Premier promises 1m jobs in young trades, but is criticised for the diminished ownership of British industries
Gordon brown has again hailed the UK’s digital industries – this time as he drew election battle lines between his own party and David Cameron’s Conservatives.
The prime minister – who has previously spoken of the importance of Britain’s videogame trade – went as far as saying that the Labour Party is the right choice for investment in the creative industries.
“We are leading in the creative industries, arts, music… we have got a platform in Britain to build on the future,” he told the BBC.
“We need to be seen as the creative hub of the world where all of the talent of the world are able to descend upon us,” he added.
“My vision for the future of Britain is as the digital, low-carbon, biotechnology, creative industry leader of the world – and that’s where the jobs will come from, I can tell you.
“What does it depend on? Investment by the Government,” he said.
“Over the next few years, a million jobs will come from the expansion of these areas, as the result of the actions we are taking now to build a strong industry and education policy.”
Brown’s pre-election rhetoric comes just weeks after the Labour Government declined to back the game industry with precisely that kind of investment.
The Cabinet’s pre-Budget report ruled that there was not enough compelling evidence to instigate a tax break policy for the game sector – a decision made in the face of an unprecedented campaigning effort from the industry itself.
Numerous British studios, such as Dundee-based Realtime Worlds, claim that the tax snub will encourage developers to move out of the UK to more industry-friendly nations such as Canada.
The shrinking of the UK’s game development industry has, for some observers, mimicked the UK’s other manufacturing industries that have diminished over the years.
Brown’s interviewer, Andrew Marr, said that there was a “dramatic shrinking of the UK’s manufacturing base”.
The PM replied that how the UK earns its living will be the “decision of the decade” in the upcoming election, before firing out what he deems as key differences between Labour and the opinion-poll frontrunners, the Conservatives.
“The choice is; will you be prepared to invest in the future of these industries? You’ve got to be prepared to invest, and the Tories won’t,” he said.
“You’ve got to invest in education and skills, and the Tories will cut the school budget. You’ve got to be prepared to run an economy for growth, and not let the recession run its course.”
Marr’s retort, however, was that there’s no money left to invest.
“You have a huge, huge budget deficit to deal with,” he said, adding that much of the UK’s workforce is now in the pocket of foreign benefactors – an accusation which may strike a chord with the game industry, as foreign companies such as Crytek and Square Enix buy out and rescue struggling British companies.
“Electric cars, for example, are being dominated by Japan and the United States, we’re getting our wind farms from Germany, we’re getting our nuclear power stations from France,” said Marr.
“I’m sorry, but I think that such profits [leaving the UK] means that there are jobs in Britain,” Brown replied.
“Talking-down Britain is not going to succeed, because there is huge talent in this country,” he added.
The PM refused to get drawn into any debate on when the imminent general election will take place, though the furthest deadline – by convention – is June.