In the dog days of its term in office the British Labour government appears to have rediscovered the economic value of manufacturing – its romance with the financial sector having turned very sour.
Unfortunately being forced to bail out various financial institutions from their own reckless and feckless behavior has left the British government with little wriggle room for bolstering manufacturing industry.
In the defense sector – one of the UK's few remaining “traditional” manufacturing bases – the domestic outlook is less than rosy, with widely anticipated cuts in the procurement budget anticipated as part of wider austerity measures.
Research and Development funding is also being whittled away – even at the same time as senior government ministers flag its importance. Peter Mandelson, the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills said recently "Returning the UK to growth must be our first priority. To do this we will maintain an environment that encourages enterprise and accelerates our support for science, R&D and skills."
There will be an understandable temptation on the part of whichever party is elected – elections will be held no later than mid-2010 - to look at defense expenditure as an area for savings. However significant cuts will have far-reaching military and industrial implications that any government would do well to heed.
Picture Credit Eurofighter