OUR SERVICE ECONOMY
Many people believe our economy is weak because we don’t make things anymore, but this is not strictly true. We pay our way by selling our inventiveness, our ideas, especially abroad. The factories, the ordinary production lines churning out endless numbers of assembled product may have moved abroad, but in many cases, our manufacturing skill remains with us, and we still gain from that economically.
Although we don’t necessarily sell large volumes of manufactured product abroad, we still gain enormous value-added by selling our intellectual property. When other countries churn out tangible products, such as electronics from the Far East, in true mass production redolent of the early 20th century, or raw materials, such as oil and gas from the Middle East, or agricultural produce from Spain for example, our industries sell brainpower, such as leading-edge pharmaceuticals and technology, or film-making.
In the period after the end of the Second World War, it is true that manufacturing as a proportion of Britain’s economic activity declined (from around 46% in the 1950s, to just 12% today), and services of one kind or another increased to around 78%. It is equally true that our manufactured goods are approaching 30% more than they were a few decades ago, simply because of another British skill: manufacturing technology.