Diary

ConHome Diary: Conservatives Are Failing to Make the Case for Capitalism

19 Jan 2018 at 15:40

The collapse of a company like Carillion was always going to result in Jeremy Corbyn attacking the whole concept of ‘contracting out’ – or ‘privatisation’ as he would say. He conveniently ignores the inconvenient fact that it wasn’t Carillion’s public sector contracts which caused the company to go bust, but instead they had overreached themselves on their private sector contracts which made up 60% of their business. Corbyn also questioned why contracts had been awarded contracts even after July’s profit warning. This shows how little Corbyn understands of the private sector and how businesses work. A profit warning means just that – that profits are likely to lower than previously indicated. It does not mean that a company is in imminent danger of going bust. You can’t blame Corbyn for not understanding the private sector. He’s never had a job in it. Come to think of it, I don’t think he’s had a public sector job either, unless you count being an MP. His only job before becoming an MP was as a trade union organiser. His Shadow Cabinet fares little better. I don’t think any of them have ever actually run a business themselves. Owen Smith worked for Pfizer (insert own joke here) and Rebecca Long-Bailey was a lawyer, but apart from those two there is little private sector experience to be found.
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I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The case for capitalism is not being made. The case for privatisation is not being made. The case for contracting out is not being made. Corbyn’s populist approach is making headway among young voters who, by definition, have no memory of what state control did to the economy in the 1970s. Having reached the ripe old age of 55 it’s becoming clear to me that all politics is cyclical. And we’re now entering a period of time where people genuinely think that the state is much better at running things than the private sector. People even seem to think the railways were better under state ownership. Politicians on the right have failed to counter this type of propaganda and until they do, the danger of a Corbyn government will grow by the day.
Of course, the trouble is that the private sector is often the worst possible advert for itself. The behaviour of some company directors is appalling and allows the narrative to develop that all directors are just in it for themselves. One rotten apple spoils the barrel. The way some industries were privatised means that lack of competition and soft regulation has allowed some companies – especially in the energy and water sectors – to treat their customers with the same contempt that the public sector has often displayed. It shouldn’t be like that. It doesn’t have to be like that.
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On Wednesday a colleague told me of a crowdfunding initiative launched by two of the victims of the black cab driver John Worboys, who is about to be let out of prison on parole. They want to launch a legal challenge to stop that happening, or at the very least make sure that the Parole Board followed correct procedures. They wanted to raise £10,000. I tweeted about it and Guido Fawkes blogged. I then decided to do an hour-long phone-in on the issue. At the start of the phone-in people had donated £2,000. An hour later the total was more than £13,000. If that doesn’t demonstrate the power of radio, I don’t know what does. The total was boosted by a £5,000 donation from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. As I write the total is more than £15,000. If you’d like to donate, click HERE [insert link https://www.crowdjustice.com/donation/d2p5VV69vDMl6d6D5xxQnYBGvNDk/?style=new ]. The target is now £50,000. Worboys’ victims deserve justice and they need to feel safe. It’s a scandal that this money even has to be raised. The system has failed these women and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered about the way the Parole system needs to be reformed and made more transparent.
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Nicola Sturgeon has been uncharacteristically quiet of late, hasn’t she? Perhaps the reason is the plummeting support for Scottish independence. Only 37% of Scots now want Scotland to be a fully independent country, according to a YouGov poll this week. Another part of Project Fear which hasn’t come true – the warning made in the Brexit referendum that Brexit would make the break-up of the United Kingdom more likely.
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If you’ve got Netflix, check out a Norwegian political thriller series called OCCUPIED. It centres around a green Norwegian Prime Minister who stops all oil and gas production. Without giving too much away, it then centres around how the EU persuades Russia to invade and ensure oil and gas production continues. It’s absolutely gripping. No need to thank me!

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