Capital & Class. - 1985 - 1986. - Issue 27 issue 27 by Conference of Socialist Economists

By Conference of Socialist Economists

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Rush and L . Soete (1984) 'Clothing', in Basic Consumers' Goods, ed . Ken Guy, Gower . 1970 1980 Clothing industry that it may be reasonable to accept that the assumed scrapping in official capital stock might be a significant underestimation of actual scrapping, particularly for the most recent period (Rush & Soete : 203-9) . Those with first-hand experience of the industry, however, would argue the opposite way . A buoyant market in second-hand industrial sewing machines would seem to point to a rather different picture (Rainer, 1984 : 145 ; NEDO, 1971) : official scrapping, if anything, may be an overestimation of the actual scrapping rate .

The rationalisation that may have arisen from these closures however has been counteracted by the large 43 Capital & Class 44 numbers of minifirms that have sprung up on the fringes of the official economy in areas of high unemployment . According to the recent Euromonitor publication on the UK clothing industry, in the West Midlands alone, there has been a growth of at least 400 such unregistered minifirms employing 20,000 or more people (Euromonitor, 1985 : 48) . In the makeshift, fly-by-night factories, the marginal productivity is unlikely to be significantly higher than in established firms .

For as the example of local economic policy in Sheffield showed, any attempt to implement radical policies, from what after all are only small leftwing hillocks of power on a vast capitalist plain, will be fraught with problems . And this will remain the case whatever the complexion of government nationally . For even if Labour wins the next general election, the problems identified earlier concerning the use of local government for local regeneration will not disappear . It will require complicated legislation just to free authorities from the legal restrictions they face, still leaving the territorial, ideological and financial ones intact .

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