Browse > Home /

| Subcribe via RSS



Lib Dems “promotion” of British business is a joke

By Editor
October 24th, 2012 at 8:23 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, Policy

One of our readers forwarded an email they received from Lorely Burt MP today. It reads

 Dear             ,

 The Liberal Democrats are a party of business. Tonight Nick Clegg is giving a speech to a group of business leaders, to highlight just that.

 Nick will say that the Liberal Democrats are determined to put the private sector at the heart of a strong, rebalanced economy.

 As a former entrepreneur myself, this rings true with me – because since coming into Government, our party has been promoting British business in lots of ways:

  •  giving shareholders new powers
  • pushing employee ownership
  • taking action to open up more boardrooms to more women

Good grief. If the party big-wigs really think that any of the above measures have helped “promote” British business, then we are in serious, serious trouble.  We hope Nick’s speechwriters are more in tune with what business actually wants (rather than forced upon them) than this email seems to suggest.

Laughingly the email invites business people to answer a survey “Listening to Business”. Having read the above email and been reminded of the new regulations that the Liberal Democrats have played a significant hand in forcing upon business it seems unlikely that many will actually feel minded to complete the survey.

So to let you know, the survey consists of asking the following: name, email, phone number, address, business sector, turnover  – oh plus one question “If there were one thing the Government could do the help your Business, what would it be“.

How about delivering on the coalition promises of 2010? A “bonfire of red tape”; Removing existing regulation that unnecessarily impedes growth;  Introducing new regulation only as a last resort; Reducing the overall volume of new regulation; Improving the quality of the design of new regulation; Reducing the regulatory cost to business and civil society groups;  Moving to a risk-based enforcement regime where inspections are minimised etc

So far the Lib Dem’s promotion of UK business has been lamentable. Nothing here suggests it is going to get any better, any time soon.

Tags: , , , ,
'

Battle lines are drawn: this is the mother of all fights

By Angela Harbutt
November 10th, 2011 at 10:44 pm | 12 Comments | Posted in Economics, Nannying, Personal Freedom

A huge chunk of the corporate world will be taking a very sharp intake of breath right now as it is announced that Australia is to become the first country to seek to strip private legal companies of their trademarks. 

The Australian government has today effectively passed a bill that will mean from December next year, all cigarettes will be sold in olive green packs, with no trademark brand logos permitted on any packaging. Companies will be able to print their name and the cigarette brand in small, prescribed font on the packets together with stark health warning messages and pictures, which will cover 75% of the front of the pack and 90% of the back.

Tobacco companies have vowed to fight the new legislation in court. And rightly so. Can you imagine Coca Cola allowing the shiny red can and swirly brand name to be removed and replaced by an olive green can, with warnings of addiction and early death plastered all over it, without challenge? Or Cadbury giving up its purple bars of loveliness, or Tanqueray its distinctive green bottles without a fight? No I don’t think so. They would rightly argue that their branding is about product differentiation and brand share, that they have invested millions in their trademarks and will challenge any body – including governments – that seek to take that away.

And whilst once the fast food, confectionery and drinks industry stood as far away from the tobacco industry as they possibly could (with fingers crossed muttering quietly “please not us next, please not us next”). “The times they are a changin”.

Taxation, the original weapon of choice of Governments seeking to discourage tobacco consumption, returns increasingly to the alcohol industry, and  is now the insidious stick with which to beat the food industry (think Danish fat tax).

Nor will it stop at just tax. Where health lobby groups have succeeded with tobacco – so they will follow for alcohol, fast food, chocolate and every other indulgence we enjoy.    We already see that great old anti-smoking chestnut- the cost to the NHS -appearing with increasing frequency …  “the cost of obesity to NHS“  or the “£3bn cost of alocohol to NHS every year” .

So too have the scare tactics – the headlines that  get ever more hysterical … the “obesity pandemic“… “Fatty foods Addictive like Cocaine“… “Binge drinking on the rise” (never mind that according to the governments own statistics, alcohol consumption is actually falling).

We are already see signs of anti-tobacco-style attacks on food distribution ( health lobby groups arguing for a ban on siting of “fast food outlets” near educational facilities) and advertising (Diane Abbott’s criticism of Coca Cola and McDonalds sponsoring the Olympic Games) etc.

So sure as night follows day  it’s only a matter of time before it will become “widely accepted” that many of our pleasures and indulgences are in fact wicked evil addictive substances and that we are not responsible consumers but the” hapless and the exploited” that need protecting for our own sakes.

It’s a tiny step from there to the decision that it’s the branding of the fizzy drink, bottle of booze, bar of chocolate, or burger that’s the problem – and stripping away the trademark, packaging design and strap line – is not just desirable but necessary.

