Given that the United Kingdom spearheaded the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, and has a long and rich history of leading the world when it comes to innovation and production, it’s strange to think that the manufacturing industry has been in a sharp decline for decades now. Much of the lasting damage was done in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but it had already begun to decline before Wilson or Thatcher hammered the last nails in the coffin.
Facing the threat of redundancy, a group of skilled engineers at Lucas Aerospace UK came up with an audacious plan to safeguard the future for the workers. Forty years ago, fed up with making military products they turned their attention to ‘socially useful’ and ‘environmentally sustainable alternatives’. They drew up a plan of 150 products which would benefit the country and allow staff to keep their jobs. This was rejected both by the company and ultimately by the government. The Plan tells their story.
Steve Sprung’s documentary is unconventional to say the least. Firstly, at over 200 minutes it’s fairly epic in length. He uses archive material with contemporary footage, mixed in with in-depth interviews with a few of the engineers, to outline their plan. It’s rather unfocused and long-winded at times but this approach allows the point to be made in a semi-academic and persuasive way. The Plan demonstrates what could have been achieved if people had been prepared to follow another path. There’s also hope for the future if we, as a society, can change.