A controversial candidate in this year’s US Senate elections feels that the media are not portraying her as she really is, so she came up with a clever little advertisement in which she looks at the camera and says “I’m You”
...only to be met with entirely predictable chorus of “Oh No, You’re Not”.
Yet the question implied in the advertisement is a good one. Who in government is “Us”? In particular, who among our hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats and politicians really identifies with the millions of hard-working entrepreneurs who generate all the wealth and pay all the taxes to fund our rulers’ expensive lifestyles?
In the UK, we are ruled by an independent political class that is increasingly divorced from the real world. The leaders of all three major political parties look like clones – all thin, dark-haired males in their early forties with the same privileged background, Oxbridge degrees, and not a single day of real business experience between them.
The same description, sometimes with slight variation, applies to most of the people around them. The fact that they know nothing about business does not stop them interfering with it. Indeed, the more ignorant they are, the more they want to interfere.
Real businessmen are, of course, too busy running their own businesses to respond in kind. At best they might take a break long enough to write a letter to the newspapers, like the one signed by 35 leading British businessmen urging the government to be firm on cutting state spending. These letters can do some good. A similar letter just before the May general election stimulated a long overdue debate on payroll taxes.
Yet it would be a mistake to think that 35 of the highest paid executives in the country speak for all five million British businesses – some of whom are frightened by the prospect of cuts because they depend on government contracts. Nor are the five million represented by Sir Philip Green, Chairman of the Arcadia Group, who spoilt an excellent report on government waste by suggesting the state should delay payments due to private business. Late payment by government has long been identified as a major source of cash flow crises.
Big business and the banks have a fairly loud voice, but who speaks for the vast majority of those five million, who are small businesses or self-employed entrepreneurs? We do not trust the fat cats of the CBI to speak for us, nor moribund Chambers of Commerce, nor the ineffective FSB, nor a celebrity “czar” ...
nor the bankers who are always being brought into government – our second worst enemies joining our worst! Where is our voice?