GEC: Extract from 'Written in Flames'
Extract from the pamphlet Written in Flames, published in 1987. Full reference: I-Spy Productions Written in Flames: Naming the British Ruling Class London: Hooligan Press ISBN 1869802071. Undated, but published in 1987.
GEC: The General Electric Company was formed by the Wilson government backing a series of take-overs to create the UK's biggest manufacturing group an electrical engineering giant under the control of Arnold Weinstock. Welnstock, a self-made man, was a skilful manager with no connections to the traditional ruling class; he fitted in well with labour's corporate plans. Now Weinstock is a country landowner and seems set on founding his own dynasty.
GEC mainly produces for the armed forces. It makes frigates, missiles, torpedos and mines, radar systems. jamming devices and mllitary satellites.
GEC supplies and builds nuclear power stations. It has the construction contracts for Sizewell B. Its other main customer Is British Telecom but It also makes Hotpoint washing machines and cookers, Osram light fittings and bulbs, Xpelair fans and Avery weighing scales and electronic supermarket checkouts.
After its long period of expansion and eating other businesses, GEC has finally run into trouble : Its failure to sell the Nimrod early warning system to the MOD and the col1apse of its take-over attempt at Plesseys.
GEC's profits of £747 million have been piled up over the years and it now sits on £1.5 billion refusing to spend it on anything except buying somebody else's company.
Lord Arnold Weinstock, managing director, owns £27m In GEC shares and earns a salary of £177,000. He's always kept in the background, prefering politicians like James Prior to take the chair. But he has been the real power behind GEC and, now at 63, he has to find someone to take his place. Simon Weinstock, his son, went to Winchester and Oxford, marrying into the family of the 4th Baron Legh. His father-in-law was a courtier to the Queen Mother and to Princess Margaret. Now he's an associate director of GEC and looks set on becoming the future head of his father's company.
Arnold Weinstock went to the LSE. Now he owns a country estate in Wiltshire: Bowden Park, Lacock, near Chippenham, complete with gate houses, gamekeepers and keep out signs. His town house is 7 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair W1
- Sir Kenneth Bond (67), vice chair, has been Weinstock's buddy throughout their careers. He owns £13m GEC shares in trust and he lives at White Gables, Austenwood Common, Gerrards Cross, Bucks.
- Ronald Grierson (66) also vice chair, married the Viscountess Bearstead after an education at Hlghgate public school and Oxford. He's a director of S.G. Warburg's merchant bank, He lives at 27Grosvenor Crescent Mews, Belgravia
- The 2nd Baron of Stafford, Lord Henry Nelson, has been on the GEC board since his company was swallowed-up by it. His country estate is Wincote Farm, Eccleshall .in...Staffordshire. Another northern landowner is the former chair of the Ferranti military engineering company, Sebastian de Ferranti (60) who lives at Henbury Hall, Macclesfield in Cheshlre.
Also with GEC is the vice chair of the board of governors of the BBC, Sir William Rees-Mogg (59). This former Sunday Times editor, unsuccessful Tory MP and Arts Council member, lives at The Old Rectory. Hinton Blewit, in Somerset where he was also High Sherriff for a while.
- Lord Catto, head of Morgan Grenfell, GEC’s merchant bank is also on the board.