ObservationsBMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39381.648681.47 (Published 01 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:913
- Nigel Hawkes, health editor, the Times
- The NHS stifles the entrepreneur in us all
Here's a puzzle. How did Britain lose its motoring industry at the same time as it came to dominate motor racing? This may seem a long way from the politics of health, but bear with me: there is a parallel.
Racing cars are the cutting edge of vehicle engineering, a testbed for new ideas. In the 1950s and 60s the designs of John Cooper and Colin Chapman transformed Grand Prix motor racing. From this emerged a small and dynamic industry—Lotus, McLaren, Lola, Williams, Cosworth, among others—that had no need of government advice or sponsorship. These companies quickly became a dominant force in racing car design and, 30 years or more later, remain extraordinarily influential. It was to a British designer, Ross Brawn, that Ferrari turned to transform its fortunes in the 1990s.
Yet this coincided with the long death of the motor industry in Britain. Foreign manufacturers have set up plants successfully, so vehicle production is still important to the UK economy. But of Morris, Austin, Hillman Humber, and even Rover—once names that rolled off the tongue like battle honours—we hear no …