Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 11, 2019

Brexit Weary? The Future Of Britain Rests With You

The future of Britain rests, in the long run, with you.

All of this gutless defeatism we read, day in, day out, of how bad a minority of referendum voters think of Britain’s future, reminds me of my earliest recollections. Born in 1939, my most vivid memories are post war, the hardships we faced. Rationing was the worst. At the age of 6 I helped my dad on his allotment after he had served 6 years, Dunkirk, El Alamein, Tobruk, Normandy D-day.

The future of British design rests, in the long run, with you.

In 1946, war-weary Britain was facing difficult socio-economic challenges. A government-backed exhibition called ‘Britain Can Make It’ ran at the V&A for 14 weeks in the autumn of 1946, confidently presenting a progressive, forward-thinking nation that could compete in a post-war global market.

Council of Industrial Design, ‘Britain Can Make It’ Guide, 1946.

The aim of the Britain Can Make It exhibition was both to bolster Britain’s manufacturing industry, and, to promote a ‘design consciousness’ in the British public. The severe debt left behind by the Second World War, as well as continued rationing – which wouldn’t ease until 1952 – meant that income generated through trade, especially international trade, was crucial to recover Britain’s crippled economy. The government decided that well-designed consumer goods for the domestic and export markets would represent British industry as modern, forward-thinking and high-quality. The Council of Industrial Design was founded to “promote by all practicable means the improvement of design in the products of British industry”.

The exhibition emphasised how intrinsic industrial design was to economic renewal. All the goods featured in the exhibition would be made available for sale to foreign customers, while the home-grown consumer market would also get a taste of ‘the best, and only the best’ that modern, post-war Britain could produce. It was visited by nearly one and a half million people. The V&A proved the ideal venue – the exhibits usually on display had been removed for safety during wartime – freeing up about half the Museum’s total area at the time for the show.

Does this ring any bells?

We, Britain, paid our war debts. Many countries, now in the EU, never did. Germany was one. Being sold out to the EU by Edward Heath hurt my pride in being English, British, now 80 years of it. Post war businesses weren’t whingeing and wringing their hands. They got on with it. Now, we have these fat arsed moaners waiting to be guided to the promised land. It’s out there, its called the World Trade Organisation! 

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