As an avowed eurosceptic I have followed the attempts of the British people to break free from the European Union with interest. In the run up to the UK referendum in June 2016 I was keen to analyse the tactics followed by both sides in the context of how these tactics could either be mirrored or mitigated against when Ireland eventually has to face a similar choice. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, it is obvious the role played by both the business community and the media is hugely important.
Based on what I have seen, both the wider business community and the media worked tirelessly to engineer a ‘remain’ vote in the UK’s 2016 referendum on EU membership.
Having been defeated in the referendum, the business community and their media allies, rather than graciously accept defeat as democrats would do, have now turned to other tactics in order to overturn the will of the people. One of those tactics involves the British people (and Irish for that matter) being confronted with an almost daily litany of stories emanating from one business after another whining about the alleged consequences of Brexit.
Recently we were treated to lead news stories on television of one such company, Airbus, threatening to pull out of the United Kingdom if Britain does not stay in the Single Market. Nothing is clearer than the filmed interviews with David Cameron and others in the run up to the referendum in which they unequivocally state that Britain would leave the Single Market if the British people voted to leave the EU. Anybody with half an iota of knowledge about the Single Market knows that access to it requires the UK to remain subordinate to the rule of the European Court of Justice which, as we all know is a political court. Is that what the British people voted for? It most certainly is not.
Airbus for example is a company whose shares are traded in France, Germany and Spain. The individuals that operate at the apex of the Airbus organisation have a political agenda driven in large part by the specifics of what the ‘Airbus’ business entity is. These men and women are not idiots, they know full well what David Cameron said but this is a new phase in the ‘war’ to keep Britain from leaving the EU. ‘It doesn’t matter what the idiots voted for, here is what they will get’ seems to be the ‘business’ view.
Interference by companies such as Airbus in the affairs of the United Kingdom is pernicious. Yet it goes unchallenged precisely because the media no longer serve as journalists in the noble pursuit of ‘truth’. The media have become little more than agenda driven commentators preening for an audience of half-wits. As an aside, am I the only one who has noticed the daily lead story on Sky News lately appears to be a lecture about some social issue or other be that single use plastic or migrants floating about the Mediterranean? The remote control comes in quite handy.
Returning to the topic at hand, the lead story in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 26th June 2018, states that Greg Clark, the UK’s Business secretary (a Cabinet ‘remainer’), at a recent speech in London praised the “business voice” that puts “evidence before ideology”. He speaks of “ideology” as if it is a bad thing, as if people should always act free of ideology.
But ideology is the collection of beliefs and values that we as individuals hold. To suggest we act contrary to our beliefs and values is ridiculous.
And as for the ‘business voice’, if this wasn’t such a serious issue it would be almost laughable. ‘Business’ has no standing at the ballot box. It is a principle as old as democracy itself that there is ‘one man,one vote’. Human beings vote, not bodies corporate.
Business does however have one important part to play in the democratic process and it is not an altogether benign role. Many businesses are contributors to political parties and myriad lobby groups that infest our democracy like the plague. This enables that which is all important to business, “access” to decision-makers. In effect, money grants this access and one can be forgiven for perceiving a threat to democracy posed by an open cheque book and a sneaky agenda, one that is in the interests of Greg Clark’s ‘business voice’ and not in the interests of ordinary people.
The next time you hear a business such as Airbus or German multinational BMW bemoaning the British people’s democratic decision to leave the Single Market remember that BMW doesn’t vote for anything. BMW stands for nothing except the commercial interests of BMW. BMW will seek to undermine anything which makes its operations more difficult. BMW cares not a damn for Britain nor for that matter does it care a damn for Ireland.
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