Golden Gordon?

Yesterday’s Labour Party conference speech by Gordon Brown contained more than its fair share of policy announcements, including a pledge to spend £1bn on establishing a national investment corporation

It was billed as a make or break moment, a final opportunity for Gordon Brown to revive flagging fortunes ahead of an election next spring.

And while only time will tell whether he met this objective, yesterday’s conference speech certainly contained more than its fair share of policy announcements.

He pledged a referendum on changing the voting system, laws to curb excessive City bonuses and measures to tackle anti-social behaviour. He promised supervised state hostels for teenage mothers and even free personal care in the home for the elderly.

But of most interest to readers of The Engineer, and apparently of little interest to much of the mainstream media this morning, is the promise to spend £1bn on establishing a national investment corporation to provide finance for exploiting British developed IP and growing manufacturing.

On the surface this seems like a good idea. Britain has plenty of areas of world-leading expertise – particularly, as Brown mentioned yesterday, in low carbon technologies – and any measures that reconcile the twin aims of a low carbon future with domestic economic growth are to be applauded.

The trouble is that we’ve heard it all before. For all the talk of rebalancing the economy, assistance for the manufacturing and technology industries has been little more than window dressing alongside the billions pumped in to the banks.

Brown’s government now has a last chance to deliver on these promises, and with the clock well and truly ticking there is little time to lose. Fail to deliver on the pledges of his conference speech and he will surely lose the next election. Convert his words to deeds and he may just have a chance.

Jon Excell
Deputy Editor