So Land Rover are going on a four day week.

LR2Haven't we been here before? I've been doing rather a lot of thinking and writing about the dark, grim days of the 1970s.

I've been musing about power cuts, petrol rationing and Red Robbo because my new book, The British Car Industry - Our Part in its Downfall, will be out a couple of weeks and I hope to shamelessly plug it over the coming months - the ideal Xmas present for you and your loved one - before Autocar gets fed up and sacks me.

The parallels between the early 1970s and now are quite startling and, yes, I know that it was an Edward Heath-inspired three-day, rather than four-day week. We certainly have the same external factors making our economy a bit depressed, which includes Middle Eastern conflicts and rising fuel prices. But just as our government didn't really help matters back then by corralling UK car makers into one big unhappy family called British Leyland, politicians have been meddling again.

Land Rover cite the lowering of demand for the sort of vehicles they are famous for because the government, their advisors and pet focus groups have all indentified Land Rovers as ugly, CO2-unfriendly beasts and then gone on to retrospectively tax them to the hilt.

Land Rovers is what we are good at, and the world likes them too, but unless it is a Hybrid, or completely battery powered, which would get a Defender no further than the end of your street, it is enemy. The government seemed to overlook the fact that the people who make them have proper jobs rather than being outreach community co-ordinators. For the moment anyway. And for a short-term enviro-feelgood factor they are willing to let them go to the wall.

Today it's a four-day week, then it will be three days, followed by the silence as the factory shuts. Here is the second great downfall of British manufacturing and we are watching it happen and doing nothing about it.