Sunday, September 13, 2009

Political Expediency

The current debate about the Phoenix Four and their profit from their Rover take over and that company's subsequent collapse is typically misleading. Historically management, unions and government were always short sighted about Rover and its predecessor companies. EG the Morris Minor could surely have been developed and marketed around the like the old VW Beatle was. Likewise it has taken a German company to capitalise on the design and cachet of the Austin Mini.

The Unions at British Leyland under Red Robbo kept that company in a semi permanent state of civil war bewteen workers and management with the result that the company was almost beynd rescuing when BMW stepped in. Following the decsion of BMW to step out other possible rescuers came forward including Alchemy. Alchemy hoped to base the company for the future on its MG type sportscar heritage. This would have meant a smaller and as the saying goes leaner company which would have a reasonable niche in the marketplace. The problem was that Alchemy's paln would involve definite quite large job losses. the Unions whose actions over many years had contributed to British Leyland's sad predicament were agin Alchemy.

The Labour
govt was heavily union influenced, then fell for the charms of the Phoenix 4 and beguiled by the chimera of keeping most of the jobs going whereas proper objective analysis even at the time, favoured the Alchemy plan. After all if BMW a hard nosed car maker which still goes from strength to strength, was unable to keep the whole show on the road how should any body else realistically expect to do so?

The Conservatives too were hardly maintaining an objective approach at the time (Spring 2000)as they appeared to concentrate more on making political capital out the immediate job losses issue which would almost certainly have been part of the Alchemy plan, than on saving a good part of the business and jobs in the longer term that the Alchemists could well have achieved. However all this happened on Labour's watch and it is sadly typical of many of today's politicians that responsibility is not accepted.

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