THE GOOD NEWS: CAR SALES UP 13.5% vs 2009

THE BAD NEWS:

This is the last period of the scrappage scheme

It cost the taxpayer £400 million

Not one of the resultant sales was British

I will go to my grave wondering if the cash-for-clunkers car scheme was the greatest automotive con ever perpetrated upon the citizens of any country anywhere, or whether Hitler’s original Volkswagen scheme was maybe worse.

With customary idleness, the media simply reported the motor trade’s (SMMT) press release in full, adding only the equally expected use of puns: ‘Car sales accelerate by 13.5%’, ‘Car sales back in top gear’ and so forth. That no real interrogation of the scheme is apparent anywhere in the Dailies today is important, because the myth is already taking shape on the Left: that ‘the recovery’ was under way and everything would’ve been fine…..if only they’d just let Good Old Gordon carry on.

The truth about these figures is very different from the headlines we’ve seen. First off, even the SMMT’s audit data come with a health warning: this is the last period (April 2010) to include the effects of the scrappage bonanza. We can now expect ‘a dip’ says the motor trade. That’s a euphemism for ‘sales will fall off a cliff’.

Second, the scheme did no good at all to the vast majority of mainstream brands – with the exception of Renault, which discounted heavily (using French taxpayers’ money) throughout. The main brands to gain share were Kia, Nissan, Seat and Skoda….well I never. Volvo also did quite well – but as the chosen vehicle these days of older, wealthier middle class retirees not short of cash, that’s to be expected. And like all good brands, the value of consistent durability-with-style marketing for forty years paid off.

Third – very obviously – not a single vehicle sold was of any benefit to UK plc, because not a single car sold was British-made by a British-owned company. The bottom line of the scheme is that it widened our trade gap by £400 million….all paid for by you and me, the taxpayer.

The scheme was (naturally) enthusiastically embraced by Minister for Funny Business Lord Mandelson – the same man whose local business initiative scheme cost the taxpayer £220 million for precisely zero result.

The clunker scrappage scheme was a smaller but more subtle version of the Rescuing Northern Rock Scheme, which cost a tad more at £80 billion – and was launched with the sole aim of saving three constituencies for New Labour. In fact, seen in that light, the old-bangers scam was a far less expensive way to buy votes. And anyway, top of this Bribery Premiership was always going to be the Public Sector Jobs for All Initiative…never hailed or heralded as such, but enough to ensure a Parliament hung by the self-interest of getting on for 44% of the population.

Myths develop quickly, especially when the likes of Mandelson and Whelan are involved. If this isn’t enough to explain why the British voter was duped on May 7th, nothing ever will be.