The two previous chapters have tried to establish three basic points about British economic performance in the twentieth cen-tury. First, the historiography has been obsessed with the theme of decline, and deeply entrenched supply-side deficiencies in the manufacturing sector have been presented as the main source of weakness. Second, recent long-run and comparative research on manufacturing performance has undermined the idea that Britain’s living standards were overtaken because of British manufacturing failure. There is evidence of weakness since the late nineteenth century, but problems seem to have been addressed sooner or later and signs of the progressive deterioration of British manufacturing are conspicuously absent. Finally, there are some grounds for arguing that British manufacturing trade performance has been rather harshly judged, especially during the golden age. This is not to claim that from 1900 the British economy was dynamic, powerful and successful but rather to try to establish a more balanced framework for judging economic performance. The first step in a more balanced assessment must be to establish the patterns of sectoral and industrial change and the main outlines of comparative performance.
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