BL's Survival

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Your leader writers seem to assume that all who love the motor car must be tweedy Tory backwoodsmen.

Motor Sport’s comment on British Leyland (December) starts with the spectre of “unrest, go-slows, strikes, kidnapping, riots . . . uncontrollable inflation, reduced hying standards and shortage of vital fuels.” It goes on in support Margaret Thatcher.

Just the stuff to raise a few right-wing blood-pressures, with the calming hint that Mrs Thatcher may sort it all out! But as the start of a serious analysis of the future of the British motor industry, I find it hysterical, narrow and unhelpful.

You say Sir Michael Edwardes’ “survival plan” is “a much-needed breath of fresh air” and add, hopefully: “One can only hope Sir Michael knows what he is doing . . .”

One certainly can. Sir Michael’s record as head of Chloride shows that his idea of “survival” is producing a profit from one part of a firm by strangling the rest.

His “BL survival” kit would see the total or partial closure of thirteen factories and the virtual certainty of sending the MG the same way as the Riley — a death dragged out by phoney badge-engineering for a few years before total oblivion.

All this comes as Renault, Fiat, Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors are spending hundreds of millions of pounds on expansion — most of it on brand new plant to serve the European market.

Perhaps BL’s competitors know something that Sir Michael and his supporters in Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet don’t.

But as the last potential for turning British Leyland into an innovative mass car-maker for the 1980s is crushed and the Abingdon MG is driven into the graveyard, your writers could at least take a wore serious look at the alternatives to this perverted idea of survival.

London S.W.19 – Rick Thomas.

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