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by | 17th, June 2005

‘IT’S not quite up there with “Let them eat cake”, but Margaret Hodge’s claim that redundant Rover workers can always get jobs at Tesco’s is not going to endear her to the masses.

‘Try seeing it less as a trolley and more as a little wire car’

Hodge, the lightweight work and pensions minister, was in conversation with a Wolverhampton newspaper when she offered her views on the regions job market, and the prospects of gainful employment for the skilled men and women released from Rover’s Longbridge car plant.

“Well,” says she in the Telegraph, “they will work all over the place and there is a new brownfield development site in the West Midlands as well. I am saying that some of the jobs are in Tesco and they will meet the needs of some of the unemployed and people looking for work.”

While Sir Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, is right when he says “Just because you were making cars yesterday does not mean that you can make cars tomorrow”, skilled craftsman do not want to be making jam donuts, however delicious they are.

That’s a view elaborated on by Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers union, who regards Hodge’s views as “the comments of an incompetent idiot masquerading as a minister”.

While Hodge considers her own position – and workers listening to her realise that a palpable lack of talent and skill need be no barrier to success – the Times hears from Her Majesty’s Opposition.

“What Margaret Hodge has said is particularly stupid and ill-informed,” says Julie Kirkbridge, Tory MP for Bromsgrove, and serving member of the Rover taskforce.

She then stresses the importance of as many Rover workers as possible remaining in the West Midlands and utilising their engineering skills.

David Willetts, the shadow trade and industry secretary keeps things simple and tells the Telegraph that Hodge has been “rather crass”.

But surely the biggest gaff Hodge makes is to assume that not everyone works for the almighty Tesco already.

And she may yet be forgiven when the supermarket giant follows its forays into insurance, personal finance and utilities with cars on aisle seven…’

Posted: 17th, June 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink