Playing FTSE with the Chiefs

legoleaders2_3253282bBy Mike Small

What’s that noise? It’s the sound of 100 chickens coming home to roost. The poetic irony of Labour being monstered by a cabal of business leaders egged-on by a hostile press will not be lost on many. The fact that it’s brimming with Tory peers, tax dodgers, and blacklisters, like John Morgan, CEO of Morgan Sindall construction firm, makes it no less sweet.  Dodgy geezers like Aidan Heavey and Cassie Hutchings and folk like ‘Beyond Petroleum’s’ Bob Dudley, who you’ll recall popped up last year explaining Great Britain is great and it ought to stay together”.

As Mark Steel points out, the list includes the likes of: “Rooney Anand, who was chief executive of Greene King brewers when it was taken to court by the tax office, for “making taxable income vanish into thin air” by arranging a £300m “internal loan” that was even condemned by the Conservative MP on the Public Accounts Committee.”

Labour are suffering the same coordinated attacks the Yes movement did last year, as business interests circle the wagons and protect their bagmen, Cameron and Osborne. It might do Labour some good though.

The roll-call of 100 may be comforting to those within the Tory bubble but to many living in austerity Britain they look more like a gang of thieves than Captains of Industry or ‘business chiefs’.

Corporate Britain runs on cheap labour, and wants to maintain a low-waged, zero hours economy. Seamus Milne has it right on the SNP surge (‘David Cameron’s corporate champions fear progressive Britain. But voters don’t’):

“Cameron has already tried to use that to stoke anti-Scottish feeling. And mutual hatred between Labour and the SNP in Scotland runs deep. But two key changes should make the prospect less alarming to voters who want to see a change of direction across Britain. The first is that the SNP has now positioned itself clearly to the left of Labour. Under Nicola Sturgeon, the party is campaigning to dump austerity and oppose the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons – and has signed up to a 50% top rate of tax, while dropping its support for a 3% cut in corporation tax. Labour activists complain that the SNP’s left credentials are “skin deep”, but led by recovering Blairite Jim Murphy that’s a tricky case to make. The second key change is the SNP’s commitment to vote against a Tory-led government in any circumstances. Until that pledge was made, a vote for the SNP could have potentially returned Cameron to Downing Street. Now, it could deny Miliband a majority or prevent Labour being the largest party. But SNP seats are committed to an anti-Conservative bloc.

No government has been formed by the party with the second largest number of seats since 1924. But the possibility of a Labour-led administration backed by the SNP is now being denounced by FTSE 100 corporate executives as an “unreconstructed 1970s socialist nightmare”.

That’s clearly a nonsense but as we limber up for the leaders debates tonight, this new geography will exert itself.  Each leader will get a short opening statement lasting around a minute, then the chance to debate four topics. Expect at least four of the seven to focus on austerity and low pay and relentlessly attack the Tories.

Who has heard Leanne Wood speak? She’s likely to shine because she’s passionate and articulate and radical. Farage will be exposed and is vulnerable to attack from all sides after his comments about children playing in the streets and his defence of David Coburn. He looks far less comfortable without a pint in his hand and the shadow of Al Murray now looms over his every appearance. Sturgeon has all the cards, and is often better in a live setting than set-piece speeches. It’s there for Ed Miliband to win or lose but he has to have something to say. It will be interesting whether he tries to appease the attack from big business or tack left. Natalie Bennet has much to gain but can’t afford another media disaster. The Greens expect to take votes off Labour and the crumbling Liberal Democrats, so she’s likely to attack them as insufficiently radical on issues such as nationalising the railways. That’s not difficult  given this sort of stuff.

Nick is milk toast. If last time the debates propelled him to stardom these will help him into the ejector seat.

The debate is unlikely to be dubbed the Magnificent Seven but it will at least for a moment represent a country no longer captured by the red and the blue. As well as the individual battles it will be interesting to see what the cumulative impact of Wood, Sturgeon and Bennet is. Will they have a co-ordinated game-plan?

This is new territory and it will be most uncomfortable for Cameron and Miliband. Who can best adapt to the new politics ripe with potential alliances and terminal pitfalls? While Labour’s old guard Brown bellows from the sidelines (or the shadows or Glenrothes) about “breaking the hearts of the poor”it will be dawning on Red Ed that he can’t throw away the SNP lifeline.

