A Kraft takeover of Cadbury would be like Arthur Daley being put in charge of a Premiership football club, Hall Green MP Steve McCabe told a union rally.
The Labour MP, whose constituency borders the Bournville factory, went on the attack against the US food giant at the launch of the Unite union campaign to keep the chocolate maker independent.
He told workers, union officials and other supporters at the Cadbury Club: “Cadbury is under threat because it is a highly successful company. They have been offered a pig in a poke.
“Kraft want access to the markets that Cadbury have. They are going to climb on your back and take advantage of that. It is a bit like having a Premiership football club and letting Arthur Daley take control.”
Selly Oak MP Lynne Jones said: “I hope that Peter Mandelson is no longer extremely relaxed about people getting stinking rich. Hostile bids like Kraft are only of benefit to asset-strippers, accountants, bankers and lawyers. We have got an excellent company here. Cadbury is one of our best and most important manufacturers. We want to see them remain a British company.
“The danger is that Kraft could come back with a more attractive offer to shareholders. If Kraft overreach themselves and take on extra loans Cadbury will be saddled with these loans for years to come. Let’s fight to keep one of our best British companies British.”
Bournville plant convenor John Flavin said: “We are here today to send a signal to Kraft and the shareholders of Cadbury that we want to stay independent. We are very concerned about the Kraft bid.
“I know the workforce here, I know they feel very strongly about this. We appeal to shareholders: “Do not go for short-term returns – go for long-term growth.”
Gerard Coyne, Unite regional secretary, warned that Cadbury could follow in the footsteps of the likes of HP Sauce under Heinz, Peugeot’s Ryton plant at Coventry and LDV.
“Where there has been a takeover, major decisions are taken outside the UK and jobs are cut in the West Midlands. We need to make sure that Cadbury stays independent.”
The Mail is backing the union fight, which was today due to lobby MPs at the House of Commons for support against the £10.1 billion hostile takeover.
A petition to keep Cadbury British is hosted on a dedicated website www.welovecadbury.com. Mail readers are being asked to sign the website petition to help block the Kraft bid.