England maintains more of a manufacturing orientation after 1980?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by rf_31, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. rf_31 Member

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    Is there a POD where Thatcher still undertakes reforms but decides that England's economy would depend less on the finance industry and City of London, like maybe something closer to the German economic model?
     
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  2. GlobalHumanism Well-known and unliked member

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    Hard to do, of not impossible without completely remaking the trade union lead labor relations order from scratch - something West Germany had the luxury of doing after 1945
     
  3. Devvy Idiot. Donor

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    It’s difficult - labour unions were militant and I would say eager to try to press their power on politics. However, workforce efficiency was low compared to Germany especially, which leads to imports being advantageous.

    And to be nit picky - I assume you mean Britain / UK’s economy, not just England? Scotland and Wales lost their heavy industry as well during this period.
     
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  4. Escape Zeppelin Well-Known Member

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    Keep shipping costs from Asia high or Asia in general so unstable it doesn't get foreign manufacturing investment which makes domestic British manufacturing much more profitable.
     
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  5. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Mao goes bonkers and makes a full-scale nuclear attack on Japan. In response, USSR and US jointly nuke China. By stroke of good luck a nuclear winter does not happen.
     
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  6. Scientist Shan Well-Known Member

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    As with many things regarding Thatcher the reality is rather different to the common assumption.

    Manufacturing output increased while Thatcher was PM:

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/output/timeseries/k22a/diop

    Now perhaps it might have done so even more but the 1980 recession hit British manufacturing very hard - this could possibly have been reduced by lower interest and exchange rates and / or more government subsidies.

    But there was always going to be a trend away from low skilled manufacturing in Britain, as in other western countries, as globalisation grew after 1980.
     
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  7. yulzari Well-Known Member

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    I think that you mean Britain. England is only one part of the country. The only part not allowed to have it's own parliament.
     
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  8. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

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    Well there are certain things a government could do such as varying the tax levels for manufacturing business, allowing the cost of new machinery to be reclaimed against tax to encourage modernisation etc. Part of Germany's success—and globally Germany is freakishly successful in that, IIRC, it's outside the norm—was its system of industrial collaboration whilst the UK had developed a more confrontational one.

    I can remember reading a paper which argued that one of the problems the UK faced was the pound being overvalued, North Sea oil and gas turning it into something of a petro-currency. If that's true then you need to find some way of keeping the value of sterling down, perhaps along the lines of something similar to what the Swiss did for a while.


    Exactly. Yes large numbers of people left the sector but that's because it was becoming more efficient by being able to produce more with fewer man hours.


    Realistically the move towards more mechanisation and automation should have started happening in the 1970s but neither party—Conservative or Labour—were brave enough to grasp the nettle when in power.
     
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  9. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if an earlier and slightly more radical "Sandystorm" would help? In essence, cutting down defense spending to ca. 5% GDP already in 1950's. UK's defense spending was roughly 1/3 to 1/4 of public spending so the effect is not minimal. Much of the UK's R&D was directed towards military endeavours, and while these created spinoffs, spending on civilian R&D or just lower taxation might have created better economical results and would have forced some rearrangements in the manufacturing sector earlier. In 1950's the problems might be easier to solve due to many reasons than in 1970's and 1980's.

    Now, how to achieve this is an entirely different can of worms. Even earlier decolonization? Earlier succesful nuclear weapon mass production to ensure defense through deterrence?

    Here's a quote from 1957 paper, which I present without knowledge upon accuracy of the statements. Unemployment seems to have been very low before the Oil Crisis.

    (b) At present about a quarter of the nation's graduate scientists and engineers, and about 7 per cent, of the working population, are engaged on defence. The release of some proportion of these would clearly benefit the national economy.

    http://filestore.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pdfs/small/cab-129-86-c-57-69-19.pdf
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 2:16 PM
  10. Anderman Donor

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    That is not german only idea all mayor economies have something like that

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depreciation#Tax_depreciation

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_allowance
     
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  11. Ashley Pomeroy Member

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    My hunch is that in the absence of defence jobs, those people would have gone abroad, probably to the United States. Absent the defence industry Britain in the 1960s didn't have much to offer nuclear physicists, aviation engineers, and pure mathematicians; Rolls-Royce, Ferranti, Plessey, Marconi etc only had so much civilian work to go around.

    With manufacturing industry undercut by the far east and high technology industries having to compete with the United States, what did Britain have to offer bright graduates in non-medical fields? What does it have to offer today?
     
  12. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

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    Apologies I really should have started a new paragraph or emphasised the break after the 'etc.', I was using the tax examples as general ones that lot of countries do and the industrial collaboration part as specific to Germany.
     
  13. Anderman Donor

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    Ah ok now i see it too.
     
  14. Barry Bull Donor

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    The move of manufacturing from developed countries to developing countries in Asia started before China opened up in early 1980s. Nuking China would not stop that.
     
  15. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Um, maybe the manufacturing industry would have been better off with more engineers and scientists doing research on how to make better Blue Circle concrete instead of a Blue Circle radar? Or might have formed their own firms encouraged by much lower taxation? Or might have lured American firms to establish research and manufacturing units in UK?
     
  16. rossw Member

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    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and English regions turned down devolution, it wasn't denied
     
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  17. fasquardon Cosmonaut

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    If you look at textbooks and papers written before Thatcher came to power, you'll see that the trend was set long before Thatcher came in. Indeed, Thatcher's policies were a response to this long, slow decline - she thought that pulling the life support plug would free up resources for industries that had more long term viability.

    The key decision was made in the late 40s, when Britain was trying to work out the best way to maintain her power - the decision was that what was needed was to control the oil of the Middle East and to maintain London as the world's primary financial hub. Unfortunately, the US shoved the British aside in the Middle East and the policies required to maintain the power of London's financial firms were directly harmful to Britain's industrial firms. To meaningfully change British industrial trajectory you need to change one or the other of those things.

    Either Britain decides that oil and industry are the keys to power post WW2 or Britain actually succeeds in keeping control of the Persian Gulf (thus fuelling her economy with cheap oil). Since I can't see any plausible reason why the US would not seek to displace the UK in the Middle East and I can't think of any reason why they wouldn't succeed if they wanted to, likely that means that Britain's real choice after 1945 was "industries or banks". But perhaps there are ways to do it that I've not thought of.

    fasquardon
     
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  18. Thomas1195 Well-Known Member

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    Or make better cars or computers? Or help re-equip British factories with more modern machinery? Plenty of things to do.

    Defense projects could have been useful if the government managed to enable their outputs to spill over to the civilian sectors. But the Brits seemed to fail to do so.

    Elect the Liberals during the 1920s-1930s. I mean, they introduced the industrial collaboration concept from as early as 1918. And their infrastructure and public work programs were introduced at the right time for Britain, the early-1920s recession, plus the Great Depression (IOTL, austerity became Britain's official policy).
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 3:42 AM
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  19. Thomas1195 Well-Known Member

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    Even the 1940s was already quite late.
     
  20. Scientist Shan Well-Known Member

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    Devolution of powers to England is not the same as devolution of much more minor powers to parts of England.