SHEFFIELD, England – Sheffield knows all about cuts — and no one knows better than Philip Wright. A scissors manufacturer, he remembers this city at the height of its steel-making glory, when Sheffield’s furnaces and factories produced ships and tools and cutlery for the dinner tables of the world. The huge steelworks are mostly gone now, like so much British industry over the past few decades, the victim of international competition, changing technology and governments with other priorities. “The city at night used to be alight,” said Wright, whose tiny factory is a link to Sheffield’s past — and, he hopes, a part of its future. That dream is under threat from deep government spending cuts to be unveiled Wednesday that many fear will once again crush cities in England’s traditional industrial belt, a generation after they were laid low by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s severe brand of capitalism. Sheffield lost 70,000 jobs between 1979 and 1987, according to the local government — a quarter of the city’s total. The decline in steel-making was compounded by the closure of nearby coal mines in the wake of Thatcher’s war with the unions.
Read the whole piece. And brace for what’s coming if you’re British.