Len McCluskey: We must link arms to protect industry that is vital to Britain's prosperity

If the banks won't lend, go round them. Force the banks we own to support this sector

Britain needs manufacturing. For every one job the sector creates, four more bloom in supporting sectors.

A quick trip through any one of our great cities reminds us of the wealth that industry brought to this nation in the last and previous century. A quick flick through the headlines today reminds us of the wealth that the scandal-battered banking industry creates but never shares. Our economy needs to be rebalanced.

When I travel the country, I meet business leaders. The one thing that unites them is anguish over the neglect of the promise of manufacturing – the failure to support kids through school to become the mathematicians, scientists, engineers of tomorrow.

One industry leader, based at BMW, contrasted – in frustration – how Germany nourishes new talent with the absence of support for it in the UK.

The educational maintenance allowance must be reinstated because it tells kids who would thrive in high-skills vocational training that learning is valued.

Another CEO told me that the day the Coalition Government announced that the regional development agencies were going, there was a whoop of joy. Not here in Britain but in Frankfurt, where they could celebrate the collapse of big hitters fighting to bring industry to the UK.

Enterprise zones are simply no substitute for co-ordinated intervention. How could Sandwich ever hope to replace lost Pfizer jobs fighting its corner against big regions and governments working together across the rest of Europe? The support for our regions is simply inadequate. This is neglect.

Whether it is Plan A or Plan B, we urgently need a strategy for growing our economy. Vince Cable has bemoaned the absence of one. We see in the unemployment figures, where in the North-east and North-west joblessness is growing as the public sector shrinks, there is no private sector coming through to provide new jobs.

That is why we need a minister for manufacturing, someone with clout at the Cabinet table, someone cutting their way through the indifference to reassure the sector that we are serious about support. Was such a position in place now, we would not be seeing Coryton asset-stripped, a coastal community lost, skilled workers languish, while across the Channel the French government bails in with support to save their counterparts.

Manufacturing degree courses, with a university devoted to finding school talent and bringing it through, would send the clear signal that this is the nation to set up business, that we value talent.

A national investment bank charged with ensuring that manufacturers of all sizes got the financial support they are crying out for would end the stagnation blighting the sector. Some £754bn of resources is sitting in the big banks' accounts. This is money not spent on jobs, training and investment because business is scared to because consumers are scared – or cannot afford – to spend.

If the banks won't lend, won't play their part in giving this country its confidence back, go round them. Force the banks we own to support this sector.

Yes, our motor industry is thriving. As GM proved at Ellesmere Port, and JLR in the Midlands too, the industry has recognised the benefits of in-country componentry too, not having a supply chain that is disjointed across the globe. This means jobs. Praise must go to the Government for the part they played in securing this future, battling for British industry. So why was there no support for Bombardier or BAE and today Coryton?

We are still a proud manufacturing nation today. It is still the best hope we have of creating jobs in the numbers we need. It is still the best way of spreading wealth from the boardroom to communities. We now need to link arms to keep the sector thriving. And we need to do it now.

Len McCluskey is the general secretary of the union Unite

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone