Mars cars?

Published on June 3, 2015


Imagine if you will a scenario where Mars, a long-standing family business which has purveyed sweets, then drinks, uses its significant resources to make cars. “We have management expertise and cash and we can adapt our branding ‘use Mars every day to work rest and go to the shops’ ”.

It wouldn’t work would it? We all know that Mars isn’t like that. So why does the Labour Party think that it can change its brand message and get buy-in to anything it chooses to say? Without changing its foundations it will shrink as its Union paymasters do, as surely as eggs are the means of production over which hens have control.

UKIP succeeds because its core principles appeal to some people. As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, it’s a hedgehog: it knows one thing and sticks to it. Until the Labour Party can be clear in what it stands for, and have a constitution and vision that are aligned, it will struggle to be Great, even though it may be prickly.

But how to get there? I suggest that it starts by being good in Parliament, scrutinising legislation and making constructive suggestions for its improvement that are fairer and protect minorities better. Using the crucible of the House of Commons, with its heated debating chamber, it can forge an identity that can then be used to attract supporters who will become its foundations in the country.

At some stage it needs to “lose the drummer”. Following the rhythm of the Trades Unions is out of step with the world of to-day, and whilst their funds may seem attractive they don’t always guarantee success. Sometimes the most difficult decisions must be taken before progress is made. Gordon Durham & Co survived in the ‘80s and ‘90s by being a house builder as well as a building contractor. Whilst both activities look the same to outsiders – buildings are buildings – the approach to each activity is markedly different. It was only when we stopped being a house builder that we could excel at being a leading regional contractor who won prizes outside of the building sector and were adjudged more innovative than Autonomy plc.

I sold that business and cut my ties with the area in 2008. But I still watch its fortunes especially the football clubs. I can’t help noticing Newcastle United’s decline, maybe another example of how wealthy backers don’t always let organisations realise their Premiership aspirations? Now if they could get the former MP for Sedgefield, a noted supporter, as chairman…