Wednesday, 29 December 2010

CBI economics is busted flush

Interesting to read the thoughts of CBIScotland (or at least its Chair - Iain McMillan) in the Herald today (29 December). No doubt this was taken from a ‘end-of-year message’ press release used by many organisations to get some press coverage at a thin time of the year.
You might think that, as the representative body of private sector organisations, including finance companies who bear the responsibility for the economic crisis and the attacks on public funding by the Tories, the CBI might be expressing some contrition for putting us all through this - but no. Mr McMillan has the effrontery to chastise the Scottish Government (and other political parties apparently) for not following the CBI’s preferred course out of the economic crisis!
Just for the record this includes - cutting public spending and so-called ‘red tape’, increased PFI, using more private firms to deliver public services, selling-off Scottish Water, and building more nuclear power plants. (He grudgingly welcomes the council tax freeze - despite the damage that this has already done to local services and indeed local businesses who depend on public work).
Thus the CBI show that they have learned nothing from their members’ failings in too lightly regulated markets. Cut red tape? We should be demanding that banks and other finance companies are penalised for the damage they have done to our economy. Increase privatisation? Far from exposing more services to private sector risk, we should accept that this risk will always lie with the public sector, and supply these services publicly - not via expensive and poor value private companies. 
I hold no brief for the Scottish Government - indeed there are many areas where I could be even more critical than Mr McMillan - but his analysis of the economic situation would lead us even deeper into the mire of stagnation and even recession. Just watch what ConDem policies - slavishly following a big business line - deliver for us at UK level
But apparently defending public services and public funding is ‘populist’. According to oor Iain “...real leadership is about doing the right things for Scotland at the right time and explaining why they are necessary.” Given the track record of the UK business community in losing trillions of pounds and then screaming for a huge public handout, I think we can see why ‘the right things’ are unlikely to be done by the CBI, and why it has forfeited all credibility as a business leader.
And a memo to Iain Gray. Just because someone is having a go at the SNP - it is not always in your (or our) interests to agree with them. The old Maoist doctrine of ‘The enemy  of my enemy, is my friend.” has led China’s leaders into some very strange alliances over the years. In the run up to an election, to be seen to side with the busted flush of big business will not gain support.

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