As someone who has owned three Rovers and for a long time tried wherever possible to buy British products, and as someone who was also initially hopeful about New Labour, I wonder whether there aren't parallels between the two stories.

As someone who has owned three Rovers and for a long time tried wherever possible to buy British products, and as someone who was also initially hopeful about New Labour, I wonder whether there aren't parallels between the two stories.

In the early days of both, I ignored disturbing behaviour that I didn't want to believe. With the collapsed MG Rover, it was the treacherous treatment of its erstwhile partner, Honda; there seemed to be a perfect synergy between the two companies which was thrown away when BMW offered a way for the owners and managers to make quick money. With New Labour, it was Peter Mandelson's moustache.

Then, just as some people said in the honeymoon period that Blair and Brown were just acting like Tories-lite so that they could get elected, then afterwards would reveal themselves in their true socialist colours, so many said that Rover management was simply driving BMW mad with its erratic behaviour, in order that once it was free of the Germans, it could disclose itself as an efficient, innovative, British car-maker.

The blinkers came off for me with New Labour at the moment it said it would go ahead with The Dome; in that instant, I saw I'd been fooling myself and that it wasn't new, different, pragmatic or ethical. The Dome showed it was exactly the same bunch of vain, hubristic idiots as the last lot.

MG Rover's Dome was the CityRover; as soon as I read that it was planning to import a hatchback car from India - the Tata Indica - and was hoping to try to charge well over £8,000 for this piece of late-Eighties technology, I knew that MG Rover was identical to Austin Rover and British Leyland before it.

Its tactic in the past had always been rather than to build good-value, stylish vehicles, instead to take the lazy way out and stick a Rover, Wolsey or Triumph badge on a dull, ordinary motor and try to charge 50 per cent too much for it; so it was with the Tata Indica.

Now we don't have to even feel a little bit guilty over buying a foreign car. Unfortunately, the same isn't true for the Government; we seem somehow to be stuck with the CityBlair. I wonder whether, just as we can now freely buy German or French or Japanese, it wouldn't be possible to get in our leaders from abroad. Is there some way I could perhaps vote for Spain's genuinely socialist Zapatero government in the upcoming election? Or maybe I could choose Japan's prime minister Koizumi for my leader? At least he's got fine hair and a nice smile.

So, does the inevitable collapse of MG Rover Group mean that it is impossible for a wholly British company to build motor vehicles successfully? Well, perhaps not.

The other day, I was walking past a row of parking spaces in my neighbourhood and in every one of the six slots I noticed there was a stylish, good-value, well-engineered machine that was made in the UK by a British-owned company. Its a long time since this could have happened with car-parking spaces, but it was a motorcycle bay I was passing and the machines were all Triumph motorcycles.

Somehow Triumph, with no fuss, no drama, no government handouts, no foreign support, has managed over the past 15 years or so to produce and market a large range of wonderfully diverse machines: the Daytona, the Speed Triple, the Tiger Trailbike, which are as good as anything from Japan or Germany.

Triumph has chosen to make motorcycles that compete on all levels with the opposition - innovation, appearance, style and price - rather than try to overcharge for dull, out-of-date machines, as Rover did.

So, how has Triumph avoided the problems of MG Rover? It seems to have something to do with the motorcycle manufacturer starting from the ground up and thus avoiding the poisonous legacy of British engineering - the snobbery, the unimaginitive thinking, the short-termism.

Maybe we could do the same with our Government: throw out all the politicians and bring in leaders from an entirely new field - writer/columnist/comedians perhaps?

motoring@independent.co.uk

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