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New Left Review I/4, July-August 1960


Nick Faith

Shipbuilding up the Creek

last year,PEP produced a dispassionate and critical pamphlet about the deplorable state of British shipbuilding. The leaders of the industry reacted like cavalry generals who had just been told by Capt. Liddell Hart that the tank was here to stay: they refused to be driven into the Twentieth Century by a lot of loudmouthed metropolitan planners and college-boys. The Chairman of the Shipbuilding Advisory Council has since resigned because of the sheer inertia of the industry. The Unions have been noticeably reluctant to consider modernisation plans, partly through genuine fear of redundancy, partly because it could destroy the craft basis of the industry, so narrowly reflected in the union structure. If the Government insisted upon modernisation as a condition of financial help, the workers would stand to suffer considerable dislocation: the callous stupidity of labour relations in shipbuilding is reminiscent of the era of Uncle Tom’s Cabin rather than of Crossbow.

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