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Do the British public really want to be taking political advice from powerful business owners?

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The support offered by business leaders to David Cameron and George Osborne may not prove that helpful at the polls

Here’s another article I’ve done for Catch21 – the UK’s first internet television channel based at Westminster – run by young people, for young people.

Business leaders came out last week in support for the Tories promise to lessen tax rises on National Insurance. This was no doubt a bitter pill for Labour to swallow as they’ve courted the business community and been the favoured party ever since Tony Blair took control in 1994. But just how important was this so-called ‘victory’ for the Tories? Yes, those who promise goodies and tax cuts before an election usually go on to win, but are the British public really looking to take political advice from rich and powerful business leaders?

Consider what the cost has been of listening to these people over the last two decades. The practice of neo-liberal politics has basically given them free-reign and total control over the worlds markets, it has de-regulated anything that stood in their way and given them unprecedented power to grow as big and broad as they wish. The objective of our economic and social activity became limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit-centred economy.

But asides from being promised by Cameron and Osborne that cutting the debt will be favoured over protecting jobs, there is a clear reason why these businessmen have spoken out against the government. According the figures released last week by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the rich are £25,000 a year worse off whereas the poorest 10% of the UK population is £1,700 better in pocket.  Clearly if you a greedy member of the richer class then this redistribution of wealth isn’t going to please.

What is confusing though is why Labour politicians aren’t shouting these stats down any TV camera pointed their way – they almost seem embarrassed that they’ve helped the poor. Yet around 80% of the British public believe we are a too unequal society. Surely then, celebrating this change will help claw in votes from those who believe in social mobility and equal opportunities from birth for all.

But even though more people than not believe that Cameron will be considerably worse than Brown (look at Ireland for example – there they’ve implemented Cameron’s plan most enthusiastically and they have suffered one of the biggest collapses in productivity anywhere since WW2), the government are not making it easy for people to vote in them back in for a forth term. Rather than celebrating their ideological differences to the Tories, the government are basically saying ‘yes we’re going to do all the stuff Tories are saying too, but we’ll just cut a bit less and do it a bit slower so that the pain isn’t quite so sharp’.

But where can/will these cuts be exactly? The British public realise that we are currently caught between a rock and a hard place – since Thatcher the industrial base of this country has been gradually run down and the only major area of growth following 1997 has been in the public sector. So clearly expenditure in public services must be trimmed – but then we all know that cuts in universities, hospitals or social welfare isn’t a good idea. So rather than say explaining where exactly cuts will occur and risk offending the electorate, the politicians are all quietly tip-toeing around the subject and really giving us very little information for what treatment is to follow May’s election.

This is therefore why there is still everything to play for in this election. The vast majority of votes on both the left and right are soft, other than the die-hards and fundamentalists very few have truly made up their mind and there’s no telling what we’ll do when we’re left alone in private to put pen to paper.

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Written by Robert Dale

April 4, 2010 at 11:50 am

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