The terrible news from Redcar of the closing of the steel plant down there, with the loss of 1700 jobs directly and many more additional supply jobs, was a thoroughly depressing reminder of the many large factory closures in the North East.
Manufacturing accounts for a smaller and smaller amount of our GDP but still accounts for a lot of exports. A lot of people say that if we don't make things our economy is built on foundations of sand. I have to say I agree. Unfortunately the UK, one of the most centralised countries in the western world, is run for the benefit of the South East and London, where there is a much lower incidence of manufacturing than in the North East. The financial sector is a big employer there but up here it is mainly just call centre jobs. We urgently need to push for a more northern economic strategy that puts manufacturing business creation and support at the forefront of our economy. Germany and France have overtaken us in terms of national wealth and the UK will continue its slide down the economic prosperity table without a strong manufacturing sector.