Perspective: Why Buying This Car Made Me Feel Good; When Is a Car Purchase a Patriotic Gesture? Steve Curtis Explains His Buy British Philosophy

The Birmingham Post (England), March 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

Perspective: Why Buying This Car Made Me Feel Good; When Is a Car Purchase a Patriotic Gesture? Steve Curtis Explains His Buy British Philosophy


Byline: Steve Curtis

Young as I like to think I am, I can still remember the days when Buying British was a political issue. More than a marketing ploy, it attracted the support of trade unions and chief executives alike and was the hallmark of every patriotic company.

These days, with the remnants of the Rover car company being tossed around like so much rotten fruit, it's east to forget that such an era ever existed. In a global economy, products are sold on their own merit and places of origin are there to be ignored.

And it is against this background that I decided to astonish my friends and confess that I had bought my own car, secure in the knowledge that it would still be made in England. The MGTF is the closest thing to a British Roadster still to be churned out in any volume and I decided to go for red.

That being said, I wouldn't want to be portrayed as a martyr. It's a promising little machine and for the money it's one of the few sports cars I could have considered. But before you laugh at my motives, try to envisage the consequences of declining car sales for British manufacturing and the people that work in it. Money circulates. When Keynsian philosophy ruled the roost, everyone understood that. If we buy a product made in one of our own factories, wealth is passed on from shop keeper to worker to share holder. The same process occurs today, but after the shop keeper has taken his cut, most of the other jobs are taken abroad. Recent revelations from the motor industry have confirmed that over 75% of new registrations in the UK represent imported vehicles.

And yet the national mood remains quiescent. As more and more of us holiday in exotic locations and buy our textiles from Turkey and Morocco the 'Buy British' slogan has begun to sound outdated.

There are a lot of times in life when you seem to be given control. In reality, there are almost none. Even our most cherished democratic right, that of slipping a ballot paper into a box, requires a substantial suspension of disbelief. Where ever you put your cross the result of the election will be the same. But when you buy a new car, for a brief moment you find yourself in a position of control. Because the difference between buying a British assembled car and a foreign machine is the difference between work and dole for four people for one year.

The outcome of that purchasing decision will ultimately determine a year in the lives of four families. No-one can ever tell you their names. …

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