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Upon becoming Prime Minister, Theresa May installed industrial strategy as one of the principal planks of her economic policy. May's embrace of industrial strategy, with its tacit acceptance of a positive role for the state in steering and coordinating economic activity, initially appears to be a decisive break with an era dating back to Margaret Thatcher, in which government intervention was regarded as heresy. Whilst there are doubtless novel features, this article argues that continuity is the overriding theme of May's industrial strategy. First, despite the reluctance to confess it, like every UK government over the past forty years, May is proposing to intervene selectively to ‘pick winners’. Moreover, the strategy envisages extending assistance to industries which have been in receipt of substantial government resources since the 1970s. Likewise, the backing anticipated for industries identified in May's strategy is dwarfed by that given to those which are not, most notably the financial services sector. Far from radically rebalancing the structure of the UK economy, May's strategy seems destined to entrench the deindustrialisation with which its governments have grappled for almost a century.
Silverwood, J. and Woodward, R. (2018), From Maggie to May: Forty Years of (De)industrial Strategy. The Political Quarterly, 89: 631-639. DOI: 10.1111/1467-923X.12581
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