The antecedents certainly aren’t good, the last time there was a big campaign supporting home-grown industry in the UK was back in the 1960s.
Dr Johnson called patriotism “the last refuge of a scoundrel” and the 1960s ‘I’m backing Britain’ campaign complete with Union Jacks and T-shirts made in Portugal was hijacked by one of the biggest scoundrels of them all, Robert Maxwell MP.
Maxwell, who had somehow or other managed to get himself elected for Labour, later came a printing magnate and then the owner of the Daily Mirror, in which role he ripped off the company’s pension fund to support his megalomaniac corporate ambitions before he fell off his yacht and drowned.
But, undeterred, cooking stove maker Stoves and Labour MP Shaun Woodward are backing a new ‘Made in Britain’ campaign that, among other things, seeks to highlight how few products are actually made in Britain as opposed to owned by British companies.
Among these are Dyson appliances (manufactured in Malaysia) and HP (‘house of parliament’) sauce, made in the Netherlands.
Whatever one’s doubts, the campaign is certainly timely as the coalition government is desperately hoping that British manufactures will drive the economy as it cuts backs sharply on public expenditure.
But in the latter years of the last Labour administration (in which Woodward was a junior member) manufacturing slipped back to just 11 per cent or so of the economy as Gordon Brown and his chums came to rely on bankers and the service sector for their tax revenues.
Still, every little helps.