VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 9/26/2011
Bankers are arseholes. You don't need me to tell you; but these people who send letters saying that you're 2p overdrawn and then charge you £20 for it are even worse than you imagine, for they are the reason why we no longer have a British bike industry. Many words have been written about why the last British bike industry died, but that was then and this is now. Have you ever seriously wondered why bike factories aren't sprouting up all over the country, from Durham to Essex, just like they used to? Is it a lack of talented engineers? It can't be - we have plenty of world-class engineers now working on cars, aircraft, or weapons systems. Is it because no-one is interested in bikes in this country? Do we lack skilled craftsmen or top businessmen? No way. In this country, we have Aston Martin, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, TVR, and Lotus producing great cars, so why can't we have Norton, Scott, Velocette, HRD, Rudge, Matchless, and others knocking out bikes? When you consider that Wops can't make racing cars worth a damn (Formula 1 Ferraris are "Made In England" by British engineers and craftsmen) then why aren't the Midlands of the UK like Northern Italy, with Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Cagiva, Ducati, Bimota, and the rest? The answer is that Italians don't have short-sighted pillocks for bankers. Banks will throw tens of millions at crooked spivs like Robert Maxwell, or spotty geeks with absolutely nothing to show for themselves apart from ".com" after their names, but if you're an honest businessman with real pride in doing a proper job, they won't want to know. If you want to finance a small business venture through a bank, the first thing they will ask is "Do you own a house?" They don't give a toss about what you're trying to achieve or how many jobs you can create or how much money you will make, they just want to get their hands on your biggest asset the minute things start going against you. When I overheard management meetings in Japan, it wasn't unusual to hear discussions like "where will this decision take us in 25 years?" For convenience, 10 years was a more normal chunk for a business plan. Think of Mr Honda, and his decision to go racing - no joke for a Jap in those days, since "racing" really meant "Isle of Man" and he had to send teams round the world to compete. It took a decade for that decision to come right. Quite a contrast to the UK, where no matter how far-sighted a businessman may be, the bank will have his earoles for ashtrays if he doesn't deliver during the next quarter. Here, going racing isn't a great crusade towards future excellence; the only way you can get out to race at all is by painting your fairing like a chocolate bar one season, and a packet of fags the next. This is why CCM are condemned to be forever struggling. No matter how good the bikes are (and let me add, quite gratuitously at this point, that they are utterly brilliant, well-designed, well-made, and well-sorted, and I'd definitely buy one if I had room in my shed) CCM are living hand-to-mouth, and they are never going to be able to invest to build their own engines, or to get big enough to achieve economies of scale like their rivals, because the banks aren't going to help them. It wouldn’t surprise me if CCM's bankers are upset that the firm is doing so well, simply because they can’t get their hands on the bosses' houses. This is where Mr Bloor scores - he doesn't buy houses, he builds them, and sells them to people like bank managers. Though we don't have a British bike industry, we do have a British bike factory. The only reason this factory exists is that the proprietor paid to set it up out of his own pocket, and didn't have to borrow the money from a bank. Mr Bloor can take the long view, and keep pumping money into his factory - and hence the British motorcycle industry - without counting on a payback in three months. Ffankyou, sir, and Gawd bless you. Have you ever noticed how we have many good businesses in this country, and the one thing they all have in common is that they don't need banks? Finance, e-commerce, fashion, music, motor racing - all can be set up on a shoestring. For example, if you want to start a magazine, you only need a computer, some talent, and one month's printing costs - that's all. (It's also why you can never write in to say you think FB is crap - if you're so clever, why not do your own comic? You can even put numbers on the pages). Or, take F1 car teams - their business, fundamentally, is to design and run racing cars using OPM (other people's money). They don't actually have to sell the cars, but they are paid for them anyway. Their operating capital doesn't come from banks, it comes from sponsors - just showing what great things you can do if bankers don't get involved; these asinine, cost-cutting leeches who keep closing down branches because they say the customers don't visit them. Tell me, how many customers would visit a theatre if it closed at 5pm? Aha, you say, but what about all of those car factories I mentioned? Well, they are foreign-owned apart from TVR, whose boss (Mr Peter Wheeler) is a sort of John Bloor on four wheels. Of course, foreign- owned means that profits from the expertise of British workers go straight abroad. Think of the Phoenix bid for Longbridge - financed by Americans after all the UK banks had turned them down flat. When Rover makes a profit, it will be American bankers who benefit – and good luck to ’em. Unlike our lot, they’ve got brains, and they've got balls.
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