June was a much more sedate lunch as numbers were lower than usual. Although we were few in numbers we were certainly strong in voice. Ironically 30% of the room consisted of new faces which goes to show how the biz club continues to grow in support, strength and popularity.
Geoffrey Pointon launched the 2011 biz of the year award and all attending were given a copy of the nomination form and listened to the background to the award and a re-cap of previous winners.
Thoughts then turned to matters in hand and the discussion opened with thoughts on the coalition.
Geoffrey Pointon started the debate by asking ‘will the coalition last with the government doing so many u-turns. Surely they will lose the confidence of the country.’
Phillip King added ‘that he thought it would have collapsed already but felt it would end well before the full term anticipated in order for the two parties separate identities to be redefined.’ He continued ‘that a lot of people have lost faith in the political process and as can be seen historically with David Mellor and Neil Hamilton it can take years to remove bad PR from your image.’ Firstly he said ‘peoples trust and confidence for them to do the right thing both politically and personally is very low and secondly Labour is in a difficult position at the moment with their Leadership and all the media coverage about what Brown and Balls were doing during the London July bombings. The fact that they were plotting to get rid of Blair at the time of a national crisis has done nothing to improve their position. The public have become very dismissive generally of politics.’
A brief pause enabled a round table opinion on how or if the coalition would last. Most felt it would have to end in time for the separate identities to be redefined prior to an election if not sooner.
Phillip King spoke about Labour history and their relationship with the Trade Unions (TUs). Adding that Labour were set up to be an alternative to the Liberals. He felt ‘that Labour are now in a crisis themselves as they are not cohesive as a party or have strong direction.’ Going forward he felt ‘that if there was a new Labour leader that they may not see the merit of being so strongly aligned with the Trade unions.’
Geoffrey Pointon said ‘Blair used “New Labour” to give the impression that the union roots had been left behind but in reality it was not the case when you considering the party funding received from the TUs.’
Geoffrey added ‘that the Labour TU deal enabled the party to gain a lot of blue collar support and a lot of clever people rose through the ranks of the TUs.’
Keith Senior said ‘when you look at the recent Obama visit you recognise how good a speaker he is and how he is engaged with the American people. Our leaders do not have the same connections.’
Anner Fehnert agreed and added ‘that she felt that the coalition would be a new start for the Liberals but it has not transpired.’
Phillip King noted ‘that the Liberals never expected to be in power and this is reflected in the unrealistic policies that they publicised before the election e.g. University Fees the fact that they have not stuck by what they said has left Liberal supporters feeling let down and disenchanted.’
Derick Horsfall agreed and said ‘the Liberals are epitomised by Vince Cable but the minute he is given responsibility he cannot act as a member of the team and it seems a general failing of the party overall.’
Geoffrey Pointon raised the issue of ‘David Laws who broke a number of House of Commons rules by paying rent to a “partner” and mis-designating his main home.’ He felt that there seemed to be selective differences between judgments regarding what could be termed “petty theft” and some MPs or Lords are now serving prison sentences for similar offences. He felt that as David Laws has apologised and stated his motivation was privacy and not financial gain that he seemed to have been treated more leniently. Adding ‘if David Laws had really wanted privacy he would not have involved his partner in his expense claim.’
Anner Fehnert said ‘that this is common in courts now – judgments are often not the same for similar crimes.’
Geoffrey Pointon added that ‘it is clear that they would like Laws back in the future.’ David Cameron he added ‘is not a true conservative as he naturally instincts are politically in the centre.’ sits too much in the centre.’
Derick Horsfall agreed and added ‘DC chooses the centre as he has recognised that compromise seems to equal most votes.’
Geoffrey Pointon felt ‘that it was dangerous not to know the ideology of a prime minister and sited Blair who got into a position of power by sitting in the centre and then made the ‘Iraq decision’. He said ‘if you don’t understand where a politician stands how can you support them.’
Anner Fehnert said ‘next year when the cuts hit home it will be difficult the media are already reporting the UK has high rates of drugs, lawlessness and next will come poverty. DC is trying to show he too is making cuts by travelling on Easyjet but he is from a wealthy background and so is presenting a false image and it will be seen that way.’
Phillip King added ‘Maggie did the opposite and showed that by hard graft came rewards and did not hide what she had or stood for. When the public and the media look at DC he went to Eton and Oxford so was advantaged to start with.’ He added when he was out campaigning in the May AV elections that most people on the doorstep were angry as they did not want a referendum on AV but one on Europe. He said ‘that if an alternative party maybe UKIP got its act together and had a credible leader then they would be very dangerous and a major competitor to the status quo as the general public want a say on Europe.’ He added ‘that the public are still interested in politics but do not feel that they resonate with any party currently.’
Geoffrey Pointon agreed adding ‘that the reality is no-one in high office is prepared to challenge the Europe position and they have become disconnected from public opinion.’ He went on to say in agreement with Phillip King ‘a party with a credible position on Europe would collate a high proportion of votes across the spectrum’ but added ‘UKIP whilst advocating that the UK should “leave” the European Union had failed to lay out a vision of a UK “outside” of the Union.’