White Heat

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White Heat The Fourth Industrial Revolution 

White Heat The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

White Heat. The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

On the 1st October 1963, Harold Wilson delivered a speech to the Labour Party conference in Scarborough outlining Labour’s plan for science.  The speech covered the increasing impact of automation on British industry, the effects that mechanisation was having on employment, and outlined strategies that a Socialist government could take to ensure that the white heat of technology benefited all citizens.

In all our plans for the future, we are re-defining and we are re-stating our Socialism in terms of the scientific revolution. But that revolution cannot become a reality unless we are prepared to make far-reaching changes in economic and social attitudes which permeate our whole system of society.
The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated methods on either side of industry.

The need for a highly skilled workforce dominated Wilson’s programme of action: produce more scientists, retain more scientists and make better use of our scientists. In 1963, he highlighted that Russia was “training 10 to 11 times as many scientists and technologists”. Today many of our global competitor countries are recognising the importance of research, innovation, and skills to their citizens and economies – and are investing accordingly.

And while it’s still true that we produce far fewer graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) than our international competitors, it’s not just the numbers that matter. In 2011, 41% of degrees awarded in China were in science and engineering, compared to just 22% in the UK. Although some question the quality of this boom in Chinese STEM graduates; a 2005 McKinsey report found that just 10% of Chinese engineers are educated to a “global standard”. But you can bet that our 22% will beat the odds and punch above their weight on the global scientific stage, despite being outnumbered and increasingly outgunned in investment. The quality of our graduates remains high and our culture of innovation runs very deep indeed. It’s an edge we need to keep fighting to maintain.

Of course it’s not just universities that will supply us with the highly skilled workers we need. Wilson said, “there is another thing we have got to do in the field of higher education, and this is to put an end to snobbery”. We must recognise and promote the value of alternative pathways to careers in STEM such as the vital role of further education in addressing the urgent shortage of technicians. Jeremy Corbyn has talked about the need to fix these pathways and it has become increasingly clear that both higher and further education need to work together to make that a reality.

Many of the science events will focus on the life sciences – a sector in which we are a world leader. We will hear from medical research charities about the need to ensure research is at the heart of the NHS and from industry about the barriers they face in trying to collaborate with our research base. These collaborations drive innovation and we must enable their success with nimble decision-making and funding processes.
We must see investment in medical research and the staff to maintain our NHS more Doctors more nurses and public funded auxiliary support companies to provide the backup support from meals to beds.

Wilson’s speech captures the excitement and inherent possibility of science, “we are living at a time of such rapid scientific change that our children are accepting as part of their everyday life things which would have been dismissed as science fiction a few years ago.” The pace of scientific change hasn’t slowed since 1963. We might still be waiting for jet packs but the widespread use of driverless cars and augmented reality is closer than ever and Wilson’s sentiment remains true.

As he said, “Unless we can harness science to our economic planning, we are not going to get the expansion we need.” I couldn’t agree more. And while the narrative may have shifted from economic “planning” to smarter inward investment and strategic government action, the central role of science in driving an economy that works for working people remains the same. Fifty years on, the legacy of Wilson’s “white heat” call to arms has never mattered more.

It was 55 years ago when Wilson made this speech white heat he lay the case for the UK to move forward to become a front-runner in the Fourth industrial revolution.  He outlined the need for more scientist more training, better education, his argument for higher education and the building of institutes for learning, housing and leisure. He foresaw the need to regenerate declining industrial areas placing centres of education in these areas regenerating areas through innovation and research. His vision was to create a socialist movement that worked to master the coming of the age of Robots. The vision of a new industrial age that would transform society fit for all and leaving no one behind.

So what went wrong, why did the UK fall behind in its vision of white heat the fourth industrial revolution? Were we all Luddites and refused to embrace technological change, did our intelligence not rise to the level necessary to master innovation?
No, the people were ready, people are always ready! The reason why the UK fell behind and continued on its old zombie model of economics and decline of industry was pure establishment control.

