Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stinking fish and red herrings

A fish rots from the head down, is the saying, and a truly rotten government we have. Currently they are busy monstering a venal group of auto company directors who did exactly what the Labour (!) government wanted them to do, which was to keep hope alive for MG Rover for just long enough to get through the next General Election. Equally obedient to his master's voice, the mannered and self-regarding Peston now emotes at them ("I feel slightly nauseous").

Those of us who are old enough will remember the history: how venture capitalist Jon Moulton came with a plan to reduce the money-haemorrhaging plant to a smaller, actually-profit-making outfit specialising in sporty cars. The rest of the enormous site would be cleared and developed as a residential and shopping area. Redundant workers would be suitably paid-off and their pensions preserved - and many of them might then have had a chance of employment with other car makers elsewhere in the country.

Oh, no, this would never do. The land was polluted and quite unsuitable for residential development. Rover still had a future. Moulton was a wicked chancer. His twopenny-halfpenny firm had no business meddling with a great bellwether of the British economy.

Now, the site has been cleared for residential and retail development. There is no car making at all. The workers didn't get the compensation they would have had, nor the pensions, nor the alternative employment. A few men have - legally - made about £9 million each, hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as the outrageous booty brought home by bankers and City gamblers.

And the Fourth Estate plays along with the distraction of the public's attention.

Robert Peston is the son of Maurice Peston, Baron Peston of Mile End, a Labour life peerage created for Peston senior on 24 March 1987.

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