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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a thriller - should be compulsory reading, 1 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Surrender: How British Industry Gave Up the Ghost, 1952-2012 (Hardcover)
This book should be compulsory reading for MPs and senior businesspeople.

The quality of writing is superb and it's a gripping and sobering read - at times reading like a thriller - hard to put down as it comprehensively documents the tragic story of British self-inflicted industrial demise - like a slow motion car crash.

The story is divided into 3 time-frames - from the post WW2 phase of ambitious national self-belief and technological advantage, thru' 1970s industrial strife, and the subsequent years of defeatist, short-sighted de-industrialisation that continues today.

As someone who has lived through much of this period, and marveled at the tragic betrayal of our great companies by the political class, greedy investment banker/asset strippers, hopeless highly-paid management and obstructive unions, the detailed analysis of individual companies and markets rings true. Factually accurate detailed explanations illustrate what happened to a host of former national champions and household names like ICI, GEC, Hawker Siddeley, Leyland/MG Rover, Coutaulds, BSA etc etc.
It shows how German, French, US, Japanese & Italian governments consistently and doggedly support their industries, whilst consecutive UK administrations have little or no economic patriotism - most recently placing multi £bn train orders to support German workers at the expense of UK manufacturing.

Numerous destructive mergers and takeovers (eg the Cadbury fiasco)are documented, and contrasted with the long-term stability and well-financed 'patient capitalism' of Germany, so enormously and relentlessly successful, and the strong state protection enjoyed by French, Japanese and US competitors - barring takeovers of their key players, whilst the UK can't wait to flog off anything and everything, then wondering why we have no strategic industries and a balance of payments crisis.

The book analyses what went wrong, highlights a few isolated successes (eg Rolls Royce, JCB)and ultimately is constructive in showing what we can learn from the many disasters. But the continuing political and City sponsored lack of patriotic backbone and 'sell it off' mentality and short term surrender of market sector by market sector means, and I hate to say it, that the UK is more than likely doomed.
It also discusses the wider issues of educational decline and political/managerial hubris.

The fact is, successful nations grow strong national champion export industries. And without a sea-change in policy to protect and strongly support our own, with clear long term strategies, we will be thrown to the sharks - as an elite handful of vested interested in the City & Westminster continue to get very rich selling out their country in the process.
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Location: Oxford UK

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