Takeovers, Takedowns and Meltdowns.
I woke up this morning with my mind on an old customer whose story I would like to share. I don’t wish to name names, so, as it amuses me, I will call them Dave, Ed & Nick LLP. They were a customer for the best part of a decade. I personally looked after their account and every other day would be talking to their excellent general manager John who ran the show for the owners, taking his orders, sorting out his problems, make sure his supplies and equipment arrived when he wanted them where he wanted them, keeping him happy. A wonderful chap, an expert (yes, I know expertise is so last year), keeping his employer’s ship on a steady course for many years. John knew what he was doing. Sometimes he dropped a clanger or would make totally unreasonable demands and I would be swearing and muttering to myself around the office as I tried to figure out a solution that would get him out of a fix. I always did and often it cost us money and he wasn’t always as grateful as I would have liked, but he always paid the bills and gave a fair price. Our working relationship was both excellent and mutually beneficial.
Then out of the blue the Dave, Ed & Nick LLP partners all wanted to retire and sell up. John decided to go to pastures new and his assistant, Ben was put in his place. We were assured there would be no change, we would have the exact same benefits and relationship with the new permutation of the company. Of course, the inevitable unravelling started quickly. The calls from Ben were full of unspoken anxiety and stress, you could almost feel him shrinking in the middle of the circle of wagons as he came under siege. Their accounts department dragged their feet, Ben’s budget was squeezed, customers started to leave them in droves. I would have to stop supplies until invoices were paid, never happened before. It turned out that the new owners were not interested in job creation, or investing for growth, they were not interested in the existing staff or the long history of the company. They had used lies to keep staff on board. The prize in their sights was the prime property the company owned which was right in the middle of an area of intense redevelopment for buy to let luxury apartments. They were running the company down for the cashflow whilst they got a developer on board, which they did. Within a year the company which had operated for 30 years was dead, redundancy notices handed out. The plaque on the swish new apartments should read RIP Dave, Ed & Nick LLP you served us well but well, we couldn’t be bothered with all that work malarkey and besides we made more money this way.
Why do I tell you this story you ask? An everyday story of business surely. Well I am no politician or historian, so I see the world through the lens of everyday life. I see a parallel in the current body politic. Like my customer it has been broken and taken over by asset strippers and opportunists, people who have leveraged populism to take control. I am shocked by what has happened in the last 8 years. The electorate sold its votes to the highest bidders, fed up with stagnant wage growth and self-serving over familiar plastic politicians. Conservatives under David Cameron bowed to pressure from the extremes within and sold their Tory souls to the UKIP agenda of division and blaming the Other to deflect from the fact that their own policies were woefully inadequate in addressing the post 2008 climate of poor growth and financial crisis. Now under the cosh of a referendum result which she knows is damaging and makes no sense, May is caught in the death grip of the ERG who are pushing us steadily towards a disastrous Brexit. The Tory back benchers, mostly remain realists originally, are invested so heavily in the folly of the great Willerthepeople Project that they are refusing to acknowledge we are all at the mercy of a small number of Billionaire disaster capitalists who are pushing their Brexit agenda for personal benefits, the acquisition of money and power, at the expense of millions of people around the country. These people count their pounds, euros and dollars, whilst most of us will count the cost in pounds, in tax burden, in family lives, in jobs, in closed businesses, in lost family and friends from the EU27 community who are fed up of being depicted by press and politicians alike as a problem rather than a part of our community. Look at Jacob Rees Mogg talking about the Northern Ireland Border. He cares not a jot for the ordinary people of the United Kingdom. Nor does Boris Johnson who has dodged and wavered and lied and twisted direction. Who would trust him? These people are not our friends, yet they hover malevolently in the background threatening May’s leadership to get their way.
But what of the HM opposition you ask? They got a shiny new management too and the launch party was indeed super exciting and remarkable. People were swept up in the fever of enthusiasm of a new (to them) face who appeared to be speaking so plainly and selling his politics of hope and simple solutions.
Beware though, they are gambling with the Politics of Catastrophe as much as the government is. They have consistently failed to point out to their constituents what a damaging thing Brexit is. Most of their supporters know and can see that but these are politically engaged individuals. The average constituent has no idea and barely an interest in what is in store. The correct responsible response to the referendum result would have been to press for a thorough review of what the result meant, what would be the consequences and if necessary some consensus as to what a desired realistic endpoint to aim towards if it was decided by parliament to trigger the A50. Yet the shadow front bench sat back and let it all happen. Totally blind, totally clueless they supported the government in triggering the A50. When challenged they wring their hands. What can we do? We have 6 tests. Will of the People. Honour the referendum. We have no say. Well the six tests have already failed under any kind of Brexit so what now? What are they doing? Are they waiting for government to fail and pick up an election win and possibly an opportunity to bring in their own Corbynomics agenda?
Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, all fully anti Brexit but unless we live in Scotland it’s difficult to feel our remaining options will get us very far, especially given the continuing hostility shown towards the Lib Dems by Labour and their refusal to work together with them effectively against the government on Brexit. Perhaps we should all move to Scotland.
Young people have been shafted so much by Tories they will not be joining any time soon in big numbers. Labour membership Is at healthy levels, but the writing was on the wall for me personally during the 2015 leadership election. I saw long and frequent threads on Twitter and Facebook filled with vitriolic diatribes towards Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall and a little to Andy Burnham. Liz got the worst of the abuse. This was from so called labour members and supporters. I see some of the same twitter accounts to this day in nasty aggressive threads about anti-Semitism or Brexit telling people to go away and vote tory and how they are responsible for people dying at the hands of Tories by being critical of labour strategies. I left Labour because of Brexit, but to be honest I heaved a big sigh of relief that I no longer have to be embroiled in these kinds of internal discussions. They started the tone with this level of aggression towards dissenters and are surprised that it has now come back to bite them in a very public meltdown being covered in the news. The internal language of labour is now toxic to its core. I don’t think I am the only one who has been totally turned off by this nonsense.
The Body Politic is broken. All parliamentarians have contributed to this either by their actions or inaction and it is parliamentarians who must fix it. New alliances between sensible minded MPs and Peers and MEPs REGARDLESS OF PARTY who believe in doing the right thing need to be forged using their agreement on the Brexit issue to try and defeat these extremes who between them are driving us to the disastrous consequences outside the EU as a third country. But it’s not just about Brexit, these alliances must push back against the wider implications of these extremes which are creating a political landscape of intolerance, where debate has been replaced by gaslighting and dog whistles and the abdication of personal responsibility.
All I can do is raise my one voice to MPs and potential MPs and say very clearly whoever wants my vote in the future will have to prove to me they have earned it by showing the courage and good sense in standing up right now against this disastrous attempted takeover of UK Plc by ideologues, fools and Wreckers.
I hope you will all use your voices too.