 



Categories: Commentary

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47 replies

  1. Last year’s referendum saw an unprecedented media and big-business onslaught against the SNP and Yes campaign. Because of excellent sites like this, grass-roots support and individual pro-indy journalists the Yes camp managed a very creditable 45%.
    Now Labour are suffering the same kind of attacks from media and business, but in this case Labour do not have website support, or much grass-root activity in Scotland.
    Shame, isn’t it.

  2. Of late, I’ve been bored not annoyed by the succession of numpties who jump on every Bella article with the same tosh. To save them the bother this time:

    The SNP are in bed with as many big businesses as the Tories……Brian Soutar, Donald Trump

    These businessmen are the wealth creators……..Scotland is too wee, poor and stupid to survive without them

    What about the price of oil?

    What have the SNP ever done for the working class in Liverpool?

    Scottish Labour are not unionists…..they deserve to be elected because they are internationalists and socialists

    SNP bad…….

    (Subject to those caveats, it was a great piece. Thank you, Bella)

  3. What I hope comes across in the debate is that the people of Scotland are entitled to vote for whomsoever they wish, just like anybody else in the UK. I would hope that people in England are allowed to look at what is going on in Scotland without all the scare-mongering of the UK media and to take heart that they too can challenge the corrupt UK parties who have scrounged off the poor with impunity up until now.

  4. Labour were warned about what would happen after the Referendum, that they would be in the firing line. Even Owen Jones wrote that the tactics Labour had used in Scotland would be used on them next.
    Quoting big business as if it was Gospel was an obvious deep hole for them to fall into.

  5. sure is ‘a daily dose of polemic’ this site, isn’t it?

    Leanne Wood and Plaid Cymru are nothing and nowhere. They are going to lose seats at the election, not gain any. No-one cares about them and what they have to say. Devolution has been a disaster in Wales; they’ve gone backwards on education and healthcare (in fairness, Labour’s fault). No, I’ve never heard her speak. I entirely expect nothing more than empty socialist rhetoric.

    Millibean (please) will hopefully promise to wave his magic wand and ZAP! cap on profits for private healthcare providers. ZAP! Energy price freeze to ‘reset’ the market. ZAP! Rent controls (which will do nothing but reduce the availability of private rented accommodation and create a few more homeowners and landlord exit the market and sell up). ZAP! A ‘ban’ on zero hours contracts (simply creating a churn and uncertainty as people are constantly hired, fired and re-hired – often not the same people – every month) ZAP! A ‘guaranteed’ GP appointment within 48 hours (i.e. mandatory waiting times – which will be a disaster, removing the ability of clinicians to triage and see who needs to be seen when they need to be seen and manage demand) ZAP! a mansion tax. ZAP! Give the NHS ‘preferred provider status’ even though that’s in contravention with EU law and would require all EU member states to agree to such a status / exemption. ZAP! Limit EU immigrants access to benefits (similarly impossible) ZAP! etc etc.

    And expose himself for the desperate populist he is. Fewer and fewer people are being fooled, and more and more people are waking up.

    “Natalie Bennet has much to gain but can’t afford another media disaster”.

    True, she hasn’t got much to lose. She’ll freeze again, I guarantee it. I’ve got a lot of time for the Greens, more than for Labour, and its a shame. They need a new leader.

    “nationalising the railways”

    Apparently somewhere less than half of people are supportive of this. God knows why, it would be a disaster. I think they think that again ZAP! they will suddenly become magically cheaper, including at peak times. Prices would rise and the quality and frequency of the service would drop substantially. (I favour the German model of a 51% goverment owned company btw, but absolutely not nationalisation. Even I’m old enough to remember British Rail.

    “Nick is milk toast”

    If he manages to eschew the populist ranting by the others, he might be fine and surprise a few people.

    “it will be interesting to see what the cumulative impact of Wood, Sturgeon and Bennet is. Will they have a co-ordinated game-plan?”

    In fairness, if this is the ‘progressive rainbow alliance’, if they’ve got any sense then they’ll let Nicola do the talking.

    “This is new territory and it will be most uncomfortable for Cameron and Miliband.”

    It will be uncomfortable territory for Milibean. Cameron has a growing economy. He’ll be fine.

    “it will be dawning on Red Ed that he can’t throw away the SNP lifeline.”

    There will be no lifeline.

    People in England are waking up to the prospect of a populist, authoritarian leftist Labour government propped up by an authoritarian leftist Scottish National Party. People are waking up, and the next UK government will be a Conservative / Lib Dem / DUP coalition.

    “a low-waged, zero hours economy.”

    Give it a rest ffs.

