It seems to me that David Plowden must be a "glass half empty" sort of chap.
Certainly, there are products for which we all mourn the passing and indeed companies (Johnson's of Hendon, May and Baker ..... Kodak - OK, the last one's tongue in cheek!) but there are equally some excellent materials available now that weren't when I first started B/W processing 38 years ago. Without getting into the old fibre/RC discussion, having to leave prints washing for ages, then waiting for them to dry (and curl), squeegeeing them to try to get a half-decent glaze free of bubbles and so on were all time-consuming, laborious processes that I'm pleased not to have to do any more, thanks to fine products such as are produced by Ilford.
Speaking from the position of someone who hasn't managed to make it on one of the Ilford visits, I would pretty much bet my pension that with today's electronic technology and the company's obvious enthusiasm, quality control and consistency of its products is better now than it's ever been. Mr Plowden seems to be suggesting that Ilford applies different standards to HP5 manufacture than to Pan-F. I rather suspect that Simon Galley would have something to say about that!