Why did business leaders write a letter to the Telegraph?

October 18, 2010

In advance of the Government spending review this week, thirty five business leaders write an open letter published in the Daily Telegraph. Why?

At times, an event triggers curiosity. A letter to the Daily Telegraph today [Monday 18th October, 2010] is one such example. The letter received widespread attention even before it was published. It was trailed as being ‘on the eve of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review’.

The context

As UK subscribers will confirm, The Daily Telegraph is the medium of choice for supporters of mainstream Conservatism here. Stories are likely to offer support for Government policy.

Let’s assume that the timing of the letter is significant. Why should the business leaders give such public support? Many but not all are well-known supporters of the Government. It’s not difficult to generate possible explanations, most of them inter-related.

The conspiracy explanation

‘Big business is in cahoots with Cameron and Osborne to create a compliant work force permitting low wages and more wealth to the wealthy and powerful’

The ‘you scratch my back’ explanation

A version of the conspiracy theory in which business interests see benefits to a friendly relationship with the Government

The lobbying explanation

Private sector business leaders seek to add a ‘no compromise’ voice to help the Prime Minister and Chancellor overcome internal pressures to dilue their proposed plans.

The bottom-line explanation

The leaders are acting in the best interests of their shareholders in creating organisational profits

The Governance explanation

The more nuanced view that a Corporation acts with regards to ‘multiple bottom lines’ (An idea proposed a long time ago by Peter Drucker) and have reached a consensus in the interests of ‘stakeholders’.

There are almost certainly other explanations. It may even be possible that such ‘action direct’ seemed a good idea at the time that agreement was reached by these powerful industrial leaders. But in the absence of more reliable information, it is hard to feel that there is one convincing explanation. Except, perhaps, that a powerful tranche of private sector business approves broadly of the much-leaked plans for Government spending.

Ed Miliband seeks help from a psychic psephologist

October 18, 2010

The scene: A fairground. A well-dressed young man in unsuitable business clothing for the muddy terrain stealthily approaches the booth of the famous Mystic Meg.

He appears to be slightly agitated…

MM: Come in, come in, young master Ed, I were expecting you. Don’t be shy now with Mystic Meg. I can see this is another first for you. You trying to be calm on the outside and control your nerves, but you can’t quite. Meg sees a lot, even before consulting her sacred pebbles. What you want is to find out what David is thinking, what he’s planning.

EM: Well, I haven’t had much time to chat with my brother recently, although I still love him very much indeed…

MM [impatiently]: Not that David, my young roseate princeling. The other David. Although you must go on being your brother’s keeper. You wouldn’t want him to take care of you would you? Laugh out loud I says you don’t. I’m talking about Playground Dave. Head of the Big Socks gang. You did well last time you clashed with him, but listen to Mystic Meg. He didn’t know what to expect last time. And you had one or two little tricks which stung him a bit. But you are going to have lots more playground battles with Dave and his gang.

EM: [Bravely] Thank you Meg. That’s really important for me to remember. I know our next meeting will be really important too. I keep thinking about it. Almost all the time. I’ve got to get my first moves prepared, haven’t I? There’s so many things to choose from. And the Big Socks are pretty divided aren’t they?

MM: Ho Hum. You’re right there m’dearie. Of course they are. Side-Kick Nick and his little gang. But you want to win them over to your side don’t you? So you don’t want to be making any nasty comments about Nick and his boys do you?

EM: [Plaintively]. So many things to think about.

MM: One thing at a time young fellow. One thing at a time. Ask, and I’ll see what the sacred pebbles say is in store for you.

EM: Well there is one thing…

MM: Ask away, young leader.

EM: Well, people have started calling me names. They are saying I look like a cuddly Panda. What should I do about that?

MM: That’s a three-pebble problem, right enough it is. Now just you sit right there, Master Ed and try some of these delicious bamboo shoots. I got them in fresh when I foresaw you were coming to see me.

Next Week

What happened when Ed confronts Dave in the playground for a second time.