An analysis of Rebuilding Britain’s Manufacturing Economy

Leaflet Photo

An analysis of what Britain needs to do if it is to rebuild our industry and economy.

by Fawzi Ibrahim




You can read the pamphlet online and download a copy from here.

It’s hard to remember a time when public finances were more in the news.

The turmoil in currency and bond markets since the mini-budget have sparked debate around the role of the Bank of England, the question of whether politicians or markets are in control and the issue of whether the IMF should be intervening in British politics. So it feels like a good time to be discussing public finance and in particular the issues set out in the new pamphlet from Rebuild Britain “Government Spending and Debt: A New Approach”.

I want to make four points drawing on and building from that pamphlet.

First we need to take back control of the Bank of England and reduce the power of private UK banks. Second, we need to rebuild our industrial base including our transport and utilities infrastructure, re-establishing food and energy security. Third we need to drive forward productivity in the UK which would allow us to address the wage stagnation which has reduced the standard of living of workers and their families. Finally we need to re-invigorate democracy to re-engage the swathes of politically homeless and drive out the technocrats and experts trying to regain control following the populist revolts of Brexit, the gillets jaunes and the Canadian truckers.

Political Control of the Bank of England

It was galling to hear commentators suggest that in the aftermath of the mini-budget, the “adult in the room” was Andrew Bailey the governor of the Bank of England.

People may remember that the Bank of England was given independence by New Labour back in 1997. The arguments for this are that politicians are too short term, too much under the influence of voters, to be trusted with decisions on interest rates and money supply.

But it is this technocratic, expert led Bank of England that has reigned over the massive expansion of the quantitative easing they instigated in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. They have pumped around £900bn into the banks under this programme. This money has largely not been used to finance new investment but has simply bailed out zombie banks and some zombie companies. But it has also created an asset bubble which we are now seeing explode at home and abroad.

Many of these banks should have been allowed to fail. Instead billions was stuffed into bankers’ pockets. The Bank of England has become the lender of first resort not last resort.


But the problems don’t stop with the Bank of England. The private banks also create money in their lending practices. This money creation is controlled to some extent by the Regulation Authority through the requirement for reserves to be held by banks. But whilst this can establish some limits to the amount of additional money created by banks, it cannot control how that money is spent. As we know this money is often used to finance leveraged buyouts by the venture capital companies who now own many of our companies. This creates businesses with high levels of indebtedness who are vulnerable to interest rate rises and have structures where interest payment rank ahead of claims for higher wages.

The solution outlined in the Rebuild Britain pamphlet is to significantly reduce the level of private sector money creation by stricter reserving requirements. That would create the space for the Bank of England to increase the publicly created money supply – money supply which can be funnelled into rebuilding Britain.

Rebuild the Industrial Base and Establish Food and Energy Security

The first requirement to any rebuilding programme has to be cheap and secure energy. We can get that from UK owned and built nuclear. I’d also pursue fracking and for the short to medium term fossil fuels should continue to be a part of our energy strategy. Renewables and hydrogen can play a part but we shouldn’t imagine they can provide a full solution.

We also need to rebuild our transport, water, sewage and communication structure across the UK. Transport should stop focusing on getting people into and out of London and we should reconnect local towns including our coastal communities. I’d like to see a Northern loop line connecting our great Northern cities. Revitalising our transport should not be about forcing people out of cars but about providing attractive alternatives. We should be aspirational in this looking at mag-lev and other new technologies not used before in the UK.

We need to drive forward new industries forging partnerships between Government, our universities and the private sector. And we need to let zombie, debt ridden companies die in a burst of creative destruction.

Solve the Productivity Puzzle

Productivity in the UK has flatlined for the last forty years. Unsurprisingly this has meant the stagnation of real wages.

Discussion on the cost of living crisis today seems to assume that working people must suffer from the rising level of prices. But in the 1970s when inflation peaked at over 25%, the real disposable income of workers increased. What’s different now? There is clearly far less power in the hands of workers with far lower levels of trade union membership particularly outside the public services. And we have moved from an industrialized economy to one based on services and finances. Large swathes of the country are bereft of any productive jobs and the new economic model does not benefit the vast majority of working people. And we have no clear and thought through economic strategy. No-one talks of the white heat of the technological revolution. Interestingly the Labour Party’s new economic policy does seem to be taking steps in the right direction in this area.

Let’s work that policy up into something more organic – something that isn’t just a top down imposed solution but one that harnesses the skills and ingenuity of ordinary working people across industry, academia and communities.

