Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some Baby Rabbits on the Curate's Lawn

As Rover went to China, so Jaguar and Land Rover head to India.

The £1.15 billion takeover was worth far more than the money paid. The acquisition of Jaguar – a symbol of British style and engineering superiority, albeit until last week owned by Americans – was a moment of national triumph almost matching India’s victory in last year’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup.

Tata has been buying British since 2000 when it purchased Tetley, which had been selling Indian tea to the UK since 1856. Last year it completed the £6.2 billion takeover of Corus, the British steel giant, in the biggest foreign takeover by an Indian company. Its purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover was smaller in scale but greater in symbolism. The Indians had bought the makers of James Bond’s new wheels, Inspector Morse’s classic and the workhorse of the British Army for a song. “It took a company from a former colony to come to the rescue of a beleaguered British brand,” said The Times of India with undisguised pride.

Tata is not the only Indian firm on a buying spree in Britain. In the past year Vijay Mallya, the airlines and breweries magnate, has bought Whyte & Mackay, the Scottish distiller which makes the Dalmore and Isle of Jura single malt whiskies as well as Vladivar vodka. Last week Hichens Harrison, Britain’s oldest independent stockbroker, announced that it was considering a £49m offer from Religare, a Mumbai-based stockbroker which wants to cash in on the Indian rush to buy British companies.

The deep pockets of the reverse colonists is revealed in the bidding for Jaguar. Had Tata not been successful, next in line was Mahindra, its Indian rival.

Britain is beginning to look like a significant outpost in a new Indian empire.

If India is proud, what should Britain feel ?

New Delhi, January 20
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today announced another £825 million aid package for development in India over the next three years. Of the aid, up to £500 million is expected to be spent on health and education.

Brown arrived in India today hailing relations between the two countries as a “partnership of equals” and supported India’s bid for permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council as well as a more prominent role of New Delhi in G-8.

There's not really much to say about that, except that India must be not only proud, but happy. Why tax your successful industrialists to improve your health and education, or reduce your nuclear weapons spend, when another government is happy to tax its own people for your sake ?

History never moves quite in the way you expect. When middle-class student radicals were encouraging the BL and Ford workers in whatever demands they were making that week, the right said that the companies would be uncompetetive and would be wiped out by foreign competition - and to a very large extent that's happened.

But not completely. Tata aren't as far as I know going to shift the Land Rover line to India - they think they can make them at a profit here, even though UK/US management failed. While old British brands like Singer, Triumph, Morris, Austin were disappearing, Toyota, Honda and Nissan were building highly successful UK car plants from scratch. My last Derby-built Toyota was a lovely car.

Where's the decent UK management ? Well, a lot of the clever-clogs's went into the City, the law or media - all places where you can make a lot of money without ever mixing with the working class except at the end of a lens or in the dock. How we arts and politics types looked down on the engineering and mining students ! And the rest went into local government or politics, where they could poke them at arms-length.

A couple have been barred from fostering after refusing to stop smacking their natural child and have appealed against the ban. An adoption panel asked David and Heather Bowen from Taunton to reconsider using physical discipline towards their daughter Emma, nine.

The pair refused and were blacklisted over their "behaviour management".

The couple said they thought they had been good candidates and could not understand the decision. Mr Bowen, aged 42, said: "I am a parent governor at a local school, my wife works for the school parent teacher association, has been a special needs careers advisor and now works in the school. We both assist with children's work at our local church. Based on the evidence presented to the council, we cannot understand why we are unsuitable and it seems that we have been excluded on the basis that we physically chastise our birth child, in accordance with our beliefs and UK law."

Linda Barnett, head of children's services at Somerset County Council, said: "In assessing parents' suitability for fostering we take into account a range of factors which we gather from extensive assessment and discussion with the potential carers.

"In common with most other local authorities, Somerset has a foster carer's agreement which describes our belief about parenting. Where carers have a very strong personal belief that differs from the foster carer agreement, it is potentially unfair to expect them to operate to a set of guidelines which conflicts with this".

I didn't know that Somerset County Council had either the legal right or the ability to have "our belief about parenting".

Elsewhere, highly unpleasant reports from Kosovo.

Serb prisoners had their internal organs removed and sold by ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo war, according to allegations in a new book by the world's best known war crimes prosecutor.

Carla Del Ponte, who stepped down in January as chief prosecutor at the Hague tribunal for crimes committed in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, said investigators found a house suspected of being a laboratory for the illegal trade. A senior adviser to Hashim Thaci, Kosovo's prime minister and a leading member of the Kosovo Liberation Army which is accused of benefiting from the trade, yesterday denied the allegations.

According to the sources, senior figures in the Kosovo Liberation Army were aware of the scheme, in which hundreds of young Serbs were allegedly taken by truck from Kosovo to northern Albania where their organs were removed. Miss Del Ponte provides grim details of the alleged organ harvesting, and of how some prisoners were sewn up after having kidneys removed.

"The victims, deprived of a kidney, were then locked up again, inside the barracks, until the moment they were killed for other vital organs. In this way, the other prisoners were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source, pleaded, terrified, to be killed immediately," Miss Del Ponte writes.

And another little snippet from Burnley :

AN outraged Burnley woman has branded as "cruel" a taxi driver who forced her to walk home after she started to give birth in his taxi.
Miss Joanne Ormonde (28), of Albion Street, says she was told to pay the driver and walk home when she went into labour in the back of his taxi on Saturday afternoon.

"I begged him to drop me off outside my house," said Miss Ormonde, who gave birth to Riley five weeks prematurely minutes later. "We were at the top of my street, the baby's head was out and he refused to take me
any further. He just looked around at me, demanded the £2.50 fare and told me to get out immediately," she said.

She struggled down Albion Street screaming for her partner, Mr Kevin Eckersley, while holding the baby in and managed to get to the house in time to give birth as an ambulance arrived.


Thud said...

Don't expect our govt or media to say anything negative about Kosovo...its a much better place without those nasty Serbs...isn't it?

Anonymous said...

One wonders whether the Burnley Express might be missing a snippet or two about the identity of the cabbie.

Perhaps Im just paranoid.

Laban said...

I imagine the deleted posts on the newspaper site made exactly that point.