Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ed Miliband, predators & producers...

After yesterday's mauling of Andy Burnham trying to explain Labour's new policy on moral capitalism, a germ of enlightenment today from John Denham talking to Andrew Neil. Apparently it's not about 'predators' or 'producers' - despite the explicit wording of yesterday's speech - its about reinforcing the 'right' process in business activities onto a more moral plane - whatever that may be.

This is increasingly looking like an ill thought-through initiative fast unravelling under intelligent analysis... But underneath the stupidity of politicians picking 'good' and 'bad' company's according to how much they like their business practices (isn't that how Fred Goodwin got his knighthood?) I'm increasingly reminded of David Cameron's early speeches on corporate responsibility. At the time he was talking at a smaller scale - products aimed at sexualising young girls, inappropriate placing of sweets around the till - but increasingly Cameron broadened that line to encompass the whole panoply of what has become known as The Big Society. And as Cameron deepened the debate - though few took him up - the more radical 'localism' agenda became deeply entwined.

Today at the labour party conference Yvette Cooper - ever on the Fabian side of democratic accountability - argued against elected police commissioners. Many disagree. I'm very pro-Big Society writes Labour MP Tristram Hunt, and I think it's the Labour tradition, the co-operative, mutualist tradition and I think we need to be doing more of that. And he is not wrong. Perhaps the sub-text of what Ed Miliband awkwardly spoke of yesterday, contains the germ of an idea with which both Cameron and his Coalition allies can run. After all, who could object to company's getting tax breaks for apprenticeship schemes?