I can help with Keith Massey’s query (Letters April 29) as to why we allowed major UK companies like Rowntree’s to be sold off.

The answer is that we had a Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher who believed that the market, free and untrammelled, would cure all ills.

The Tories of the 1980s didn’t just stop at privatising so called ‘lame duck’ businesses like British Leyland or British Steel, they also wanted the financial discipline of free-flowing global capital to sort out what they thought were ‘underperforming’ companies.

If the bosses couldn’t prevent hostile takeovers, then that was tough.

Unlike the free market maniacs running the UK then, Germany and other countries kept the laws which prevented this kind of thing.

That’s why they still have a strong manufacturing base today and we don’t.

Patrick Kelly, East Mount Road, York