One Nation Industrial Strategy and Digital Enterprise

16th November, 2012 2:38 pm

By Ian Wright MP

One Nation politics have to have at their very heart an economy in which everybody has a stake and in which wealth and prosperity is fairly shared.  An economy which favours one social group over the rest, with huge levels of inequality, or which relies on one sector of the economy over all others, resulting in huge distortions and vulnerabilities, cannot be an effective or fair way of doing things. Equally, it acts as a huge drag on our potential competiveness with the rest of the world; if you don’t ensure that every citizen can play his or her part, or that every region and nation in the UK is maximising its economic potential, by its very definition you are not as a nation being as efficient or as productive as you could be.

I see this every week when I return back to my constituency in the North East. Hartlepool and the surrounding area has huge potential: we in the North East can be at the very vanguard of modern-day manufacturing and engineering, but we also have the highest level of youth unemployment in the country, with one in four young men in my constituency not in employment, education or training. Why is there such a mismatch? Why don’t we have a better balance between and within regions?  A One Nation industrial strategy has to address the growing gulf of economic performance between regions and localities, a gulf which is widening as a result of the recession and the government’s policies – despite ministers’ empty rhetoric on rebalancing.

But One Nation doesn’t mean one size fits all. I agree with the CBI when it stated in its recent report that people should stop trying to level up or level down London with the rest of the country or vice versa. We should simply try to maximise the economic potential in all areas. I also can vouch for Lord Heseltine when he says that the message he keeps hearing is that the UK does not have a strategy for growth and wealth creation – that’s what businesses keep telling me too. Government should be working with businesses to identify those sectors where we have comparative advantage and where we can maximise those advantages in the global marketplace in the next few decades.

We have a range of exciting and innovative sectors – automotive, aerospace, design and technology – in which we could play a leading role. But underpinning much of this new manufacturing will be a revolution the likes of which we have not seen before. For centuries before the Industrial Revolution, products were made as a bespoke one-off, for specific use and which in all likelihood could not be mass produced, and were expensive.  Industrialisation meant the production of many tens of thousands of products which through economies of scale were cheap to make per item but not personalised in any area – the old “you can have any colour car as long as it is black” adage.

But improvements in technology mean that additive, or 3D, printing can produce highly individualised products at a relatively cheap price. You fancy a particular designed pen? Additive manufacturing will be able to produce at relatively little cost. You like the design of a teapot? No problem. But it won’t just be the design of mundane and simple ideas: in 20 years’ time, we could be seeing the first engine designed and built in this way.

But the most exciting thing is the way in which additive printing will democratise the manufacturing process. Ten years ago the price of a 3D printer was about $150,000; now you can pick one up for less than $20,000. In another decade they will be as cheap as an iPad.  This widening of design and manufacturing, without the need for eye-watering levels of capital investment will unleash a level of innovation that we have not seen. Digitally-minded kids will experiment and innovate and in doing so create new firms and business models which will power forward wealth creation for the UK in the next century.

There is always a danger in trying to predict the future. If it were so easy, we would probably all be driving flying cars and living on the moon. But there is something important and significant in what is happening which Labour is tapping in to as the party of aspiration and innovation. We as a party want to encourage the manufacturing innovators of the future. A One Nation industrial strategy shouldn’t necessarily be picking the specific winners of the future. It should, however, be setting a strategic direction, fostering a new culture of partnership and collaboration and joining up schools, colleges and businesses to ensure that kids have the opportunities in computer programming and design, and other skills, which could launch a thousand new enterprises.

What we have been traditionally good at in this country is innovation – thinking of new ways of doing business or improving processes that make life easier. If we are to pay our way in the world in the 21st century a One Nation strategy needs to encourage and incentivise that sense of innovation even more.  Entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital age aren’t nice to have add ons – they should be at the centrepiece of any government’s industrial policy.

Iain Wright is MP for Hartlepool and Shadow Minister for Competiveness and Enterprise

This piece forms part of Jon Cruddas’s Guest Edit of LabourList

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]

  • Dave Postles

    The need is to break the chains to Microsoft and advance OpenSource in this country, including Linux and Unix OSs.
    [Linux Mint desktop with cairo dock]

    • Serbitar

      Mint is nice for a desktop but I still prefer Ubuntu on my laptop.

      • Dave Postles

        Ubuntu is good. I’ve nothing against the Unity desktop – quite like it. The solidity of the *buntus is illustrated by the fact that the French Gendarmerie moved to Ubuntu a few years back.

  • Pingback: One Hundred and Ten One Nation propositions | Hopi Sen()

Latest

  • Featured News Unite claims victory over tipping scandal – but demands new laws

    Unite claims victory over tipping scandal – but demands new laws

    Unite has demanded tough new laws to ensure that restaurant staff receive the entirety of customers’ tips. Britain’s biggest trade union spoke out after Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, published a consultation triggered by the scandal of big dining firms taking a proportion of gratuities left for workers. In what Unite has called a “massive, rightful victory” for working people, Javid concluded that restaurant companies must not widely take a percentage of staff taps.  The Business Secretary has proposed tougher […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Scotland Video Watch: “We can do things differently” – Kezia Dugdale’s latest election video

    Watch: “We can do things differently” – Kezia Dugdale’s latest election video

    Kezia Dugdale has released a new video talking about how the Scottish Labour is changing to meet new challenges of Scottish politics and her time as leader of the party. Watch it here:  

    Read more →
  • Featured News McCluskey: MPs are setting “false traps” to undermine Corbyn

    McCluskey: MPs are setting “false traps” to undermine Corbyn

    Len McCluskey has accused some Labour MPs of setting “stupid traps” to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party before crucial local elections this week. The Unite General Secretary named backbenchers Michael Dugher, Liz Kendall, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin as MPs as “nothing short of treacherous” for trying to attack Corbyn in any way they can in an interview with The Guardian. McCluskey said Dugher, and Kendall, who unsuccessfully stood for leader over the summer, had set false expectations […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News “We stand against racism in any form” – Corbyn’s speech at the May Day rally

    “We stand against racism in any form” – Corbyn’s speech at the May Day rally

    This an extract from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the annual May Day rally in London yesterday. “We have to stand up against racism in any form whatsoever in our society. We have stood in this green in Trafalgar Square and in many other places against apartheid South Africa. Eventually apartheid South Africa was defeated. “We stood in solidarity with […] the USA fighting for civil rights in the 1960s and 1970s. We stand in solidarity now against the growth of the […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Video Watch: Vote Labour on Thursday – Jeremy Corbyn’s latest election broadcast

    Watch: Vote Labour on Thursday – Jeremy Corbyn’s latest election broadcast

    Jeremy Corbyn has released a new video encouraging the public to vote Labour in local elections on Thursday. He highlights tax avoidance, cuts to public services, the Conservatives’ missed goals on the economy to encourage people to stand up against the Tories. Watch it here: Be the first to watch our election broadcast. Stand up & send the Conservatives a message on Thursday – vote Labourhttps://t.co/sfzvXQUQeo — Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) May 2, 2016  

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit