Sunday, October 24

Of Mandelson, Brown and Prescott

Peter Mandelson smiled and said it was a pertinent yet politically orientated question.

Clearly it was so politically orientated that the former Hartlepool MP and newly appointed UK's Commissioner to the EU, replied but did not directly answer my question; indeed a complement. The Rt. Hon. Peter Mandelson is a shrewd political operator, an important political figure who has been appointed by the new EU President as the EUs all powerful Trade Commissioner and as such is a part of the process of government of this country.

Many feel that it is reassuring to know that the North East of England will have its adopted son in a position of influence at the 'heart of Europe' giving a boost to Chancellor Gordon Brown's message of much needed Economic regeneration for the North East. Peter Mandelson has on more than one occasion been reported as saying he will be keen to continue to support the North East.

Reassuring as Mr Mendelson's offers of ongoing help for the North East may be the truth is, as I suggested to Commissioner Mandelson, he is in fact unable to serve two masters. The oath that he will swear at the European Court of Justice on 1 November is to '' perform my duties in complete independence,in the general interest of EU Community neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government .......'' Hence my politically orientated question as to how he could promote North East issues when he will swear an oath not to do so ?

Some fellow activists of this blog editor in the Federation of Small Businesses query whether political issues are indeed business issues. I argue that political matters effect the process of business and are thus relevant to those in businesses. Politics is about ideas, ideas are needed to develop society. A healthy economy is vital so that businesses can flourish. In order to flourish society needs to be lead, leaders need ideas. Ideas is what politics is about which unless I am missing the point, questions about ideas need to be put to the increasing number of politicos that seek the attentions of business organisations.

Mindful of this I was very keen to be being able to put a double whammy of a question to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor when they addressed a meeting of business people in Newcastle I held my hand up at the start of the question and reply session. At the end of the session my arm ached with anticipation. The meeting Chairman did not call me to pose my question. Perhaps it was feared that I would take advantage of the presence of the two senior politicians to ask another politically orientated question. Perhaps some of my colleagues sitting cheek by jowl with me that morning were relieved; after all it would never do to discuss politics would it ?

Specifically I was intending to ask Messers Brown and Prescott what is the key difference between devolution and regionalisation. The answer is important since the former is what the Scots voted for and have, also what the Southern Irish were granted after the First World War. Regionalisation in the UK was rejected by Branch Delegates at the annual Federation of Small Businesses Conference in March by over 80%. A recent survey revealed a similar percentage rejection by business in the North East.

On the 4th November if the latest MORI Poll is correct the people of the North East well reject the option of an Elected Regional Assembly by a margin of at least 7 %. That rejection will also be a rejection of the Governments regionalisation in England. Now that will be a real nightmare for the Deputy Prime Minister.

A word of caution before anyone considers a celebration or perhaps a wake, MORI Polls can be wrong. If MORI was correct in June this Blog editor would now be an MEP !

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