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Don't be fooled by 'candyfloss economy' commons touch.

Byline: Paul Flynn

It's a great mystery.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing from Wales at the fastest rate since the eighties.

In Newport alone, 2,500 manufacturing jobs in steel, aluminium and hi-tech have been sentenced for the chop since last February.

But it has no effect on the unemployment rate.

Even at the December depth of seasonal job losses, the unemployment rate is a very low 3.7 per cent.

Newport and Cardiff are about the same.

The slump in manufacturing jobs is invisible, masked by the growth in the candy floss economy.

There are plenty of call centres and dot. com jobs and more to come.

They are here today.

Where tomorrow?

We ignore the danger at our peril.

The backbone of the Welsh economy for a century has been manufacturing.

Once broken it cannot be fixed.

When a blast furnace is dynamited and left lying on its back, it cannot be mended.

Idle hi-tech equipment rapidly becomes obsolescent.

The capital cost of rebuilding is unaffordable.

Making things is good for us in other ways.

There is special satisfaction for workers in producing objects that are tangible, useful and top quality.

Are we doomed to become a nation of monitor watchers?

THE answer was there 2,000 years ago.

But the way political parties are funded is still causing grief.

The Tories have big firms as their paymasters.

Labour now has some as well to topup cash from the trade unions.

It's a rotten system. Commercial companies are not payrolling Labour because they believe in the minimum wage or fair pensions. They do it because they believe there will be pay-off.

Even if the parties are completely free of corruption, and they are, the suspicions linger that parties can be bought. Socrates tackled the problem 2,000 years ago.

The question was how do we stop our leaders become corrupt? Or as he put it, 'Who Guards the Guardians?'

The answer is to ban cash gifts from vested interests.

Parties need some cash.

It could come from a national fund run by an independent body with money fairly allocated on past election results.

The cost to the public purse would be microscopically small.

The gain in restoring faith in our democracy would be huge.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 8, 2002
Previous Article:Tradingplaces; with Graham.
Next Article:It's time to call last orders.

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