Disastrous results of abandoning the UK’s textile industry

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From: John K Lund, Old Kilmore Road, Moira, County Armagh.

With reference to the Bangladesh clothing factory disaster, it is ironic to watch the previously over-hyped celebrities of the fashion industry agonising over this tragedy.

We originally had a very successful textile and clothing industry which was one of our great export earners. Over my life span (I am 72) – and in fact since the end of the First World War – it has been government policy to let the developing British Empire and now Commonwealth countries take our textile industry by selling them new British manufactured textile machinery, whilst not allowing GB companies the ability to diversify and re-equip in the post war years, with the notable exception of Northern Ireland.

The foreign currency derived from these machinery exports was used to pay off American war loans. The wartime government even sold Canadian Celanese to pay for arms.

Following the Second World War, the motor industry was featherbedded and the coal industry nationalised along with all power supplies including GPO Telephones.

The textile industry was thrown to the wolves in an act of misguided state-controlled expediency.

The Lancashire cotton industry was gradually reduced from the end of the First World War and this continued into the 1980s. The wool textile industry in all its facets: worsted, woollen, hosiery, carpet, and industrial textiles were then run down until a shadow of it remains in the present day.

All we are left with is a small specialist wool textile industry, which continues to be successful in a much reduced way.

We have one worsted spinner, two substantial commission weaving plants, a handful of furnishing fabric manufacturers, two commission dyeing and finishing plants and a few vertical woollen spinners and manufacturers. The Northern Ireland linen industry is virtually a small weaver and a small traditional finisher.

Meanwhile, until their closures, the subsidised pit and motor manufacturers’ car parks were filled with cheap foreign cars and the clothing multiples imported Third World, near slave labour-produced, clothing and textiles.

In fairness to the Far Eastern textile skills, the products are now discernibly better than the low quality products forced on the UK manufacturers by an avaricious retail sector.

They demanded prostitution of quality in their efforts to drive down prices and thus destroyed an industry.

Meanwhile our civil servants, politicians of all hues, bankers and that temple of mammon the City of London misguidedly thought that this would speed up the development of their so called panaceas the high-tech industries. This was regardless of the educational inabilities of the workforce.

Unemployment costs would be covered by the financial and new service industries. This, thanks to Gordon Brown and the FSA, who failed to protect the nation from the bankers, has failed to work miserably.

We as a nation need to develop and encourage wholeheartedly the re-establishment of high quality niche product manufacturing in this kingdom. We have seen the disastrous results of relying on too many overseas baskets.