Symbol of British potencyGod, they're desperate. And giving their union backers a Cadbury Law shows just how desperate.
Typically, the Law was announced by Newsnight's Trotskyite economics editor. It's supposedly aimed at making it much harder for foreigners to take over British companies, which apparently will stop Britain losing any more British jobs for British workers.
For one thing, British jobs can just as easily be exported by British companies to their own factories in Eastern Europe and Asia. Indeed, Cadbury was doing precisely that - 80% of its business and 85% of its employees were already outside the UK, as were 78% of its shareholders.
More fundamentally, changes in company control are part and parcel of the way our hugeley successful market economy works. And there is no serious evidence that Britain loses out from the process overall.
The Economist recently published a survey of this evidence. They noted that over the last decade, foreigners have spent $1,000 bn on buying British companies, compared to $750 bn going in the other direction. But foreigners have tended to buy bigger operations, so in terms of numbers of takeovers, we've actually done more than they have (6000 vs 5400):
These are big scary changes. But as the Economist points out, many of the feared foreign takeovers have actually proved immensely beneficial to Britain. The workers from Austin Rover's old clapped out Cowley plant must wake up every morning and give thanks to BMW for rescuing them: they now work in the booming Mini biz, with 80% of their 200,000+ annual production exported. And throughout our economy, we have gained from the rapid importation of best practice from leading global companies - stuff we'd have taken decades to learn otherwise.
Labour are now putting all that at risk, They're sending out yet another signal that profit-focused businesses are not welcome here.
The bottom line? It's increasingly clear that Labour no longer expect to win the election. What's happening now is a series of moves by factions inside their divided leadership to position themselves for the aftermath of defeat.
Which is fine, as long as they do indeed lose.
But WTF will happen if they win?
They've comprehensively lost the business support they once so assiduously cultivated, both here and abroad. A Labour win now would be greeted in the same way as business and the market greeted the Labour win in 1974. Sterling would tank. Gilts would tank. And this time, the equity market would also tank. We'd be facing that mountain of debt without even a shovel.
No. It really doesn't bear thinking about.
PS Oh go on then. Just for fun, here's Clarkson on what happens when governments prop up failing British companies, allowing them to put off difficult decisions: