This week has seen remarkable changes to US Federal Government policies heralded in the months leading up to the US Election by Donald Trump intent on reversing America's industrial decline. Summoning the chief executives of the US car industry to the White House it was made clear to them that the days of exporting jobs to cheap labour markets and importing their manufactured goods into the US without penalising tariffs is over. As the Prime Minister and new President confer on Friday - no doubt the same message will be conveyed to the UK Government as the most practical step it will be able to take once this country shakes off the shackles of the EU and 'single market' (if not before).
Britain's hollowed out manufacturing sector is a mirror image of America's own industrial heartland pitilessly portrayed innumerable times by our media in their reporting on the condition of the US economy and social deprivation. It is one thing to ogle the sights of Manhattan, lounge on the beaches of Florida and do the tourist thing in California but it is an entirely different set of images traversing the 'real' America once you divert away from coastal conurbations and leisure destinations.
We have our Burnleys, Oldhams, Birkenheads and Rotherhams by the basketful; the US has its rustbelt and countless despondent communities throughout much of the nation. Whilst the media and political focus is forever fixated on money and power - the actuality of life is a totally different perspective away from Washington, New York, Westminster and the Home Counties. A belated and tacit acknowledgement of Britain's condition is the recent label ' Northern Powerhouse' taking on a momentum of its own in this country's political agenda. It has a long way to run to make up for decades of Westminster's tilt towards Brussels and the City of London's casino gaming set up. Ironically Blackpool had little chance of securing a 'Super Casino' licence a decade back - it was already alive and thriving in the capital.
Only when Britain is free of its entanglement with the EU will this government, indeed any UK government, find itself free and able to emulate the immediacy of business led strategies. These should and will insist on public money being expended on British workers, British manufactured goods and new infrastructure in roads, rail, energy, housing and public benefit. The sad sight of foreign built vehicles: trains, trucks, buses, coaches, ambulances, police cars - all purchased with UK taxpayer's money - flooding in from the continent - will immediately end if the political will is there to insist on it. Somehow I have doubts this will happen in the face of lobbying and those hidden (and not so hidden) influences in London. These conspire to thwart the biggest exercise in democracy England has experienced since that far-off gathering at Runnymede.
Already we see obfuscation and filtering tactics being applied in Parliament through weak willed politicians of all persuasions. I can understand the determination of Scotland to fight its own corner for the people of that part of the UK; no less than Wales and Northern Ireland. This is entirely understandable and to be applauded. However the big picture - the 'real politik' in 2017 going forward is desire by much of the UK to see (and feel) actual change in the 'business as usual' style of Westminster. Just as Donald Trump tapped into the wellspring of frustration and outright anger by 'middle America' seeing their future and their children's future being sold off by hidden interests hand in hand with a permanent government elite. We have had the same for far too long in the UK. Just look around Blackpool today and witness their results. Its the same up and down the country, with exception of course of the capital and its outreaches. All change and out with the deadwood.
The Cabinet Meeting this week in Warrington - and not Manchester; (my apologies for asserting the UK Government assembled in that great city of the north in my previous blog), is a token gesture but a significant one if after March Downing Street pursues a not dissimilar course to the forthright pronouncements and actions of the new US Administration. Common cause can be readily found between our two nations as opposed to the mealy mouthed whining emanation from the talking shop in Strasbourg and totally unelected EU bureaucracies sprawling through the streets of Brussels. Predictions from appointees to the new US Administration are already voicing their views that the EU overreached its ambitions and the Euro is a flawed currency doomed to failure within two years. There may not even be an EU to negotiate a final Brexit agreement with in two year's time - what a shame.
Altoona, PA - now another post-industrial hangover in the rust belt of the US. Former times when jobs were still readily available and the factories hummed sees one of the town's 'modern' cars at the end of the line. Tangerine and white colours - Blackpool FC influence at work. Image : John Woodman Archive