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conversazioni fittizie: Peter Mandelson and Tata

CoNet Administrator

TATA group has succeeded in getting Peter Mandelson to hand over British taxpayer's money. We weren't at any of the meetings and so we've made up a satire.

TATA : Hey, there Mandy. Nice to see you've come back from Europe. Guess you met some nice Indians there. Neat trick getting Chinese textiles subject to quota so no-one noticed the huge amount coming into Europe from India.

Mandelson: yes, I almost didn't pull that one off: but the Chinese were so busy laughing at the terrible deal I did that they didn't feel they needed to point out the obvious flaw in my plan.

And I made a friend, the Indian Trade Minister, Kamal Nath. I'm sure we can do business.

TATA: ah, yes. Business. Look, here's the thing. We've bought Jaguar / Land Rover from Ford. We knew sales were low and costs were high but I know that you would not want another Rover on your hands. After all, you've managed to delay the report into that collapse.

Mandelson: yes, we're going to blame the former owners, make headlines about how much they took out of the business as salary and bonuses, but not let on how much money they actually stuffed into Rover to take it over and get it going. So we should be OK on that one.

TATA, well, we paid USD2.3 bil for JLR. Now, obviously, we could just use our reserves but I think the best thing would be if you gave us a grant to tide us over this rough patch. Say GBP2 bil?

Mandelson: so you want me to arrange a non-refundable payment that more or less covers the price you paid?

TATA: well, if you put it like that it sounds a bit dubious. You could call it a necessary support for the workforce, then you look like a good socialist.

Mandelson: ah, so what you are saying is that if we give you taxpayer money, it will benefit my party?

TATA: Yes.

Mandelson: well, that's not going to work. Whether we win the next election depends on how much we can hoodwink the electorate over the state of the economy.

TATA: but, JLR is based in the West Midlands. There are lots of Indians there, and nearby. They would think it very good of your party to be helping an Indian owned business.

Mandelson: look, its a great idea but no matter how gullible they are, the British electorate has a memory at least a little better than a goldfish. And they have not forgotten the Hinduja situation. Sorry TATA, I can't help you.

Several months later

TATA: Mandy, TATA here. Look, I've got another plan. I'm announcing the closure of a TATA steel plant in Wales. Lots of jobs to go. Give us money.

Mandelson: I really, really can't do that. We're giving shedloads of money to our pals who run the banks. I'm really working flat out trying to find a way to turn that into a capitalist plot that we can blame the next Conservative government for. The taxpayer won't stand for dishing out yet more money to a foreign company.

Two weeks later

Mandelson: Hello, TATA. Let me guess, you've closed the Wales thing.

TATA: not quite yet. We're upping the ante. We're going to close Redcar. That's just down the road from where you and your pal Tony had your country seats, wasn't it.

Mandelson: not country seats, exactly. Although Tony's place is a bit manorial, I suppose. But it's true that Redcar is close to our constituencies. Why would you close it?

TATA: because you won't give us any money. I want you to give us 2 billion.

Mandelson: I'll arrange for a government loan of around 175 million pounds as a "bridging loan."

TATA: Give us a gov. guarantee of loans of around £850 million. You can get around a third of it from the European Investment Bank.

Mandelson: no can do, me old mucka, that wouldn't be pukka. Did you see what I did there? A little ethnic joke to break the tension..

TATA. Well bugger you, then Mandy; your offer's not very handy. See, I can turn my hand to a little sub-cultural humour, too.

[ TATA announced it had raised a substantial figure direct from banks.]

September 2009.

Mandelson: Good news, TATA. I'm spinning a jobs-creation story in the West Midlands. What's your R&D budget in the UK?

TATA: 35 million.

Mandelson: OK, I'll get 10 million to you, and you say you'll put in 25 million. We have to say it's to do the research on a TATA electric car. Yes, of course it would be cheaper to send all the Indian students from Wolverhampton Poly or whatever it calls itself these days to India to work and it would create jobs in India. But, hey, it's nice to help out an old pal.

TATA. 10 million.

Mandelson: yes.

TATA: it won't save Redcar and it won't save Wales, you know.

Mandelson: yes, but we can see those as safe seats; the chances of the thickies in those regions working out what we've done are nil. But there is more chance of a swing in the West Midlands, particularly as the recession tightens and migrant labour is coming back into the mix for some voters.

TATA: Oh, so a lot of it is about Coventry?

Mandelson: well, that's where your R&D for this is said to be.

TATA: well, we won't send you to Coventry. Ha Ha.

Mandelson: thank you. The West Midlands, Ugh. Thy spaek fuhny, thaer. Oi don't loike it.

TATA: Was that supposed to be Indian?

Mandelson: God no. I wouldn't dare. It was making fun of the English. We've set up the law so that anyone can take the piss out of the English and it's not racist. Can't mention sheep shagging Welshmen, though.

TATA: So you think that I can get the Indian voters out to support your party?

Mandelson: well, yes. You and Kamal. A word from you would go a long way. By the way, just one slight snag. It's a loan, not a grant. But also it's not a guarantee.

TATA: A loan? You mean we have to pay it back?

Mandelson: well, that rather depends on the outcome of the next election. We can probably lose it somewhere, or convert it to a grant somehow without anyone really noticing. But if we lose, there's no doubt: you'll have to repay the money, with interest.

TATA: what if we just fold it and move the work to India.

Mandelson: Ah, do a de Lorean, you mean?

TATA: yes, sort of.

Mandelson: well, if the IP in new development is owned by TATA Motors in India, and all the equipment likewise, then there will be no actual assets in the UK. If TATA Motors and HMG lend their money to a newly set up company, that goes bust, then there's nothing we can do. Unless we have guarantees.

TATA: you have my word.

Mandelson. Then on the basis that I have your word, but you have not said precisely what I have your word on, and being prepared for being accused of being stupid again, I think we have a deal.

TATA: nice doing business with you.

Mandelson: and with you. I look forward to hearing that nice things have been written about us in the Indian press and that those still in India should be grateful their relatives in the UK live under Labour.