    “Seamus Milne has it right”

    Oh right, that’s who you’ve been reading. He’s a communist, so he’s wrong about literally everything.

    • …….people are waking up.

      Apart from the sneers and put downs, “people are waking up” seems to be the basis of your argument. Your evidence for this contention? Is it the media? Is it your wide circle of well informed friends? (Somehow i find it hard to envisage you actually having a two way conversation with anyone)
      Or are these newly enlightened people just in your head?

      And suppose you are right and we have a coalition of Tories/LDs and friends from NI ……..how will that play in the coming years in Scotland …… and in Ulster?

      Can I just mention that I won’t be reading your no doubt lengthy riposte as I will be out leafleting for the next two days then travelling to the Scrap Trident demo in Glasgow on Saturday.
      Thank you

      • “Can I just mention that I won’t be reading your no doubt lengthy riposte”

        Oh but you will, like you always do.

        “Your evidence for this contention?”

        – the polls, and trends therein, broadly, and related to (but not exclusively to) key marginals. snPlab are going to fall (pleasingly, just) short, and Conservatives / Lib Dems / DUP will hit the magic 323.

        “And suppose you are right and we have a coalition of Tories/LDs and friends from NI ……..how will that play in the coming years in Scotland …… and in Ulster?”

        I don’t give a f*ck about about how it ‘plays’ in Scotland or Ulster. Regarding Scotland; suck it up. You had your referendum and you didn’t gain your independence. You can either declare UDI and give the world a good laugh, or have another referendum, which can’t come soon enough. Regarding Ulster: If you’re alluding to potential internal strife, well, that’s up to them. No-one cares; the economy in my city is bigger than the whole of NIs.

        “I will be out leafleting for the next two days then travelling to the Scrap Trident demo in Glasgow on Saturday.”

        I hope it snows.

        Remember, wave those slightly bigger placards and marginally longer banners more vigorously. Then they’ll listen – then they’ll know who’s boss – then you’ll best them.

        Just like Syriza* did with the Troika.

        *back in their box where they belong.

      • Surely the the loss of the counterpoint of my ‘trenchant centre-right / right wing views’ as some would have it, that I am apparently ‘known’ for would diminish this crucible?

        Come on, stop complaining. I even admitted above that Nicola Sturgeon will do very well tonight – she might even ‘win’ in as much as anyone can ‘win’ these things.

        But lets turn to the big question. Is Nicola going to wear one of those jackets, and now that she’s ‘broken bread’ with those south of the border, could it be one of this summer’s statement wardrobe items?

    • One small nitpick. See this chart: http://www.politicalcompass.org/uk2015

      You can’t really accuse the SNP, PC or Greens as authoritarian. They are all more (left) libertarian than Labour, Tory, Lib Dem or UKIP.

      It’s the unionist parties that are CLEARLY more authoritarian, with their weird fetish for centralised power and wealth, fawning over the monarchy, unelected upper house, general military dick-waving, state secrecy, and state surveillance.

      It’s OK for you to dislike the left-wing parties for other reasons, this is a democracy, but be honest about that at least.

      • I’ll have to look at the methodology for that.

        Another small nitpick. “State Guardians” for every child is the most authoritarian policy in my memory – even more authoritarian than Labour’s ‘ID cards’. (No ‘State Guardian’ would ever have access to my child).

        Though your SNP are now themselves gathering and agglomerating increasing amounts of personal data about individuals for no apparent purpose.

    • My,my,my. All that tripe in print and Sturgeon mentioned once. Are you Brian Taylor in disguise perchance? Get off your soapbox. You are boring AND wrong.

  6. These people believe that the SNP are a threat to UK economic recovery.
    What recovery?
    What have these people been smoking?
    Their precious Tory led government inherited circa £700b of national debt and more than doubled it over the course of the last parliament.
    Since they had no idea how to grow the economy,their only alternative has been to try and cut public expenditure whilst making sure that taxes on the wealthy remain relatively low (trickle down and all that voodoo stuff).
    These people do not belong in charge of anything if they think the UK economy has been a success under Osborne and friends mismanagement.
    As usual,they are talking politics and not economics.

  7. …don’t forget those heroes of the BT campaign – the CBI. The self interest of Whitehall and big business combined against the YES campaign and they will do the same to Labour.

    …but Labour in Scotland picked the Tories to align with!

  8. Ask milliband, cameron and farage if they actually understand the difference between micro and macro economics.

    • Believe it or not, Milibean has a masters in Economics from the LSE.

