British Leyland – The Grand Illusion
Ian Nicholls, AROnline’s historian-in-residence, follows up his excellent run-down of the British Motor Holdings story with a five-part account of the British Leyland years from 1974 to 1977.
PART ONE : EXPORT OR DIE AROnline contains many stories of botched decisions, cars that never were and wrong turnings. However, perhaps the real reason why the British-owned motor industry collapsed so rapidly post-1945, was the socio-political environment it had to co-exist in.
PART TWO : OWNED BY THE PEOPLE ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE On 6 December 1974, Tony Benn, now Trade and Industry Minister, announced to Parliament that, ‘Discussions have been taking place with the company regarding both its short-term requirements for working capital and its long-term investment programme.
PART THREE : A JOB FOR LIFE? By August 1975 the concept that the Ryder Report was gospel was called into question. Now the All-Party Commons Trade and Industry Sub-Committee called into question the financial and organisational foundations of the new state-owned British Leyland Limited.
PART FOUR : MELTDOWN British Leyland’s self-destruction continued into 1977. At first the main trouble stemmed from the Castle Bromwich body plant, which had a dire productivity record. A strike there soon crippled production at Leyland Cars.
PART FIVE : ENTER THE MAN FROM CHLORIDE On the day Michael Edwardes became British Leyland Chairman, 1 November 1977, some 1500 workers at Triumph, Speke Number Two, walked out only a few hours after they had resumed work.