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thoroughly discredited, the Tories must put some of that fabled blue he was last heard muttering something about it being hard enough
water between themselves and Mr. Brown’s Labour Party. I am not to do business in the first place without having the bloody
holding my breath. government to compete with.
To my local hyper-extracheaptescosupermart last Saturday to forage
Which reminds me of what is happening in Kent. Local businesses
for provisions. By shaving a few pennies here and there off my list I was
there are steamed up because Kent County Council operates a
able to spare enough for a bottle of half-price red infuriator from
number of companies that service the council’s needs, such as
Down Under. As I approached the shelves I saw a satisfying number of
recruitment, transport and so on.
half-price stickers punctuating the groaning shelves of wine. On closer
The council says the millions in profits from Kent Top Travel and Kent
inspection, satisfaction turned to rage. Every single special offer was
Top Temps (as two of these companies are called) keeps council
out of stock. Nothing. Not a sausage. Plenty of full-price wine either
taxes down. Yet one cannot escape the conclusion that this strong
side of the specials, but wherever there was a red sticker, the shelf was
Tory council is not only operating a form of nationalisation-lite (one
empty. I asked a passing flunky why this was so. It appears OAP’s and
business leader went so far as to accuse them of communism!) it is
the jobless swarm in during the working day and denude the shelves
also stopping local businesses from competing for lucrative contracts
before anyone else gets a look-in. Is this a new government-backed
scheme to bolster pensions and tax credits with cheap wine?
they might legitimately expect to have a crack at.
Local protesters suggest these council-companies are not subject to
the same regulatory rigours as their own businesses, but I am sure the
While wringing out my socks the other days after a summertime walk
council would not allow that to happen.
in the English countryside, I reflected on my wisdom in ignoring
Would it?
whichever fool minister it was a couple of years ago who
recommended we uproot our traditional plants, dependant as they
are on a mild and damp temperate climate, and replace them with
Joined up what? The GCSE results came out in August with
flora more suited to the Arizona desert. For that was what our golden
government ninnies and spinnies having a fit of the vapours about
corner of England was soon to resemble…an arid, parched
25% of 16 year-olds leaving school instead of going on to higher
wasteland scorched by global warming.
education, all part of the socialist dream of universal equality of
Now one thing I really approve of in this mildly hysterical debate on
global warming is that people are cutting back on wasteful behaviour Yet the self-same government is spending a small fortune on
and that can only be a good thing, whether we are all going to hell in recruiting young people for its apprenticeship scheme, on the highly
a fiery hand basket or not. And I heartily support those who for ethical sensible basis that actually there are young people out there who will
reasons go way beyond that in their daily lives. do better in life leaving school at 16, signing up as an apprentice,
But I cannot escape the feeling that the people who are banging the getting a really useful skill – and a qualification – and earning a
global warming drum are just old-fashioned socialists repackaged as
decent living in a worthwhile job instead of studying surfboard design
environmental campaigners. They lost all the old political arguments
at a polytechnic with an overblown sense of its own importance.
in the 80’s so had to find other ways to make us feel guilty for our
I happen to think the apprenticeship scheme is a damned good
consumerist tendencies, for being alive even, and thus easier to
idea, and combined with other innovations, such as the foundation
control. Capitalism does have its excesses but that is because it is run
degree courses being offered by the Kent Science Resource Centre,
by humans, who have an annoying knack – annoying from the point
shows that someone, somewhere in government is thinking straight.
of view of the hair-shirt do-gooders – of being rambunctious,
excessive and hard to control in just about any walk of life you care to
mention, from sport to religion and, yes, business.
Almost laughed my moth-eaten socks off the other day. The johnnies
at BERR have come up with a wondrous new scheme that, on the
face of it, we should all applaud.
I notice our sainted and usually mild-mannered editor chewing his
What it does is set a budgetary cost on new regulations that each
desk the other day in a fit of rage. Apparently, in amongst the usual
mound of garbage that accompanies the Sunday Times each week,
government department must adhere to. So each year, there is a
he had found a magazine that called itself…Business First! It was a
limit on the new regulations a department can introduce. This, BERR
tawdry, scrawny, skinny little thing entirely lacking in the style and
reckons, will discipline government to be more cost-effective and
grandeur of the fine publication you are currently reading. What
efficient in its regulatory behaviour.
turned irritation to anger was that this benighted rag appeared to
But think a bit harder about all this and you will see that this is nothing
have been some propaganda from BERR, the government’s
more than an admission that regulation to this government is like
department of work-prevention and industrial obfuscation, for there
drugs to a junkie. It can't help itself, so it must be trained. And if they
was the BERR logo on the cover.
look like breaching their budget, addicts in one department can
Worse than that, it carried advertising. Which meant the government
trade budgets with another department.
was, in effect, apparently competing with this mighty organ for the
Why not just go cold turkey and stop regulating? Or start dismantling
same clients. Bloody cheek. A quick call to m’learned friends
old regulations that don't apply any more? Oh, they do reckon they
suggested there was little one can do about it except cause a stink,
can do that, but only to make room for more regulations.
so phone lines glowed hot. As a dear friend of mine, a lawyer who with wondrous eccentricity
Seems the BERR was not actually aware it was being associated in this used to wave a cutlass about his head when addressing meetings,
way and was more than a little miffed too. As for the sainted editor, used to say, “The lunatics have taken over the asylum!”
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