      (I know, unbelievable, isn’t it? I studied economics and school and University, and to some extent practice it at work. But his madcap random mish-mash policies and ideas about things don’t relate to any economic theory I’ve ever heard of).

  9. “breaking the hearts of the poor”

    We know it was you, Gordo. You broke our heart. You broke our heart!

  10. ‘Labour are suffering the same co-ordinated attacks the Yes campaign did last year.’ Of course the Yes campaign was an unco-ordinated, improvised, accidental ragbag of disconnected individuals who just happened to come together after 92 (?) years of efforts in that direction with the assistance of the First Minister and the Scottish government in power?

  11. “I hope that more companies and business leaders speak out over the coming weeks and months.” Alistair Darling 4Feb’14 on Bob Dudley, BP CEO

    I trust the Labour Party’s enjoyed their brief starring role as the cheerleaders of corporations entering a democratic vote.

  12. John Page if you ever thought that Labour were “socialist” then I,m sorry but you are along with many millions over the years simply deluded,yes at the time of Keir Hardie they might have entertained the thoughts of a socialist GB only to founder on the hundreds of years of “baubbles/bangles/beads”,it worked all over the world to subvert/control the indigenous peoples and it worked,everyone selling their souls to get accepted by the elite who sucked/s them in and blew them out,goodbye thank you mam,they have been practising the”black arts” for centuries and are far to clever for the “working class from oop north.Hopefully we the people in Scotland will overcome them.

    • Emily
      I was being cheeky…… I follow Bella for really stimulating articles from a range of contributors but especially to read Mike Small’s work
      Recently I have been irritated by the string of people who come out with the same rejoinders regardless of the content of the lead article.

      I was trying to give them a kind of tick box of their usual prejudices as a form in the (unfounded as it turned out) hope that they would give it a break. They have a limited repertoire of prejudices about the Yes movement, one of which is that we can’t really be progressives if we fail to act like socialists and internationalists by not showing solidarity with our fellow citizens of Liverpool (or wherever) inside the Union

      I think Labour in Scotland is like a mafia cabal of talentless but vicious self seekers who have been exposed by the alternative media in the heat of the IndyRef as having no foot soldiers, no infrastructure and having treated their erstwhile dependable supporters with contempt.

      So I don’t think they are socialists.

      Like many I had given up on politics but have been thoroughly stimulated by Mike Small, Andy Wightman, Lesley Riddoch to read up on Bioregionalism, land tenure, local energy generation, food miles, climate change…….and I got round to reading Alistair Gray’s Poor Things and Lanark …..the last year has been a blast and I have learned so much. I have stopped watching TV and have met and listened to many really interesting people that have given me hope that Scotland can be a better place.

      I love the thoughtful and nuanced reflections that people make in response to Bella’s articles………..however the bile and predictable responses from a small number of numpties with pretentious sounding pseudo names (are they anagrams of something really clever?) provoked me into making my cheeky contribution above

      Sorry for the confusion, Emily

      John Page

      • Jeezo, could you brown nose any more…try thinking for yourself and questioning received wisdom. Everyone knows that all this localism stuff is highly contested (if some of it good for other reasons), especially food miles. Contrary to the locavism line, the energy to produce food is not actually focused on transport (low carbon footprint shipping) but more in the production of that food (high carbon footprint inefficient use of energy for heating greenhouses, small scale transport, use of fertilisers, subsidizing the multiple ‘poor’ farmers around the world who go out of business due to rich western posh numpties only eating cabbages from their back garden. Cash crops are essential for most people in the world. Takes more energy/larger carbon footprint to grow an orange/ tomato etc in UK than it does in Spain and transport it to the UK. Same for New Zealand butter (shipping is not high energy)/ same high density banana farming in Jamaica. You want to reduce the carbon footprint then you have to look at comparative advantage i.e) where it is cheapest and most energy efficient to produce food rather, then offset that by the carbon footprint of transport. Not this silly middle class nonsense. Apart from the fact that most people live in cities so it is utterly impractical.

        Also, the reason the world invented food trading was primarily to prevent famine. Every single famine in history has been due to ‘food localism’. Irish famine…plenty of food around in the Pale, but malthusian/ localism dogma meant it was never exported to the regions in need as it would just create a bigger famine latter. Ditto, the Indian famine, ditto the 80 million who starved in China during the 50s and the great leap forward, where all food trade was outlawed, production collectivised and localised.

