Let’s raise a glass to our brave allies – the “enemies of enterprise”
Itâ€™s back. Greed is once more good. Who would have thought that the evil old Tory lie about selfishness being an act of patriotism, profit-making a shining civic virtue, would reappear so soon in all its ugly splendour?
The Prime Minister has learned from Tony Blair the importance of telling people what they want to hear, but there can be no doubt that at the recent Tory conference he was talking to his own people from the heart. He was being unusually sincere.
The glory of our nation, the message went, lies in those saintly emblems of freedom, energy, generosity and individuality, the go-getting business people Â Â – roofers, builders, bankers (actually, he forgot the bankers for some reason).
And who is it who stands in the way of the glorious revolution of these bright-eyed patriots? The bureaucrats, of course: the red-tape merchants, the backroom fiddlers and interferers, the busybody regulation-makers. They are â€“ Boo! Hiss! Wave your copy of the Daily Mail in anger! â€“ the â€œenemies of enterpriseâ€.
As that old hack John Junor used to say, â€œPass the sick-bag, Aliceâ€.
I have seen these heroes of Cameronâ€™s brave new world at work, pushing for a new supermarket to destroy local businesses and blight market towns, bullying and lying in support of energy developments which will bring millions of (public) money to them but ruin a landscape and a community for negligible Â gain to anybody else but themselves. The motive of these people is brutally clear: to make as much money for themselves, whatever the consequences for other people.
Who stood between them and another pigâ€™s trough of private profit? Who made the arguments on behalf of the less moneyed and powerful? Who was there to consider non-financial factors, such as public health and welfare, quality of life, the environment, the landscape? Why, none other than those enemies of enterprise, the bureaucratsÂ – or specifically, in the Prime Ministerâ€™s profoundly cynical words, the â€œtown hall officials who take ages to make planning decisionsâ€.
So much for localism and giving communities a voice in their own future. So much for the greenest government ever. So much for fairness. All that matters, as much for Cameronâ€™s government as Thatcherâ€™s in the past, is private profit.
At least we now know where the government stands. The rest of us have a simple choice. Who do we trust to make decisions about our future and our environment: a Cameron go-getter with his sleeves rolled up and his eyes firmly fixed on his bankÂ balance, or a public servant trying to balance the different interests within a community on behalf of us all?
If those are the alternatives, Iâ€™m with the enemies of enterprise every time.