Below is a list of ex British companies that have in recent times disappeared, merged or have been taken over by foreign companies. The list is not comprehensive but is illustrative of how we treat our iconic brands. You may have others that you wish to add to this sorry list.
Astrium, Anglian Water, Bentley, British Nuclear Energy, British Steel, Blue Circle, British Midland International, Cadbury, Chelsea (football) EMI, Ferranti, GEC, ICI, ICL, Jaguar, Land Rover, Liverpool (football) Manchester United, Marconi, Manganese Bronze, MG, National Power, Orange, P&O, Pilkington, Plessey, Racal, Rover, Rolls Royce(cars), Reuters, Scottish Power, Swan Hunter, Thames Water, Vickers, Westland & Weetabix.
The size and breadth of this list is shocking. Many of these companies are substantial strategic and high technology companies which are now in foreign hands. The rhetorical question posed is; what other major country would allow such a wholesale sell off. Penetration of UK and other nation’s companies into Germany is neNissangligible because Germany appreciates and nurtures its brands. They are proud of their industrial brands which are symbolic of their nation. The other question is: why do these foreign companies see value in taking over British companies when our management and politicians do not? The sale of Cadbury is a classic example. Kraft, a smaller US company, took over Cadbury. Kraft had to raise the money on the markets but why didn’t Cadbury take over the smaller Kraft? Essentially, the Cadbury Board lacked ambition and were happy to take the money and run. Behind the Board were the politicians whose only interest is the preservation of jobs for British workers. Their policy is weak and potentially dangerous to the independence of the UK plc. More worryingly is that there is something rotten in the state of Britain.
Free markets are important and British companies invest abroad. The interdependence of nations is tied to trade. It just seems that the “fair play” British allow and in some cases encourage these inward foreign takeovers. At the same time these foreign countries are much better at protecting their own iconic brands. Britain has not only frittered away its manufacturing identity, it is also guilty of dismantling the concept of Britain itself. Look what the policy of devolution has done. Britain is in danger of fragmenting. Membership of the EU has diminished our independence and immigration has diluted our cultural heritage. European laws and directives also undermine aspects of our British Identity. They now even want to change our road signs! Yet our politicians sit idly by. They seem to hate the idea of Britain and are doing everything to destroy it. They seem to be ashamed of Britain instead of promoting its interests. At the heart of this destruction is the EU and our fawning politicians.
Nissan a successful Franco/Japanese car manufacturer operates a highly efficient plant in the North East of England. Recently, its CEO fired a warning shot about continued investment in its UK operations should the UK leave the EU. Not surprisingly, the pro-EU politicians have been happy to let his announcements go unchallenged. Nissan, the company that received public money (£40M in 2001 and £20M in 2010) and its CEO needs to be firmly put in its place. Such threats and scaremongering must not be tolerated.
Vince Cable (Business Secretary) in 2011 announced £1.4Bn of public funding grants to companies: Nissan, General Motors, Bentley, Pilkington and Haribo (German sweet manufacturer) and others. These are foreign owned companies in receipt of British tax payers’ money. This is more evidence of how we feed a fundamental disease: a lack of our own confidence, ambition and avoidance of responsibility.
Disregarding our famous brands is a manifestation of our national malaise and identity. The Mini brand shows our small minded (get it) attitude. The brand is sold for others to take advantage. Then, Mr Cameron on a PR campaign has the audacity to laud Mini as a great British success story. No, Mr Cameron, it’s now a great German success story. The Germans are the ones who are proud and there are some of us who will not be fooled.