Dear Editor, Excellent news in last week’s Post that a Warwickshire firm, UK Gear, has developed a 1000-mile running shoe that has been endorsed by the British Army. So congratulations to them. This kind of thing is just what we need if the country is to power out of recession. Or is it?
Sadly, I note the shoes are made in Vietnam and thus, presumably, shipped half way round the world before our squaddies can get into their stride. I have to ask is it really impossible to manufacture them in this country?
We still do produce shoes, usually rather more upmarket than the usual imports, so where innovation and quality coincide, such as, for example, in the UK Gear product, it ought to be possible to be competitive with home manufacture.
Unless we as a country pursue a policy of import substitution (not, I hasten to add, through tarriffs), we cannot hope to provide all the jobs needed to keep employment levels down.
I suppose the answer lies in the inability to raise finance for anything that smacks of making something coupled with all the legislation and taxation businesses have to comply with and fund.
I doubt a Vietnam factory is troubled in the same way and I wouldn’t mind betting health and safety issues don’t rank that high either.
But no matter we give them the work and let too many of our factories fall to rack and ruin and then fund through benefits, paid by taxation, those thrown out of a job.
We need to solve this conundrum and fast, and we can begin by asking what we must do to make the everyday things we used to make.
Bring back Michael Heseltine’s enterprise zones?