Re-engage Politically

We also need to rebuild a way of engaging politically. I’m worried that many people find themselves politically homeless – myself included. The re-emergence of political engagement we saw in the Brexit vote is being contained by the political classes as they seek to re-establish bureaucratic control. I had thought that political upheaval had moved us away from that technocratic, expert led plutocracy. But the crowning of Jeremy Hunt – the precise embodiment of that stuffed-shirtness shows they are again circling their wagons.

We need politics and the trade unions to move away from the identity obsessed politics of the liberal middle classes. For non metropolitan Britain especially we need a class based politics that recognizes the common interest of workers. And we need to be braver, more hardworking and more determined. It isn’t leaders but us who will change the world.


Finally and back to where I started on the mini-budget; whilst we may not have liked much in it, the mini budget was a deficit funded stimulus plan. The largest spending revolved around a two year energy price guarantee and it pushed back against the Bank of England’s technocratic balance the books approach. Hard as it is, my instinct is to defend it. As Tim Stanley noted in The Telegraph:        

“The Left can revel in the mortality of this Government, at the schadenfreude of a pro-market chancellor undone by the markets but now is not the time for socialists to drink champagne. Comrades we’re in for two years of painful austerity. And Labour having implicitly demanded it from Kwarteng, will not condemn it from Hunt – but be forced to do it when it forms the next government”

We need to gird our loins and be ready to stand up to the markets and demand that we Rebuild Britain.

Rebuilding Britains Fish Stocks and Fishing Industry

New Vessels Needed to Police Britain’s Restored Fishing Grounds

One of the most damaging consequences of Britain’s EU membership was the devastation caused by the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Fish stocks plummeted and Britain’s fishing industry was decimated whilst for five decades EU boats scooped up millions of tons of fish from Britain’s historic fishing waters.

Yet the feeble and inadequate Brexit deal for fishing meant that EU boats can continue to fish in Britain’s grounds until 2026. That should be scrapped now and EU boats excluded unless strictly licensed and heavily restricted.

When Britain finally regains full control of its fishing grounds – up to the 50% and 200 mile limits – it will need a sufficient fleet of purpose-built patrol vessels to police fishing around our shores.

The government has admitted that there are only three such ships (some reports suggested just two) which contrasts with Norway’s twelve armed vessels protecting its own fishing waters – a serious and meaningful force.

‘Rebuild Britain’ has urged the government to allocate orders for such a fleet of vessels to British shipyards a matter of urgency. This would address Rebuild Britain’s concerns both for the fishing industry and for British manufacturing.

Fishing Boats 800x533


More information on each of these can be found in our first two published pamphlets:-

Rebuilding Britain’s Fishing

Rebuilding British Manufacturing – A Strategy For Revival

Neoliberal Spartans and Chaos

Labour’s Plan to Make and Sell More British Goods – A significant step in the right direction.


Labour's plan to make and sell more British goods is a significant and welcome step.

Brexit allows us to invest in Britain without restriction. we must seze the opportunity.


Britain has ‘right’ as sovereign nation to change Brexit agreement, says TUAEU

Britain has ‘right’ as sovereign nation to
change Brexit agreement, says TUAEU

This article on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and government proposals for a Single UK Market Bill, by Doug Nichols appeared in the Morning Star in Sept 2020. Given the current impasses around Britain's negitioations and trade agreements, it is worth another visit.


BRITAIN has the right to unilaterally change the terms of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement (WA) now that it is a sovereign nation, according to Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Labour and the SNP have joined some lawyers in protest against plans to override parts of the WA. The government’s most senior lawyer, Jonathan Jones, reportedly even quit over the move to modify the agreement.

Serious concerns were raised that the new Internal Markets Bill would break international law.

The Bill, published on Wednesday, would axe requirements for new customs arrangements in Northern Ireland and would end the WA’s legitimacy in areas such as state aid.

Northern Ireland is currently meant to adhere to some EU regulations after the transition period ends on December 31, in a bid to stop a “hard border” with the Republic.

The government said that the Bill is necessary to preserve peace in Ireland if a trade deal with the EU is not struck.

TUAEU secretary Doug Nichols said: “The right of sovereign nations to withdraw from any treaty that it deems to be against its national interest is enshrined in international law.






“Such action does not make them illegal or involve bad faith; they are merely a recognition of a changed situation.”

Mr Nichols said that the government was right to amend some of the terms as it was signed some eight months ago.

“In fact, it would have been a dereliction of its duty if it didn’t,” he added.

“After all, when [Prime Minister Boris] Johnson signed that Withdrawal Agreement, the UK was a member of the EU and, by definition, not sovereign.

