Despite all the unwarranted self-satisfaction expressed by politicians about the undoubted and excellent success of companies like JLR and BMW/Mini, the overall picture for British manufacturing provides little cause for celebration.
Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that total production output is estimated to have decreased by 0.5% in February 2016 compared with the same month a year ago, the largest fall since August 2013. In the 3 months to February 2016, production and manufacturing were 10.6% and 6.8% respectively below their figures reached in the pre-downturn GDP peak in Q1 of 2008.
We tend to associate government involvement in manufacture with bail-outs of failing companies, but there have been more positive examples, like the excellent work that was done by the Design Council until it was eviscerated by Thatcher in the 1980s. If we are serious about re-balancing the economy in the UK, and reducing our dependency on services, we need more organisations that can promote manufacture, good design and help develop profitable 21st century industries.