Press Watch 23/10/19

Scarlet Standard will continue to highlight the underlying issues which often bubble along just under the surface of Media headlines, but which tell us more about the condition of Britain.

Today the Times headline says much about the state of the real economy: ‘‘Manufacturers brace for sharp collapse in exports’.

The owners of many factories now expect their exports to collapse next year as pessimism grips the manufacturing sector. Confidence among manufacturers about exports has fallen more steeply than at any time since 2001, according to an industrial trends survey conducted by the CBI for the three months to October.

Jobs fell at the fastest rate since 2010 and investment intentions were at their most negative since the financial crisis.

It may be that the Conservative Party long ago gave up any real concern about the manufacturing sector of our economy. After all their funding now comes primarily from the service sector and from Finance Capital.

But it was over-dependence on finance markets that led to the crash of 2008 and it is self evidently the case that a strong and healthy manufacturing base ought to be a central objective of any rational economic strategy. Manufacturing can harness the creativity and skills of hard-working Britons, give long term high-quality jobs and provide long term permanent employment.

And those skills ought to be placed at both a renaissance of engineering, research and design aimed at pioneering, creating and then sustaining a climate-friendly society. There could be no more noble cause at a time when our planet is threatened by the challenge of climate change and its related consequences.

Finance capital will never be deployed in such long term strategic objectives. The finance “masters of the universe” think primarily in the short term, they turn a fast buck and get out quickly. It will take a determined government, prepared to intervene in the markets, and ready to deploy significant resources in the interests of the common good to move our economy in a new direction.

It would not be easy to achieve this. But it is the right thing to do.

In the meantime, we see what happens to short-termism in this morning’s papers as they mark the demise of the fracking industry.

The Times reports that abandoned fracking sites could become a permanent blot on the landscape because of a weakness in decommissioning rules. The report is based on an analysis by the independent public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office. The government had apparently given false assurances that the Environment Agency would be able to pursue fracking companies and landowners for the costs of restoring sites.

The NAO report also questions the government’s claims that fracking will yield economic benefits and be consistent with Britain’s climate targets. And, as we know, the industry has achieved little, other than to increase significantly the number of seismic events in the UK.

But you can always rely on the Telegraph turn a story into its opposite.

Here is their take: ‘Fracking protest costs £13m’ If it wasn’t so serious, you would have to laugh!

Press Watch is a look at the day's news by Labour MPs.

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