A good old West Country boy stuffed it up the Armada when mighty Spain thought it would chance its arm and we saw off Boney at Waterloo – albeit with a bit of Prussian intervention.So, clearly incapable of conquering us at anything other than football, these foreign Johnnies have turned their attention to commerce. They’re attacking the soft under-bellies of our former building societies – with what results? Abbey was the first to have its ears presented to the matador. It now lies eviscerated by the flamenco financiers of Banco Santander Central Hispano. Out with pretty pastel colours that promised to turn the world of banking on its head – they certainly turned me nauseous – and in with the highest level of consumer complaints against a single bank since time immemorial, according to the Daily Mail, so it must be true. And not content with revamping Shabby Abbey (when in reality it was anything but) we’re told that Santander is clicking its castanets at Alliance & Leicester. But while we Rosbifs might not be up for the fight it seems that the snail munchers are determined the paella eaters shan’t have it all their own way this time. The spirit of Bonaparte clearly lives on and Cr裩t Agricole is being heavily tipped to be shaping up to give the Spaniards the Elba. So my dears, should we frankly give a damn? With the vogue for globalisation the answer is probably no. So why do I? Is it because I really have turned into my father, or that my patriotism has turned into xenophobia? Or perhaps I’ve watched so much television that I’ve been subliminally seduced by the influence of the Grumpy Old Men. A more likely cause is that I lament the passing of British values. And it’s probably not the foreigners who have set us on this path at all. Many of our home-grown commercial institutions are guilty of having lost sight of their raisons d’鳲e. They have abandoned their focus on purpose for an obsessive concentration on profit. And while it’s naive to suggest this isn’t important, is it really so naive to ask how much profit is enough? In truth, if our financial institutions don’t sell out to foreign competition, they import foreign nationals to run themselves anyway, so maybe I’m tilting at windmills. But the fact is I’ve seen little evidence of improved customer offerings or better service as a consequence of some snake-hipped Latino or gum-chewing Yank being shipped in. Have you? Come on British management – fight back.
At the risk of sounding like my father, I can remember when we all took pride in British workmanship and British companies doing well. I can even remember Bruce Forsyth and a gaggle of the vaudeville brigade all \'Backing Britain\'. So where did it all go poire-shaped?