“Once it left the EU and became independent it has the right — in fact, the duty — to revisit treaties that were signed when the nation lacked sovereignty, when the balance of forces favoured the ‘other side.’

“Unlike the Ten Commandments, international treaties are not written in stone.

“They are often amended or revoked, otherwise international relations will still be covered by treaties signed in the 17th or 18th centuries, if not before.

“It is always the case that when a country becomes independent through peaceful means or by force of revolution, it revisits and, more often, unilaterally withdraws from the treaties that the country had signed prior to independence.”


A Plan for Jobs in UK Mufacturing


A Plan for Jobs in UK Manufacturing


Unite offers seven ‘shovel ready’ projects to save jobs, create jobs and meet our climate obligations.

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Our economy is being reshaped at an unprecedented pace – but there are also significant opportunities for UK manufacturing to genuinely build back better.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed long held fears over short-termism, failures to invest in training and skills as well as plant, tooling and technology and the off-shoring of component manufacture, leaving a dangerous lack of resilience in UK supply chains.
  • The UK’s departure from the single market and customs union demands that we rapidly establish new trading relationships at a global level, while securing investment in UK manufacturing from global corporations and government.
  • And perhaps the greatest challenge of them all – the climate crisis – requires comprehensive action without delay if we are to transition our economy in time to meet even the modest targets of the Paris

Accord, while protecting jobs and putting workers and our communities at the centre of any planning for a greener economy.

Unite’s manufacturing members recognise that there is no time to lose in recasting our economy to meet these triple challenges.

The country is gripped by an economic crisis more intense than anything encountered in living memory, as we battle to protect the health of the nation. Throughout the pandemic our shop stewards and officers have worked hard to produce the goods and products we need while providing the services we rely on, negotiating innovative arrangements to protect jobs and create safe workplaces from short-time working to repurposing our factories to produce everything – from ventilators to PPE in support of our NHS.

But much more has to be done. Our competitors have committed far greater resources and long-term support to their manufacturing industries, working in true partnership with businesses and unions in a way that remains unthinkable to our Westminster government.

Today’s advanced manufacturing jobs and our research, design and engineering excellence must sit at the heart of a renewed economy, producing what we need here in the UK while exporting high value product across the globe. We are at the cutting edge of the design and technological developments necessary to green and clean our towns and cities, seas and skies.

Working with Acuity Analysis, Unite has identified seven projects that, with government engagement, will ensure that UK manufacturing continues to play its part in our national story.

  • If government focuses immediate-term investment and support on addressing the UK’s poor quality housing and on building the battery and component factories needed to support new electric vehicles, tens of thousands of new, sustainable jobs will be created.
  • A renewal scheme for the airline industry will retain our world-class engineers, as they construct the next generation of aircraft powered by hydrogen and synthetic fuels.
  • Carbon capture from our heavy industries like steel, ceramics and construction material, is not only climate necessary but alone can create 68,000 jobs over the next 25 years.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. To arrive at these seven schemes, we asked ourselves a simple question: where should government invest in order to create jobs quickly and with the greatest social and climate benefit?

We call these ‘shovel ready’ projects our ‘Magnificent Seven’. The opportunities and return on investment that they will give this country now, and for future generations, are tremendous. These projects deserve support from all those who want our economy back on its feet, our depleted tax base assisted to grow, and hope and opportunity for working people. The full economic analysis on which we base our calculations can be read in Acuity Analysis’ extensive paper here.

2020 has been an abysmal year for jobs. So many have been lost and many will not be recovered. Workers and communities urgently need a plan for jobs. Unite’s manufacturing members have one.


By Steve Turner
Assistant general secretary, manufacturing Unite the union

Britain’s Lack of Industrial Strategy

Britain's Lack of Industrial Strategy


GMB Scotland shows that Britain’s lack of industrial strategy has been laid bare for all to see.

Read more here.

Rebuilding Requires Unity
Oppose Scottish Independence

This is a letter that was published in the Independent on the 11th May:

It is an admission of weakness when Nicola Sturgeon says she is completely focused on dealing with the pandemic yet continually raises the question of a second independence referendum.

It reflects the fear that once the pandemic is contained, Scots will find that they have more pressing matters concerning the rebuilding of the country, something that can only be realised in cooperation between all parts of the UK, rather than spending time talking about independence, which is designed to separate them from their sisters and brothers in the rest of the UK, a path that can only lead to economic stagnation and continued social deprivation.

The government is right to insist that now is not the time to talk of a new referendum and if the SNP continues to highlight its plan to force another referendum, it will alienate itself from the population and begin to lose support.

Fawzi Ibrahim