Industry collapses in UK under impact of capitalist crisis

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THE UK economy stagnated with no growth in the last quarter of 2019, according to official figures from the ONS (Office for National Statistics).

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the total wealth produced by the country – remained completely flat between October and the end of December.

The UK economy grew by a meagre 1.4% throughout the whole of 2019, the slowest rate of growth since the international banking crash in 2008.

Rob Kent-Smith from the ONS said: ‘There was no growth in the last quarter of 2019 as increases in the service and construction sectors were offset by another poor showing from manufacturing, particularly the motor industry.’

To describe the collapse of manufacturing in the UK as just ‘poor showing’ is a massive understatement.

During those three months, manufacturing output didn’t just stagnate but fell sharply by 0.8% – a fall driven by car manufacturers who virtually ceased all production at the end of the year.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers released data showing a 14.2% drop in car production in 2019.

While the car industry is being cited as the main cause of the economic collapse of manufacturing, this week it was announced that 1,400 UK companies have gone bust and are going into administration, with the building and construction industry being hard hit along with a huge number of service sector companies.

Last week the Unite union revealed that over 2,000 unionised jobs in the manufacturing industries were lost in January 2020 alone, and that the total number of redundancies in this sector will turn out to be much higher.

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner said: ‘Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the government have to get a grip and start standing up for UK Plc, well paid skilled jobs and our communities. Our manufacturing sector is desperate for a proactive industrial strategy that can give it the confidence it needs to invest and thrive. Our experience tells us that, without that, when these jobs go they do not get replaced.’

He went on: ‘This is now an emergency, but it is not an inevitability. If government has the political will and works with unions and the industry to turn the “take back control” rhetoric into reality, we can turn this around and provide the environment in which UK manufacturing can flourish once more.’

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said of the ONS report: ‘These are damning figures showing an economy punctured by a decade of decline. With production tumbling over 2019 at its worst rate since 2012, it is clear that the Tories’ combination of cruel cuts and economic mismanagement has sent the economy into freefall. The Tories lack any vision or plan for the economy, and the upcoming Budget risks another decade of disappointment.’

This belief by the trade union leadership that if only the government had the political ‘will’ and accepts their offer to ‘work’ with the Tories, then the rapid collapse of industry could be magically reversed, is a massive betrayal of the working class.

McDonnell echoes this when he ascribes the economic collapse of British capitalism to Tory ‘lack of vision’.

Both completely ignore the impact on a feeble British capitalist system of the world crisis that is driving the economies of Europe and the US into recession with the collapse of manufacturing industries throughout the world.

The fact is that the trade union leaders have refused to fight a single factory or plant closure. Instead they confine themselves to worthless appeals for the Tories to help them out, and offers to collaborate with them to manage the inevitable collapse and mass unemployment that will follow.

These leaders who refuse to fight must be removed and replaced with a new leadership in the unions that will mobilise the strength of the working class in a general strike to bring down the Tory government and go forward to a workers government that will nationalise all major industries, along with the banks, and place them under the management of the working class as part of a planned socialist economy.

Only socialist revolution can defend the working class from the economic crash of bankrupt British capitalism.