And whereas now we have politicians stating “If this legislation stops one young (Australian) from picking up a shiny, coloured packet and prevents them becoming addicted to cigarettes then in my view it will have been worthwhile,” we we soon hear them saying this instead…

If this legislation stops one young (Australian) from picking up a shiny, red tin of Coca Cola  and prevents them becoming addicted to fizzy drinks then in my view it will have been worthwhile” .

And the consequences of travelling blindly down this health evangelist’s path will be brands competing on price, not quality, not health; a duller, less imaginative and exciting world; counterfeiting criminal gangs having a field day; and we the people accepting that we know nothing about anything and that “Government knows best”. When we all have Soviet style cola rationed to us by our “benign” governments we can all praise them and thank them for saving us from ourselves.

I am sure that we all ate more vegetables in the Middle Ages -and probably in Soviet Russia too-  they are just not ages I want to return to, nor regimes I wish to live under. There is an alternative. We can say NO MORE. This is a line in the that has been crossed…Companies have rights. People’s pensions and life-savings are tied up in these companies and their brands. Trademarks can’t be dismissed on a whim.  Intellectual Property Rights can’t be casually cast aside.  And perhaps most importantly …We are adults – not children. And we whilst we say yes to informed choice, education, and help to those who want it…we say no state control.

THIS is a battle that we cannot allow tobacco to lose.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sack this person – now!

By Timothy Cox
June 11th, 2010 at 1:55 pm | 8 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

In case you hadn’t noticed, today a certain football tournament kicks off in South Africa. Thankfully this fact hasn’t escaped the attention of our Food Standards Agency (FSA). No, indeed not. Such was the concern about our wellbeing at the FSA that someone has generously spent tax payers’ money preparing a guide on how and what we should drink during the festivities. How kind. Never mind that Homo sapiens have managed feed and water themselves for around 200,000 years now, what we’ve always needed is a ten-year-old government body to help us through the trauma of mealtimes. A full copy of this egregiously patronising document is here3045948221_4b3bc27ba2, but the highlights include:

“If you’re throwing a party for friends and family to watch a game, there are lots of tasty and healthy options you can tuck into as you cheer your team on. Why not serve a vegetable curry with boiled rice or a tasty chilli with plenty of kidney beans?”

“When you’re engrossed in the game it’s easy to sip your way though more [drinks] than you realise. Remember that bottled beers come in different sizes, so you might be drinking more that you think.”

And my personal favourite:

“You might feel as if you are kicking every ball and covering every blade of grass along with the players, but that doesn’t count as being active! So why not use football fever as an excuse to get active yourself?”

What on earth is this all about?! Easy to lose count of how many drinks you’ve had… forgetting that bottles come in  different sizes…! I would feel embarrassed using this tone with my four year old cousin, let alone preaching about the type of party food you should or shouldn’t serve in your own home. As for using football fever to get yourself active, nothing makes me want to remain ensconced in my arm-chair more than a jumped up public servant reminding me of my “duty” to keep myself fit and healthy. Whoever spent a morning writing this paternalistic nonsense, at our expense, needs sacking. Immediately.

Tags: , , , ,

GUEST POST: The Era of Laissez-Faire?

By admin
February 1st, 2010 at 12:45 pm | No Comments | Posted in Economics, International Politics

klein_06_smallOne of the established memes about the financial crisis is that it demonstrates the failure of unfettered capitalism, the dog-eat-dog, laissez-faire environment that prevailed in the West over the last few decades, all driven by the ideology of “free-market fundamentalism.” This seems to be a truism among most of the Commentariat. Of course, as pointed out repeatedly on this blog, the truth is virtually the opposite: there was never any “deregulation,” the Bush Administration spent public money like a drunken sailor, and government continued to expand as it always does. But a picture is worth a thousand words, so try these on for size. (US data; click charts for sources.)

klein2

klein-3

klein-4

klein-5

One response I sometimes hear is “Sure, there are more regulations and more government spending, but the set of things that should be regulated and the amount of government spending the economy needs are growing even faster!” This is essentially the Krugman-DeLong view about the stimulus: it just wasn’t big enough. Or they say that financial markets were “deregulated,” de facto, because the number of regulations and regulators increased more slowly than the number of new financial instruments and new markets. I wonder, though: are these falsifiable propositions? No matter how big the government is, if there are any problems, it’s always because the government isn’t big enough!

This post is authored by Peter G. Klein, an Associate Professor at the University of Missouri and Adjunct Professor at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. He usually blogs at Organizations and Markets, where this post first appeared.

Tags: , , ,


  • RSS Elsewhere on Lib Dem Blogs…