Just when you think the sense of despondency about the UK couldn’t get any lower, you find that it can. And this time it’s got nothing to do with strikes or trains running on time, or crumbling infrastructure. This time it’s to do with semiconductors.
Semiconductors are a crucial part of the world’s operation being part of improvements in communications, healthcare, technology and transport. During the pandemic, it became clear that the world was far too dependent on Taiwan and China for semiconductors and with China becoming more aggressive, any sane country was looking to become self-reliant in semiconductor production or at least to move away from the Chinese-Taiwan axis.
The UK is one of those countries. However, as with everything that happens in Britain, the country is lagging behind. Its plan which was supposed to see the light of day last year, has not yet emerged and a clear lack of experienced and joined-up policy making in Whitehall has meant that the UK is falling behind quite severely.
As The Times has reported, members of the UK’s semiconductor industry have expressed clear concerns to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the government’s ability to address the importance of the industry, and that their confidence with the government declines with every passing month.
This follows a report by Bloomberg that highlighted the obvious. Given the UK’s overreliance on Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, should China invade the island, the UK would be up a creek with no paddle.
Has this prompted the UK government to get its shit together?
The answer seems to be no.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which for some reason is in charge of preparing the UK’s semiconductor plan has kept complete control of the project and has refused to share strategy with other departments. Which given its reputation as an unserious department is not a good thing.
Add into this the fact that most people are eyeing up the government’s Spring Budget to see whether the semiconductor issue will be taken seriously and you have a clear case of tied hands especially as there are some who believe whatever money is set aside will be taken from other departments.
Consequently, it seems as with almost everything the British state does now, the UK lags behind and has the echoes of every failed African state since the end of colonisation. The joys keep coming.
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