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When BMW reversed out
of Rover, everyone ran around the countryside waving their arms in the air and
wondering what on earth happened to the British Motor Industry. Indeed, I’m
ashamed to say, I may have been party to some of that running and waving.

But then older, cleverer people rose to
their gouty feet and with measured tones, pointed out that, actually, more cars
were being made in Britain at the time than at any point in history.

Not any more. Honda
has said that it will not be making something or other
in Swindon, Nissan is about to cease production of Micras in the North and  Vauxhall has said that no more cars
will be made at Luton. This came as a surprise to me since I thought they’d
stopped making cars there years ago. And started making the Vectra.

There is,
however, some good news in all of this. If foreign
firms stop coming over here and building factories on flood plains, our
traditional autumn rains will have somewhere to go other than the vault in York
Minster or Mrs Miggins’ tea shop in Telford.

Plus, remember that we have been telling the
auto makers for some time that we’d like lower prices, so if the opportunity
arises for General Motors to save a few quid by making its cars in Bongo Bongo
land, then they’ll take it.

These people are US businessmen and see the
world not as a planet but as dots and dashes on a balance sheet. It costs
£5,000 to make a car in Luton, wherever the hell that is. And £3,000 to make it
in Lahore, wherever the hell that is. So they will make it in Lahore.

Yes, a few thousand car workers in
Bedfordshire get thrown out of work. But who cares, apart from the man in the local toy shop who sold rather
fewer Thunderbird dolls this Christmas than he had been expecting? It’s a global
village, remember, and a job lost in Luton is a job gained somewhere else.

In the past, GM paid its workers in England
and the workers put some of that money in charity boxes. Well now they’ve cut
out the middle man. They have put the whole job in the charity box, and very
nice too. You and I get cheaper cars and Mrs Miggins doesn’t get raw sewage in
her tea bags.

Except, of course, Luton’s decimated.

“Yes, I want a cheaper car but could I, in all conscience, buy such a thing if I knew it had brought misery to someone?”

Now, generally speaking, I have little truck
with those who throw furniture through the windows at McDonald’s, and plant
herbs in Parliament Square. I was not in Nice recently sporting dreadlocks and
a bandanna. And it was not I who led the charge in Seattle.I’ve never been able to understand the
protesters’ grievance. If I’m going to get hit in the
face with a policeman’s truncheon, I’d like it to be for something more worthwhile than the commonality of hamburgers throughout the world.

Yes, I want a
cheaper car but could I, in all conscience, buy such a thing if I knew it had
brought misery to someone?

When I wake up in the morning, this comes
way, way down on my list of things I must address in the day. It’s below fox
hunting. It’s below the sodomy of 16-year-old boys. It’s below everything. I
just don’t care. In fact, sometimes, when I’m hungry and in a country where the
ice cubes can kill, it’s good to stroll under that big yellow M and get a tasty
Big Mac with fries.

And it’s the same with banks. Men in suits
lend men with bones through their noses some money and then want it back with
some interest. This, it seems to me, is good business practice.

But banks, we are told by those of an
anti-global-capitalism nature, have a great deal of money while there are
countries in the world that do not. This is unfair, they say. Yes, but
Barclays, so far as I can tell, does not run an army and does not spend 90 per cent of its income on shiny new AK47s.

However, I’ve been
forced to question these tweedy, middle-England views
this month by the news from Detroit.

Yes, I want a
cheaper car but could I, in all conscience, buy such a thing if I knew it had
brought misery to someone?

Would you, for instance, buy a jumper, if
you knew that it had been knitted by a five-year-old girl in leg irons, who got
paid in Rhohypnol?

No. So why should you rush out to buy the next generation of Vectra when you know its low price is a direct result of GM shutting down car
production in Luton and putting thousands on the dole. You save £100 and to hell with the poor bastards who are having to feed their children on soil. Or each
 other.

So I find myself siding with these people
who worry about the globalisation of everything. Sure, some kid in Guatemala
may benefit from Luton’s loss
but do you know what? I don’t care about some kid in
Guatemala. The world is not a village, as anyone who’s flown to New Zealand
will testify. It’s enormous and Guatemala is miles away. In the same way that
Luton is bloody miles away from Detroit.

I believe that
there must be some reminder for the world’s car makers that the blips on their
computer screens are lives and children’s Christmas presents.

Maybe they should only be
allowed to close a factory if the chairman himself walks onto the shop floor,
butt naked save for a pair of fluffy slippers, and delivers the news himself.

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