Tuesday, June 6

To Protect and Promote

by Peter Troy

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) should not say, ''What can Small Businesses do for Europe'' but, ''what can Europe do for Small Businesses?''.

The FSB (over 190,000 members) published last Thursday, both on its web site and in paper,
a report, which makes no concessions at all to the views of most of its members. Promoted as "the FSB's blueprint for small firms in the EU", the report demonstrates clearly a policy shift from one of active opposition to one of willing 'partnership and co-operation' with the European Union (EU).
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The arguments outlining the EU's undemocratic, anti-business, corrupt and negative interference in the process of British business have been frequently outlined on this blog. The obvious way to stop the EU interfering with increasing amounts of regulation that stifle the growth and threaten the prosperity of the UK's entrepreneurial class, is to leave the political project of the EU. Granted that is not a simple issue, but clearly it is a desirable one. Most small business people echo these views - if not in those precise terms.

The fact that the FSB has produced such a perverse report, one which is the opposite to the interests and expressed majority wishes of its membership, is indeed evidence that the UK 's largest member owned 'pressure group' is now, regrettably, ignoring the democratically expressed views of its members.
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What, it must be asked, is the point in selecting motions for debate at conferences and voting for matters of great importance to business people if those that manage the Federation ignore the views of the rank and file membership ?
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Sticky fingers ? Peter Troy and FSB National Vice-Chairman, John Wright - sample the gravy !

Twice the members of the FSB via their branch delegates voted to leave the EU - not to work in partnership with it !
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In 1995 the delegates at the Federations Annual Conference in Torquay voted by a small majority following a heated vote to leave the EU.

In 2001 at the FSB's conference in Plymouth, held at the height of the Foot and Mouth crises, I proposed, from the podium, a motion (seconded by the now Chairman of the North East Region of the FSB) calling for the FSB to demand the repeal of the European Communities Act of 1973 (and all subsequent legislation) and thus withdraw from the EU.

Following a debate the branch delegates voted 68 per cent in favour of the motion.

I was heavily criticised by the Federation's 'don't disturb the horses' fraternity even before the vote was announced. I had to protest ''in the strongest possible terms' to the conference organisers who intended (once the vote had been counted) to delay the announcement till later in the day - when the press had left.

The management of the FSB did not adopt the policy of leaving the EU despite the overwhelming support for the motion on that sunny Saturday in March 2001.

In response to my continuing to question, (particularly over the past 12 months, detailed on this blog) the pro-New Labour stance of the FSB in the North East, the Regional Committee recently voted (I am verbally advised) to send me to 'Coventry'. Yes, they actually voted to formally ignore me despite the fact that I am a member.

The voice of the rank and file FSB members has clearly stated, and continues to do so, that the EU is bad for businesses and wants out.

The FSB's declared objectives are to protect and promote the interests of small businesses; not the EU.
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For furter comment see: Gone over to the enemy by Dr Richard North http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2006/06/gone-over-to-enemy.html
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Also, Beef and Gravy
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It is important to read 'Hand Arm Vibration Regulators':
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7 comments:

Sarah Hopperty said...

Intresting article, Peter.

The FSB report does make some good points. However, it's conclusion to work in partnership with the EU is quite wrong, they are indeed the enemy of small businesses.

The biggest challenge that we face is how to get business people to understand how Britian is now governed ?

Andrew Edwards said...

Seems like the FSB has been hijacked. Let's hope you can remove the
cancer before it spreads too far. Thanks for the info though.

Richard said...

It's been hijacked for some time... the only difference is that they're so brazenly confident now that they've come out into the open.

Jane Snozama said...

The FSB's change of policy was not discussed with activists or members before the document was published last week. I for one want to know why ?

David Noakes said...

I delivered a General Election hustings speech to the FSB in Truro, Cornwall, in April 2005 and asked for a vote on how many would like to leave the EU. 67% voted in favour.

If the FSB leadership is not acting on their members wishes, then clearly the leadership should be removed. A number of British organisations have been penetrated by EU organisations like Common Purpose, is the FSB one of them?

JB said...

I have just read the latest edition ogf the FSB mag. There are four pages devoted to the new office in Brussels and the new FSB Policy. As you say Peter, the membership were not consulteed. I think you should propose an other motion at the next confrence to leave the EU ! The result I have no doubt will confirm that the rank and file of the business community wont out of the EU !!

Go for it and don't let the buggers grind you down.

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