Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Hidden Europe

Britain's last train making company Bombardier announces 1,400 job cuts, says the Failygraph, as the government decides to award a lucrative carriage order for the Thameslink route to Siemens of Germany rather than to Derby-based Bombardier.

A consortium led by Bombardier had been competing with one led by Siemens of Germany for a contract for 1,200 new carriages as part of a £6 billion upgrade of the Thameslink route, which runs from Bedford to Brighton through London. With most of its other contracts due to finish in September this year, the contract was vital for Bombardier's future.

Of course, transport minister and ex MEP Theresa Villiers says the bid by Siemens, which will build the new carriages in Germany, represented the "best value for money for taxpayers" and claims that the contract would create up to 2,000 new UK jobs.

How very different this was two years ago when our Theresa was outraged by the government's decision to award a £7.5 billion contract to replace ageing high-speed trains on the Great Western and East Coast main lines.

Bombardier also lost out on that one, that time to a consortium led by the Japanese firm Hitachi, called Agility Trains, which included John Laing and Barclays Bank.

Then as now, the government said the contract would "create and safeguard" UK jobs, claiming 12,500 would benefit. But the then shadow transport minister, who just happened to be Theresa Villiers, dismissed this as "typical spin" from the government.

"This announcement raises further questions about Gordon Brown's claims about British jobs for British workers. Geoff Hoon needs to stop the spin and tell the UK's hard pressed train manufacturing industry the real truth about his decision on replacing intercity trains," she stormed.

Then, however, the fair Villiers did not have to confront the "real truth" - the realities of the EU's procurement directives, which prevent British firms being favoured, even if it is more economic in the longer term.

And it rather stuffs IDS's call British for businesses to employ more young Britons instead of immigrants, when the transport secretary is not allowed to give British (based) businesses the work that will allow them to employ them.

So, while "hidden Europe" bites the hand that feeds it, Villiers says not a word about the diktats of her masters. Instead, she "empathises" with the "anguish" of the City of Derby, where Bombardier has just announced the first tranche of 200 job losses. But there is not the slightest thing she will do to stop it.

Aren't we are soooooooooo lucky that Britain is a member of the European Union. What would we do without it?