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Lord Mandelson today unveiled  financial aid to the UK’s car industry worth £2.3 billion following major job losses at manufacturers such as Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Lord Mandelson (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons - World Economic Forum)

Lord Mandelson (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons - World Economic Forum)

But whilst he admitted that the industry had fallen “further and faster” than any other in the country during the current financial crisis he also, rather contradictorily, said that the car industry was no “lame duck” and that the package was not a bailout.

But neither these protestations nor the emphasis he made in his announcement on using the package to help the industry become greener can disguise the fact that this was indeed another case of emergency state funding to a crisis-hit sector of the economy.

Indeed, the Government’s insistence on presenting this announcement as far from a bailout seems to have influenced the amount of aid it has decided to give, with some commentators speculating that only a package worth up to £13 billion would have been sufficient to avert catastrophe.

The car industry employs almost a million workers in the UK and is thus a valuable sector of the economy.  It would perhaps have made more sense for the Government to have mustered the courage to admit that the package did indeed represent further state aid to the private sector, and in doing so it should have provided much more substantial aid to the sector which would arguably save thousands more jobs.

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