Column Eight: Thatcher lays down new roots

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The Independent Online
Nice to know that Baroness Thatcher is commemorating those momentous events of five years ago when hurricanes blew, foundations were uprooted and the landscape changed for ever. And even nicer to know she is doing something to repair the damage.

Are we talking about the great stock market crash of October 1987? Are we musing on a new economic salvation plan that our Lady of Grantham has up her sleeve? We are not. She Who Would Not Turn spent yesterday planting an oak sapling at Chartwell to celebrate the recovery of National Trust gardens and parks since the Great Storm. Presumably she can shelter under it while waiting for the country to call her back.

The Department of Trade and Industry should be careful how it words its press announcements. 'Small firms are gateways to growth, says minister,' was one offering this week. 'Gateways to growth' doesn't sound right somehow, given that chain's well publicised difficulties. It should surely have plumped for Sainsbury or Tesco.

Ingvar Kamprad-spotters are expected to be out in force in the Dutch town of Delft a fortnight today. The reclusive Swedish billionaire, who founded the Ikea furnishings empire, is due to put in one of his extremely rare public appearances.

He will be presenting the annual awards sponsored by his Stichting Ingka foundation - each of the winners will pick up a share of 600,000 guilders ( pounds 221,400) and a trophy.

And, with timely tact in view of the recent purchase by the foundation of the Habitat group, a British architect is included in the six - Ralph Erskine, who lives and works in Sweden.

Oh dear. You really know the country's in trouble when someone resurrects the I'm Backing Britain campaign.

Now that George Brown has gone to the great Department of Economic Affairs in the sky, joined more recently by that great patriot Robert Maxwell ('I only rob British pensioners' - that was your catchphrase), step forward M P Renshaw, of Plymouth, with his 'British Pride' campaign.

Exhorting us all to buy British cars, household appliances and 'home entertainment equipment', Mr Renshaw asks: 'Can YOU be proud to be British if you buy foreign products?' I would leave his phone number for you to deliver the answer, but I'm sure he'd hate to hear from you on a foreign-made instrument.