who Killed the British Motor Industry pt 3

who Killed the British Motor Industry pt 3


one of my favorite stories from those early days is this after they designed the Austin 1800 they found out that it was too wide to fit in a tunnel that links the two halves of launguage together over this road here so what they had to do was load them all onto trucks on this side of the road bear in mind they were only painted at this stage take them across two lanes of traffic and then a quarter of a mile up there in all weathers with salt on the roads and then through a gate just beyond the brow of the hill [Applause] unsurprisingly British Leyland was on a slide into oblivion and that’s before we get to the biggest problem of them all we’re German manager was spending five percent of his time on industrial relations the people at British Leyland and for for that matter was spending something like sixty percent of their time on industrial relations the trade unions would have to accept some responsibility the major responsibility was management the managers who were there at the time looking back on it now would agree that there were lots of things they should have done earlier had they known but they didn’t know the whole policy that would be was being pursued at the time in my view was wrong trade unions had no part or indeed no authority within that framework at all they were the people who made the cars let me take Derek Robinson for example where to the industry all his life and then you bring in managers or from a business studies course about a degree in business management couldn’t mend a puncture in the motorcycle did you speak about the people who made the cars as the problems well in the first half of 77 and I went there on November the 7th in the first half there were 357 stoppages at Longbridge alone which strikes were exceptions rather than the in my five years of british leyland the the real major crises amounted to eight and that was eight occasions when the whole business stood at a very serious chance of coming to a total end still there was always the good old meanie through it all this ten-foot symbol of Englishness just went on [Music] but even it had problems when it was first launched wearing a price tag of 497 pounds Ford bought one and took it apart desperate to find out how on earth their rivals at BMC were doing it for the money [Music] it took them a while but they got there in the end BNC weren’t doing it for the money they were making a loss on everyone this and to make matters worse they never updated it either everywhere else in the world cars are replaced every four years or so but not in brekkie [Music] in 1979 a new government came along and even though BL were working on a promising tire with Honda Maggie’s hard nuts could see only one solution sell the lot Emily pot was first to go then Leyland trucks and buses and amid mutterings about selling the family sold at a Johnny foreigner jr. was sold to for when they then suggested flogging Land Rover off to General Motors though the muttering became sweet the government backed off and sold Rover and Land Rover to British Aerospace on a strict understanding that neither one is sold on again for three years the sale of Rover the last British owned volume car manufacturer to BMW by its parent company British Aerospace took business van and stock markets totally by surprise this was a great deal the government could say we didn’t do it British Aerospace made over six hundred million quid and raver at last at a secure future you’re saying there’s nothing to fear from it I think there is no reason for fear because I see more chances for the new group Rover MP and w then for each of us alone rovers to be broken up the question is what happens next at BMWs Munich HQ the board will reach a verdict soon here thousands of workers at rover Longbridge await their fate this is BMWs legacy the rover 75 heard of that car but in its early life a serious problem for air traffic controllers you never saw one on the roads that the air fields was full of them and whose fault was this ladies and gentlemen I give you B and W I obviously went to a traditional English pub and thought the English they’re liking the low ceilings II support the laser and they are noticing seafood machine in the corner so they will have the flashing lights on the dashboard yeah this is very British of course it is in the same way that all Germans wear leather shorts and green hats [Applause] facilities crane dials and this she would have Ethan would to make it British is like fitting an onion holder to the dashboard of a Renault to make it French it’s stupid so here we are in the dining room and in the best traditions of Agatha Christie I must now decide who it was that killed the British car industry was it Len Lord the man who brought it all together or Tony Benn the man he nationalized it was it the trade unions or Maggie’s hard nuts all the spell under foreign ownership well after long and careful consideration I have decided it was all of them good night [Music] [Music] [Music]


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