British industry at the start of the New Elizabethan Age looked a world leader. It led the world in the production of cars, trucks and buses, heavy machinery, aircraft, ships, chemicals, locomotives, household appliances and heavy electrical goods, and looked poised to do so with jet aircraft and computers. Its export trade was thriving. Now, sixty years on, many of these industries have virtually disappeared, while those of our competitors have flourished. Much of what remains is under foreign ownership. We have lost most of our export markets, and many goods essential to our economy have to be imported. How did this happen? The traditional explanation for Britain's loss of competitiveness blames outdated working practices, failure to invest and modernise, bad management, bloody-minded unions, the loss of Empire and the ability of Germany and Japan to start again from scratch after the war. All this is true, but the picture is far more complex.