The continuing dire performance of the UK economy, including the pitiful growth figure for the last quarter of 2011, offers little hope for a turnaround in our economic fortunes any time soon.
Manufacturers laid off staff as activity in the sector fell quicker than any time since the summer of 2009, according to the Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing PMI survey. My Livingston constituency is a choice location for dozens of leading manufacturers, many of them operating in hi-tech industries. Last year I visited Touch Bionics Ltd, a company based in Livingston which does most of its business abroad. It develops and manufactures state of the art prosthetic hands and fingers.
The message at Touch, as with so many other manufacturers I meet, is clear – it is ready, willing and able to play its part in helping to drag the economy out of the current mess, but it needs a little more help in order to really make a difference.
A more proactive approach by government, at both UK and Scottish levels, to helping business, particularly on lending and supporting job creation, would go a long way to stimulating recovery.
This is the approach Labour is advocating in its five-point plan for jobs, but so far the coalition seems determined to plough on regardless with its reckless austerity plans.
Only time will tell if the governments at Westminster and Holyrood finally get the message and provide our manufacturers and other businesses with the support they need to help get us out of this crisis.
Graeme Morrice, Labour MP for Livingston