U.K. Socialists Tap Trump's Industrial Strategy to Protect Jobs

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s main opposition Labour Party and its trade union backers may have led protests against President Donald Trump when he visited Britain in July, but they’re not shy about adopting one of his signature ideas.

Trump’s program to back U.S. manufacturing is exactly what Britain should have been doing to protect jobs, according to Labour’s shadow secretary for business, Rebecca Long-Bailey.

“Whilst you might not agree with much of what Donald Trump says, he’s trying to champion quite a radical manufacturing program in the U.S.,” Long-Bailey said, referring to the president’s “Made in America” policy to boost American companies and focus government procurement on domestic suppliers. “These are things that Britain should have been doing in the last six, seven years.”

Britain has been left behind while the U.S., German and Chinese governments have intervened to promote manufacturing, and ministers should step in to “provide a fertile business environment,” Long-Bailey said late Tuesday at a side meeting at the Trades Union Congress in Manchester, northern England.

Labour launched its “Build it in Britain” campaign in the summer, mirroring Trump’s drive. The party is calling for more investment in infrastructure, training, research and development to help rebuild British manufacturing after it was sidelined by previous administrations, Long-Bailey said.


“We’ll harness the 200 million pounds a year the government spends to promote responsible businesses and will take action to reverse the offshoring seen in recent decades by bringing supply chains and manufacturing and good jobs back to the U.K.,” she said.

She criticized Prime Minister Theresa May’s government for allowing overseas companies to bid on a 1 billion pound ($1.3 billion) contract to build support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Labour has said that giving the work to a British company would support 6,500 jobs.

The government should take into account the creation of well-paid employment and the taxes paid by workers when it awards contracts, Long-Bailey said. “You have to get the best value, but you also have to look at the wider economic impact,” she said.

The shift to a more interventionist economic policy is a key part of the socialist revival in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, who became leader in 2015. But it’s safe to say there aren’t many other areas of policy where it agrees with Trump.

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