Letter: Restored faith in manufacturing

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article ('A manufacturing culture', 4 March) pointed towards policies that are needed to put the UK back on the road to recovery. It is more than a matter of restoring confidence. Our economic problems are deep- seated but have been brought to crisis point by government mismanagement and inactivity.

Quite simply, we are lagging further and further behind the rest of the industrialised world. Since 1979, the gap between the UK's economic output and the rest of the industrialised world has grown to a massive pounds 250bn.

The fact that more than 3 million people have been consigned to the waste and frustration of life on the dole is both a national scandal and international humiliation. As Gordon Brown, the shadow chancellor, has repeatedly made clear, bridging this international deficit can be achieved only by tackling the investment gaps that hinder the UK's prospects - in manufacturing, in skills training and in the regions.

In two weeks' time, Norman Lamont, the Chancellor, can demonstrate that he is ambitious for Britain and its people to succeed. On 16 March he can follow Labour's lead and declare a budget for jobs.

Yours sincerely,

ALAN MILBURN

MP for Darlington (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

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