Not for nothing is Lord Mandelson renowned for his prowess in the dark art of spin: the expected bailout of Jaguar Land Rover is so far being politically stage-managed to absolute perfection.
It is pretty clear that the Business Secretary has been minded from the start to offer Britain's car industry state support, probably in the form of short-term bridging loans. But Mandelson also knew the idea would be a tough sell. Workers in other industries whose jobs are under threat will be put out if they don't get the same sort of help, and the Treasury is also concerned about the danger of setting a precedent.
Cue some tough talk from Mandelson at the weekend, particularly on the issue of Tata, the Indian conglomerate which owns Jaguar and which might reasonably be expected to provide additional finance to its UK subsidiary. And within a matter of hours, Tata and Lord Mandelson were quietly letting it be known that Jaguar's parent company would stump up some cash before expecting the Government to step in – indeed it already seems to have done so.
You can take it as read that Tata wouldn't be offering its own cash unless it had very much been given the impression that Government money will be forthcoming in the new year. Meanwhile, Mandelson gets to crow about how tough he has been with the Indian company, and provides himself – and the Treasury – with an argument to head off calls for help from other cash-strapped companies that don't meet the sort of tough tests he is setting Tata and Jaguar. All those Labour MPs with marginal seats in the west Midlands home of the car sector should be very grateful.Reuse content