Manufacturing’s decline – was Labour to blame?

arrowdown300Following assertions this month by both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor that it was the Labour Party that was responsible for bringing UK manufacturing to its knees, the website has carried out a forensic examination of the data to test the contention for accuracy (

At Prime Minister’s Questions last week, David Cameron claimed that Labour had overseen “the fastest decline in British manufacturing in British history” While during Treasury Questions, George Osborne said the Labour Government had presided over the “decimation” of the manufacturing industry.

Historical data puts things in a different perspective when the rise of manufacturing in Asia and the growth of other sectors like financial services are taken into account, the fact check concludes.

The fullfact analysis concedes that the actual value of manufacturing went up during the previous two Conservative stints in office and down under Labour’s, but as a share of the total UK economy, which now stands at just 11%, has been in constant decline.

It goes on: “The UK’s international standing hasn’t changed a great deal in terms of the actual value of stuff we manufacture, the transformation lies in the way our economy is balanced, which in recent years has seen sectors such as financial services and government health and education soar at the expense of manufacturing. Whether this is set to continue or not remains to be seen, but given the rising power of economies abroad, it might not be entirely the Government’s decision.”

This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2012


About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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