Show Hide image

Kraft apologises for closing Cadbury plant

US food giant Kraft Foods has said it is "truly sorry" over its broken promise to save a Cadbury fac

Kraft said the pledge it made on keeping the factory open was made "in good faith".

Senior Kraft executive Marc Firestone made the humiliating public apology to MPs at a parliamentary select committee hearing, which is investigating Kraft's u-turn over the future of the former Cadbury plant.

Prior to Kraft agreeing to take over Cadbury in January, the Somerdale plant had been earmarked for closure by the UK chocolate maker. Kraft however vowed to keep the factory open despite the fact that the process to close the facility had already been set in motion to shift production to Poland.

Kraft came under heavy fire from British MPs who expressed incredulity over Firestone's assertion that Kraft felt it could keep the plant open. The Kraft executive however promised that the company would not close any more of its UK factories for at least the next two years.

Official complaints against Kraft's "misleading" statements have been made by unions and local politicians to the City's Takeover Panel which is responsible for regulating takeovers and mergers.

The US group said it had no plans to rename Cadbury's UK brands and would continue to produce Dairy Milk at its factory in Bournville.
Kraft will also continue to be a sponsor for the 2012 Olympic Games under the Cadbury brand name.

Show Hide image

Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.