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Benefit of being local.


LOCAL. It's back. Going global is not what it was. The region is well familiar with the collapse of its local manufacturing base, the export of jobs and all the social consequences we are still trying to deal with, but it seems that the tide may be turning. Folk are waking up to two things. One is quality and the other is, as ever, survival.

Business is beginning to discover that quality is more difficult to control if the shop floor is 6,000 miles away, and a loss of quality usually means a loss of business, just as once you have exported your factory, jobs and skills what do you have left? Recent dogma has revolved round becoming more highly skilled in order to design products for the nano and bio-engineering world ahead.

We increase educational attainment targets. We become smarter, while the sweatshops of the world make it all and send the profits home.

We just get on with enjoying ourselves.

Unfortunately, the dogmatists forgot that just like you can't knock a nail in over the internet, neither can you deliver food or milk, as we all saw during the recent cold snap when milk was poured away and food became scarcer the farther people were from the supermarket.

They also forgot that we are never as smart as we think and other folk are actually smarter than we think. So, having got our factories, skills and order books in their local economies, it did not take long for the sweatshop entrepreneurs to realise that they might as well do the smart bit themselves. Educate their own kids to start designing tomorrow's products. That way they keep it all and we are left with is - what? - arguing with Southampton about whether we can bring in a few more boatloads of tourists? Nothing wrong in that, so long as we realise what sort of local economy we now have and really start building on it. Stop wasting time, energy and cash posturing. Start accepting that the Liverpool city region, as other cities round the UK, as across the globe, has to face up to its local position and begin developing properly targeted local skills, rather than slavishly following national attainment targets designed to find Oxbridge fodder.

This does not mean abandoning aspirations but setting realistic goals. It means, for the knowledge economy, stimulating intellectual potential and creating content and not fret where the servers are based. Not knee-jerking about things like the recent Centre for Cities Report that, quite rightly, identified the problems. It means asking whether parachuting in external candidates to become local MPs is part of a national policy or effective local representation.

I'll come back to this next week but, in the meantime, a starter for 10. Shouldn't all local MPs be, well, local?
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 22, 2010
Previous Article:THOUGHT for the DAY.

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