Saturday, February 5

Politics Matters

Spike Milligan once said when asked for a comment on politics: ''One day the don't knows will get in, and then were will we be''.

Political issues matter, apathy especially for people in business is not an option. Quite simply, if business people do not take an interest in political issues then politics will soon take an interest in them. To pretend otherwise is to deny the facts of life.

Not all of what is printed in newspapers or reported on television and the radio will actually impact for good or bad on people. There is a need to distinguish between the soap opera aspects of politics, purely party political issues and the business relevant issues. It is clearly one of the functions of pressure groups and indeed webbloggs to fully explain the effects of proposed government policy on the process of peoples lives. To know an issue is to understand an issue.

To be a ''don't know'' is not a luxury anyone, particularly those in business, can afford.

It has been my view that for some time the true government of this country these days resides in Brussels. It is for this reason that I indend to propose a motion at the forthcomming Federation of Small Business (FSB) confrence, expressing concern that the EU Commission is by definition of its remit unable to oblige the Federation and adopt a policy of deregulation.

One need only look back a few years to the Foot and Mouth Crisis to find an illustration of how politicians (or rather the failure of politicians) threatened the very existence of many businesses. The disaster and particularly the financial and human cost is well documented as well as being a very painful memory to many of our members.
At the time of the epidemic I was instrumental in persuading the FSB to adopt a policy of demanding a public inquiry in to the causes, management and effects of the crisis. The government ignored the demand and produced three tame reports which is, in my view, reason enough for strong and effective non governmental pressure groups to exist !

The political process (and politicians) will interfere as much or as little as we, the voters, will allow them. All regulations are born from the political process. The politicians we elect are, or should be, accountable for the cost of the regulatory burden, the more regulations the greater the cost. Last year the Institute of Directors and the Better Regulation Task Force separately estimated that the cost to businesses of complying with the vast volume of rules and red tape was 12.5 per cent of the nations GDP. That is an amazing 1,000 billion pounds, each year.
Now if that is not something to talk to politicians about I don't know what is !
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Peter Troy was a Branch Chairman of the FSB from December1999 - February 2005.
In March 2002 Peter drove through a motion at the Federations Annual Confrence calling for the FSB to demand that HMG repeal 'The European Communities Act 1972 (and all subsequent Acts)'. The consequence of which would be withdrawl of the UK from the European Union.
The motion was accepted by the representitives of the UK's 3 million small business community by a majority of 2:1.

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