The General Election campaign will end today as it began - with the survival of a major West Midlands manufacturer in doubt.
Four weeks ago, the axe fell on MG Rover - a calamitous blow that could mean the loss of up to 10,000 jobs.
Now the future of telecoms equipment group Marconi is at risk with the possible loss of 2,000 jobs.
Other household names, once powerhouses of the West Midlands economy, have either reduced dramatically in size or disappeared since the 2001 General Election - Massey-Ferguson and Jaguar in Coventry, Alstom in Birmingham, Goodyear in Wolverhampton and Waterford-Wedgwood in Stoke among the most prominent casualties.
Workers at Peugeot in Coventry live week to week with the probability that they, eventually, will also become victims in the shakeout of the automotive industry.
Hundreds of smaller firms face a daily struggle against competition from the emerging economies of China, the Far East and India, where wages are low but the skill base is high.
More than one million manufacturing jobs have been lost throughout the UK in eight years.
And yet, apart from the Government's initial speedy response to the MG Rover crisis, the future of manufacturing has hardly featured during the election campaign.
Politicians have been happy to talk about hospitals, schools, crime, immigration and, of course, themselves but they have been largely silent on the subject of factories.
A further 27,800 manufacturing jobs in Birmingham and Solihull will disappear between 2002 and 2015, according to Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Some 83,000 new jobs will be created, largely in professional services, distribution, retail and the public sector.
The MG Rover Task Force has achieved good results since its inception, supporting hundreds of supply-chain businesses and paying out more than #1 million to keep small firms afloat.
It should not be forgotten, either, that work by the first Rover Task Force in 2000 has softened the closure of Longbridge.
As many as 40,000 jobs might have been lost last month, if action had not been taken five years ago to persuade employers to switch to new products and new markets.
But far more needs to be done to address the decline of manufacturing. The sector still accounts for a significant percentage of West Midlands jobs - a quarter of members of the BCCI run manufacturing firms.
It should not take the shock effect of the closure of a major employer to bring the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to Birmingham - it is interesting to speculate on what would have happened had MG Rover collapsed mid-way through the Government's term in office rather than at the start of the election campaign?
The Birmingham Post is speaking up for manufacturing because time is short. This region cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.
The Government must redouble efforts to train and re-skill the West Midlands workforce and help employers to exploit new markets. The emphasis for manufacturing has to be on excellence, for there has never been any God-given reason why products from this region should have preferential treatment.
Birmingham welcomes jobs of all types, but no amount of warehousing or shopping centres can produce the economic wealth we need to drive this city forward.