        And due due to this the only way locavorism can be sustained is on neo liberal terms. It has to create new local markets and profit incentives, even when non profit, rather than the equaling of food distribution and lowering of prices. It is essentially a way for govts to outsource health policy, food production, and role back the state. It is nothing more than the ‘big society’.

      • Mea Culpa John,regards.

      • “Also, the reason the world invented food trading was primarily to prevent famine.”

        Okay, I am totally having that.

        I shall read a sillier thing tomorrow: but the tomorrow is yet to come.

      • Nasty??? Bit harsh for simply having an alternative view point?…

        Actually Judy has a point, albeit a bit one sided and extreme.

        Most famines ‘historically’ very local, occur within 30 miles of adequate food sources. And in modern times, since the commodification of food due to a break down in infrastructure through war or disease Food localism has it’s benefits but unfortunately food security is not one of them. Therefore localism necessarily require the big production to underpin it.

        And the debate is quite old over in the states where there has been somewhat of a back lash against localism in academic circles at least…

        http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2009-food-thought/locavores-dilemma..

        Also food localism shouldn’t be taken in isolation, with respects to govt policy… there is no point in simply measuring food miles for imports but they have to be measured against exports also, which is a bit of a problem when you provide the world with nice whiskey and tunnocks tea cakes.

      • “Most famines ‘historically’ very local, occur within 30 miles of adequate food sources.”

        Hmm. I wonder if the Berkeley professor quoted in the article you link to actually understands the meaning of the word ‘famine’.

        Thus I refute him (I didn’t have to look very far):

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Famine_of_1315%E2%80%9317

      • This just proves the point surely, that local (monoclimate) food production is unstable? That Multi climate food sources and trade is preferable as it spreads the risk of famine and crop failure?

        All for challenging big food business, but the whole locavorsim thing is a bit of a fad and doesn’t stand up to empirical scrutiny.

      • Famines, when they do unfortunately occur, are widespread, not local.

        Exceptional weather events can cause famines. Weather is not the same thing as climate.

        What does ‘monoclimate’ mean? Please explain.

        If local sourcing of food is a fad then it’s a fad that’s been around for a long time.

        You will have heard of Farmers’ Markets and Farm Shops. So, given the fact that local sourcing of food does happen, what do you mean when you say that it ‘doesn’t stand up to empirical scrutiny’?

  13. Corporatist hell what will “dodgy Doive” be elected on circa 33/32% not very encouraging.

  14. Big business and the banks used labour in 1997, brown in his arrogance couldn’t see it.

    Whom in the city would give brown, darling, alexander or balls the time of day?

    labour have few friends left and their traditional vote is soft, how can you have a party with committed supporters if that party has no raison d’être?

    Euan McKinnon

  15. Listening to Allan Massie the other night going on about how wonderful capitalism is and has been, It suddenly occurred to me that Mr Massie’s day is over.

  16. @ Corporatist Hell

    1) ‘I don’t give a f*ck about about how it ‘plays’ in Scotland or Ulster.’ Well firstly, this site is about Scottish issues, and secondly you may not care, but after last year, we all know that your party cares desperately about whether Scotland becomes independent.

    2) Where are your links to back up your claims that ‘People in England are waking up to the prospect of a populist, authoritarian leftist Labour government propped up by an authoritarian leftist Scottish National Party’?

    • 1) Which is “my party” – ? (It’s possible who you think is ‘my party’ isn’t the party I’ve voted for most recently). Though I’m not a tribalist – I don’t have ‘a party’. I’ve voted for different parties in recent history and I expect that’ll be the case in the future.

      I personally don’t care desperately, personally about whether Scotland becomes independent. However, you are (I think) very sure that Scotland should become independent, and will become independent. I want you to have another referendum, as soon as possible.

      2) “links”. What, you mean “links” to media sites, or some such? If you’d bothered to read what I’d said, you’d see that I’m talking about the polls, and polls of polls, from different sources using different methodologies, the trends therein, broadly, and related to (but not exclusively to) key marginals. snPlab are going to fall (pleasingly, just) short, and Conservatives / Lib Dems / DUP will hit the magic 323, and form the next government of the United Kingdom.

      • “I personally don’t care desperately, personally about whether Scotland becomes independent.”

        Fair enough. Though it does raise the question of why, if you don’t care either way, you continue to comment on this site. It seems a bit…futile..

  17. Judy

    Really unpleasant and unnecessary. The style is familiar, though……..

    John Page

  18. Most enjoyable – I think you’ve covered everything here John Page!

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