Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The New Political Divide

The Conservatives snub to the CBI is a nice line in biting the hand that feeds you.

Now, these days, the CBI conference is less a conference of the Captains of Industry and more of a conflab of their PR people. However the message that Cameron is sending out to the wider world is interesting: the Conservatives have more important things to do than to think about the problems of business.

The problem is that that the problems of business are actually more important than the rantings of Polly Toynbee or the inner turmoil of Hoodies. British business is being undermined by regulation and high taxation. Jobs are moving away from the UK as a result, with Burberry only the latest high profile manufacturing departure to Asia.

The interference of the state is crtically damaging. Apparently Blair will say that he will cut business regulation by 25% when he actually comes to the CBI today. While there is more joy in Heaven at a repentant sinner, the fact is that the PM has already demonstrated that he has rarely seen a regulation he did not like, and "25%" is an amazingly round number. How about working with business on a broader range of issues? No, sadly, it is the usual grandstanding.

The Liberal Democrats have been a lot more detailed and specific in setting out the business agenda. Deregulation is key, and equally important is clarity. Business leaders need a predictable business environment, with as little interference as possible- that is the explicit aim of the Liberal Democrats in setting out an agenda for business.

So the divide in business policy, as in personal freedom and increasingly across the board in British Politics, is between the Liberal Democrats who wish to see increased freedom and have a coherent set of policies to get there, and new Labour and Blue Labour who ignore the real questions, and sell sound bites as policy and increased regulation as a reality.

As the Blue Labour project reaches the point of no return- watch this space, British politics is going to get a lot more interesting.

Mr. Cameron will deeply regret his snub.

3 comments:

Etzel Pangloss said...

Cameron panders to the TUC and then ignores the CBI. What a looking glass world we live in.

But please, jobs in manufacturing are moving away because of low wages. All other reasons are by-the-by.

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Cicero said...

Manufacturing is not only a function of wage price inputs: the price of land is high here too. Our comparative advantage was easy and cheap access to capital- now, in the globalised cpaital market, even China has that.

The only way we can compete is to ensure that productivity and value added remain high- and over regulation ain't going to do that.