The rich and elite are quite happy with the continued shift that has seen the UK turn into a service nation. The zombie economics is of today are nothing more than a race to the bottom for workers. It gives the rich and so-called elites global access to invest, manipulate and control a rigged system run by stockbrokers and the Banks, one that sees private profit backed by public loss.
We see public funds squandered and breath-taking millions to fund private companies, we see public owned assists sold off and massive commissions given to friends of Politicians for conducting the sale of our very assets and public owned service and institutes.
That’s the control that a rigged system is fighting to keep.

The so-called ‘elites’ and our very establishment have maintained one fear for generations that is the fear of change.
They see change as a loss of control, to the establishment everything must be controlled and the very word revolution be it industrial or a movement they fear the loss of control.
The fourth industrial revolution in the UK has been a trickle of innovation, machinery and technology. It has been the mass production of the Far East. Commissioned by the global elites paying cheap Labour to an almost slave production line while gaining profits that make a countries national debt look like pocket change.

We have seen Robotics used to create some of our most innovative devices from Laptops to mobile phones flat screen tvs to electric cars.
Yet the manufacturing of which we have been excluded from, our lack of investment and clear industrial strategy has been deficit because the elite has no need for the working class only a class of consumers and subscriber.

We import these technological devices and become nothing but users and subscribers. We have the opportunity to become more than mass consumer’s through a proper industrial strategy that starts with building, education and training followed by Government state aid into research and development the UK would become the vibrant modern society manufacturing the next generation of Robotics and technology that creates the machinery and technology to bring the UK into the 21st century.

Our emphasis would be not to compete with the mass production of the Far East but to the production of quality, innovation and technology, our aim should be that of market leaders in reliability and practicality. Our very society has a chance at this junction of change to move forward and recapture the ground we have lost over the last fifty-five years and push forward into the 21st century of industry and modern development.

The Labour manifesto gives light in moving forward through social and economic change, a complete rebalance of industry and economic growth depends on restructuring the disenfranchised areas of the UK from Scotland to Cornwall, Scarborough and Wales from Liverpool to Belfast.
At this very moment writing from my home in Chesterfield, I think of George Stephenson the Renowned “Father of Railways who’s last home was but a few miles away and his statue stands outside Chesterfield railway station, Richard Arkwright the industrialist of Cromford mills or even the once world famous Sheffield steel. These were all places and people within five minutes of my location a testament to the first industrial revolution now forgotten. Now we see memorials and disused industrial wastelands built over with carbon copy retail parks of Curry’s, Next, Pizza Hut, Carphone warehouse and Pets at Home.

If lighting is to strike twice let the fourth industrial revolution begin and release white heat let’s see the regeneration of the Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Wales. Let us see Robotic production lines that create agricultural machinery that brings production to farms throughout the Home Counties without the exploitation or demand for cheap labour. Let’s see innovation in our fisheries and farming of our seas.
With the fourth industrial revolution and investment into education and science, we would see breakthroughs in medical research that do not belong to a pharmaceutical companies Patton, we would look at safe efficient sources of energy to run the machinery of revolution. Society has the will to embrace change our Politian’s need the will to make it happen.

Now is the junction of change and it must come with a plan that is inclusive for the many.

Government economic impact assessments have tied to give us a bleak outlook over the next 15 years after our departure from the EU.
This outlook is based entirely on the current economic model that in reality has been nothing but bleak for the working class and the less well of in our society.
It is the economics of control by the few over the many and has drastically failed us so much over the last 40 years. We have a GDP balance of 80% services we are one step away from another financial collapse anytime the Bankers get caught with their fingers in the till.
It is the biggest risk to the economy and our entire system the imbalance of a zombie model.

We have a choice we can maintain the status quo and continue with the zombie model that leaves us constantly one bite away from collapse and world contagion or we can rebalance our system with a building and industrial model for the next 15 years that will see us not only progress economically but bring in social and socialist change that is meaningful to all society.

Paul knaggs

Article by

Paul Knaggs

Labour Heartlands