Geoffrey Robinson, multi-millionaire Labour MP for Coventry North-west and close friend of Gordon Brown, will be more acutely aware than many of his colleagues of the calamitous impact the closure of Jaguar Land Rover would have on the government’s fortunes.
Mr Robinson was appointed chief executive of Jaguar in 1973, at the age of 34. Two years later, following the bankruptcy of British Leyland, he was out of a job.
A year after that, in 1976, Robinson was selected in a blaze of publicity to stand for Labour at a by-election in Coventry North-west – the constituency that had at its heart the Jaguar Browns Lane car plant.
The gaffer gets elected by the lads on the track, was the way the newspapers put it.
Years of uncertainty followed for the once proud name of luxury British motoring.
And in March 2006, 30 years after Robinson entered parliament, Jaguar, then owned by Ford, announced it was to cease production in Coventry and close Brown’s Lane with the loss of 1,100 jobs.
Across the other side of the city a month later, Peugeot confirmed it would close its Ryton plant, with the loss of 2,300 jobs.
The truth is even Mr Robinson cannot assume he is absolutely safe at the next election.
With a majority of almost 10,000 to overcome, the Conservatives require a swing of 11 per cent – a turnaround difficult to achieve at a General Election, even in the light of this government’s unpopularity.
The collapse of JLR, which would lead to an estimated 75,000 jobs disappearing across the West Midlands, is just the sort of event that could put two or three more percentage points on the anti-Labour sentiment among working class voters.
In Warwick and Leamington, home to Jaguar’s Gaydon research and development unit and corporate headquarters, MP James Plaskitt appears doomed whatever happens. Mr Plaskitt, benefit fraud minister, has one of the smallest majorities of a Labour MP, just 266.
In Redditch, home secretary Jacqui Smith will be lucky to survive even if a government rescue package for JLR can be agreed. Business minister Ian Pearson will not be feeling comfortable in Dudley South, where a 5.5 per cent swing would be enough to take the seat.
A raft of other West Midlands constituencies where Tory candidates need swings of between one and six per cent include Stourbridge, Stafford, Birmingham Edgbaston, Nuneaton, Staffordshire Moorlands, Tamworth, Wolverhampton South-west and Worcester.
In Dudley North, new West Midlands minister Ian Austin is defending a 5,432 majority.Mike O’Brien, the climate change minister, is looking vulnerable in Warwickshire North, If Jaguar Land Rover goes to the wall, other manufacturing companies will surely follow and the government will be staring disaster in the face.
The Liberal Democrats will be hoping for success in Birmingham Ladywood, where city councillor Ayoub Khan needs a 10 per cent swing to take the seat from retiring Labour MP Clare Short. His hopes have been boosted by an ongoing internal Labour row over the selection of a candidate to succeed Ms Short.
The Lib Dems are also eyeing Perry Barr, where candidate Karen Hamilton needs a 10.3 per cent swing to oust Labour MP Khalid Mahmood.