Letter: Don't mention the war

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The Independent Online
Sir: Half-way through his critique of the sale of Rover to BMW ('Britain's industrial Dunkirk', 21 February), Stephen Bush anticipates with regret 'an enhanced flow of our ablest young people to serve German, not British, industry'. By the time I reached the end of his article, I had come to the conclusion that such a development might not be a bad thing.

Mr Bush's contention that 'our country desperately needs a victory in the intense industrial war fought daily around the world' and his Ridleyesque claim that the British Aerospace board has 'handed us another Dunkirk' are offensive and hopelessly anachronistic. BMW is not the Wehrmacht, and its boss Bernd Pischetsrieder (born after the war) is not risking pounds 800m of his company's money simply to cock a snook at Britain as it gears up for the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

Able young Britons working in Germany may well have noticed that Opel is not only a very competitive and highly innovative company, but also one whose considerable success has something to do with its 'made in Germany' sales pitch and its advertising link with the national sporting heroine Steffi Graf.

Yet Opel has been in American hands for more than 60 years. It is surely this encouraging example, rather than the outdated, bellicose rhetoric of the Second World War, which should be at the centre of discussion about the Rover takeover.

Fortunately, Rover itself is aware that the very Britishness of the marque is now one of its best selling points in Germany. A couple of weeks after the sale to BMW was announced, Rover ran a national press advertising campaign for the 620Si saloon, using the slogan 'Understatement in seiner unverschamtesten form' ('Understatement in its most shameless form').

Yours faithfully,

DAVID HEAD

Senior Lecturer in German

University of Bath, Bath

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