But likewise, as economies become more intertwined, we find that they can also become more vulnerable to unexpected shifts and new forms of opaqueness. This isn’t a reason to turn away from globalization, but it is a reason to be vigilant. This essay will look at the way Britain has become more dependent on other countries through the process of globalization and it will suggest that this has mostly been for the best.
Although the exact moment of globalization occurring in Britain is a highly debatable question considering the length of Britain’s history and its extensive involvement in world affairs, it could be send that the election of “New Labour” in 1997 marked the rapid acceleration of the period. With Tony Blair’s successful efforts to remake the formerly left-wing, anti-free trade Labour party into a pro-market moderate party, Britain decided to go full steam ahead with economic global integration. The stage had been set a few years earlier. In the words of Merril Stevenson in a thoughtful article on the subject:
Britain got its economic act together just as globalisation was accelerating, in the late 1980s. It has managed to catch and ride the current wave successfully, selling the world financial and business services where once it sold cotton textiles and machines. Shifting earlier and more decisively than most countries out of mass manufacturing, where it had few advantages over lower-cost competitors, to more easily defended high-value-added goods and services gave it an edge. Margaret Thatchers painful union-bashing left Britain with flexible labour markets at a time when countries such as France and Germany are struggling with unbudgetable workers and high unemployment.1
Of course, with current economic events shaking the world economy, we begin to see some of the potential negative effects of globalization for Britain.