Haven't heard a peep from the green lobby yet on August's sales figures collapse, but I suspect they'll be smugly pleased, even though tens of thousands of jobs are at risk in the car industry.

52606kia I'd also like to know what mandarins in the Treasury, DfT and trade department, the architects of bountiful anti-car legislation, regulation and initiatives, are really thinking as they watch one of the country's prime income generators struggle away.

Is it too much to hope that both officials and greenies might feel at least a twinge of remorse that their actions are helping to depress economic activity and put jobs at risk? Of course it is. As Autocar has written many times before, the car industry generates billions for the UK economy and supports millions of families, two vital facts consistently ignored by our government and anti-car pressure groups who don't give a hoot.

We have to hope the industry is resilient enough to withstand this downturn on its own, although the long-term trend is worrying. Year-end sales are predicted to be down about four per cent, equal to a market of around 2.35m new cars - still a historically high level. But the general trend since 2004 has been downwards.

There's some interesting historical perspective on this - August's sales figures are worse than those in 1966, the SMMT tells us.

That year is more memorable in car circles as the one when British Motor Holdings was formed - the grim moment when Jaguar joined Austin, Morris, Riley and Wolseley in an unholy alliance that two years later turned into the shambles that was British Leyland.

One of the main reasons August 1966 suffered a sales slump was down to continuous government fiddling with the terms of credit and hire purchase, which was centrally controlled back then.

Seven changes between 1965 and 1967 left new car buyers dazed and confused. Another parallel with today - the reason for government fiddling with consumer credit in the mid-60s was the new Labour government blundering around to extricate the country from economic woes.

Sound familiar?