, a radical alternative to redundancies and the military products and the working methods of the company.
Faced with massive redundancies in 1976, shop stewards from all the Lucas plants consulted their members and produced an alternative plan which included over 150 designs for alternative products. Many of the designs were for socially useful products in contrast to the military emphasis of much of the Lucas output.
What can we learn today from the Lucas Plan? Read more here.
Rebuilding Britain's Environment Outside the EU
The Environmental Case for Brexit
Book Review by Fawzi Ibrahim
Britain is and always has been a global leader in international environmental policy and law; and it can do even better now we are out of the EU. This is the striking message from Ben Pontin, author of The Environmental Case for Brexit, a non-polemic book whose purpose, says the author is to allay the fears of those who think that the EU is the only guarantor to environmental protection.
Taking ‘a broader socio-legal context’, Pontin explains the unique ‘British way’ of protecting the environment. He acknowledges the genuine concern expressed by environmentalists, concerns that have been manipulated and misrepresented by general media outlets during and after the 2016 referendum campaign, the purpose of which is to prove that that the UK is incapable of functioning as an independent sovereign nation. Though Brexit has been secured, attempts to undermine the British nation continues, the latest being the clamour for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
The ‘British way’ writes Pontin, distinguished the UK from those countries that invented the European Economic Community and embraced ‘some kind of supra-nationalism’. Whilst they too had their own ways of doing environmental law, they were more willing than Britain to treat environmental law as something new to be treated with suspicion.
Britain, by contrast, ‘empathised it embeddedness in national heritage’. This point was highlighted in the speech Peter Walker, the Secretary of State for the Environment gave at the Human Environment Conference in Stockholm in 1972. Britain, he said ‘had the world’s most established regulatory laws regarding industrial pollution control and nature conservation, the foundation of which were laid by Parliament at Westminster in Victorian times’.
These laws [gave] the expression to the ethics of “good stewardship” and the “good neighbour”. They constituted a ‘dynamic mix of “public law” and “private law”, written or unwritten’.
Pontin argues that ‘the British way is an evolutionary process that is rooted years, decades and even centuries prior to Britain’s entry to the European Community’. Conservation and protection of the environment did not depend on which party was in power. ‘Politics and laws in the 1970s would bear fruit in reduced waste in the future’.
Air quality is a case in point. ‘The smoke control areas under the Clean Air Act of 1956 were designed to be implemented incrementally over many decades as cleaner alternatives to the traditional open domestic fire became available.’ The seeds of that legislation, Pontin emphasises, ‘were the air Bills put forward before Parliament in Victorians times’.
Similarly, for water quality. The difficulty with the “EU good” water parameter, Pontin notes ‘is that it is unrealistically rigid’. In contrast, the “British good” yardstick is ‘more incremental and pragmatic’ and therefore more efficient. Nature preservation tells the same story.
Pontin questions the narrative that Britain was the “Dirty man of Europe” and needed its ways mended by the discipline of the EU. This he says, ‘does not withstand scrutiny’.
In conclusion, Pontin writes ‘my analysis leans towards the desirability of the British way independent of the EU’. His argument is based on four main points: simplicity, accountability, autonomy and the lack of a compelling reason for Britain to be part of a common environmental policy and law.
He ends the book with a question posed by Lord Diplock during a House of Lords Select Committee hearing back in 1979: ‘The environment is protected domestically. Why hand over, if only partly, to a new jurisdiction?
The Environmental Case for Brexit,
Hart Publishing, 2019
by Ben Pontin
Coming Soon - Manufacturing
A self-reliant nation must secure and control its own manufacturing capacity
During our membership of the EU, successive gevernments allowed, or even encouraged, the sell-off and dismantling of British manufacturing industry.
Key aspects of our manufacturing capacity are now in foreign hands, with owners only interested in keeping shareholders happy and securing profits at any price.
Manufacturing Decline Must Be Corrected
Our second pamphlet will document the attacks on our manufacturing base and its decline. Manufacturing in Britain now accounts for less than 20% of our GDP. In Germany, it is nearly 30% and in China 40%. A secure and sustainable manufacturing base is a pre-requisite of a self-reliant Britain.
Our manufacturing pamphlet will argue for the support structures, intervention and political will required to rebuild it.