Britain was the cradle of the industrial revolution. Its manufacturing prowess sustained a unique global standing in the nineteenth century, bore it to victory in the great wars of the twentieth, was a trusty servant of its domestic needs and imperial pretensions, and an enduring source of pride. Quite suddenly, this pre-eminence has vanished. Only yesterday an industrial giant, the UK is heading for the third division.
How on earth did this happen? Where did so many of our great industries, and the companies that served them, go? What happened to all those household names and world leaders? How did industrial employment, once 40 per cent of the labour force, collapse? How were well-paid, robust and rewarding jobs in manufacturing supplanted by poorly-paid, insecure and low-grade work in services?
Stolen Heritage offers answers. Answers that should provoke concern, dismay and anger. It goes beyond denouncing the shortcomings of neoliberalism to chart its workings in practice. It tracks the life and death of Britain’s industries, vigorously contesting the orthodox view that their demise was inevitable, and it looks at prevailing political ethos, and dogma, of the time. Finally it looks beyond the immediate perils of Brexit to ways in which something of value just might be salvaged from the wreckage.