If You Want To End Wars and Stuff, You Gotta Sing Loud.
I have 4 hours to complete this blog before our Education Secretary of State declares me “an enemy of promise.” My, how he would have loved to be a petty official in Stalinist Russia where being an enemy of the state had direr consequences than splutterings at the “Kick ‘em out and Hang ‘em Conference”
My policy on exam entry makes me a “cheat…gaming the system” – a particularly inelegant attempt at modern computer jargon I fear. Michael, someone should have told you about blowing, and other verbs, in the wind.
Away from mea maxima culpa(s) for a moment, I want to celebrate the world of business. I had a terrible moment last week when the new Iranian President Rouhani, was suggesting peace and conciliation at the United Nations. Fear shot through our impressively large Arms Industry that we may lose sales usually based on the fear of foreigners. It is essential that we support our businessmen selling weapons to potential enemies. When we joined the Dutch, French, Germans and Americans in selling chemical weapons to Sadam Hussein, the British economy profited from such brave business ventures. 5,000 Kurdish people died but we need a thriving economy at all costs. And like the guy who sells dodgy designer drugs to young people, if he doesn’t do it someone else will. Personally I want to cut down on imports by selling flick knives and fireworks to our children before they go on school trips to France.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, instructed his delegates not to attend the Iranian guy’s conciliatory address to the United Nations with a none too cheery, “None of that, we don’t believe you.” This at a time when the world so wants to believe that the Israeli government is seeking long term peace in the Middle East. But if no-one listens to anyone I guess the arms dealers will have a field day. Ironically perhaps, we sold the chemicals Iraq used in their war against Iran, too.
In October 2013 a parliamentary body (CAEC) reported that Britain, “has sold industrial materials to Syria that could have been used to make sarin.” MPs questioned more than 3,000 UK government endorsed export licences worth over £12 billion to 27 countries on the government’s own list of nations “of human rights concern.” £7.8 billion of these sales were to Israel with the Saudis coming in for £1.9 billion. It is important to sell weapons to countries free of political bias. Hey ho , hey ho, it’s off to work we go, just as our Home Secretary promises to withdraw us from the international Human Rights Convention.We need a vibrant, creative business community to create greater wealth for the people of the UK. It’s a shame that our previously adored finance sector made a few minor errors leading to an international recession. Thankfully the EU’s attempt to limit bankers’ bonuses to 200% of salary has been condemned by our Chancellor Osbourne. Limit their bonuses for wrecking international finance and the bankers will all go a long way away. That would be bad, wouldn’t it?
As an aside: We are at that time in the life of a parliament when the preening, romancing , blaggarding and bribery begins in earnest. Red Ed Milliband announced a 20 month energy price freeze. Mr Osbourne has offered a 20 month petrol price freeze. The Lib Dems are secretly planning a real life fluffy rabbit whilst the free “UKIP like doing it on their own” sticker may sway us all.
Every August when news is sparse I hear the denunciation of our young people by the unanimously adorated sector of society: employers, aka businessmen. Now these people know everything and they are very moral, very fair and incredibly wise. All of them. The views of employers should be taken as ultimate truth as they live in “the real world.” It is a well known fact that employers are infallible. Before anyone thinks I’m not entirely serious here, I have to point out that I, too, claim omniscience, and omnipotence. I am a businessman with a turnover of £6 million , employ 130 staff and managed capital projects of £3 million in the last 3 years. I may also be omnivorous just for fun.
But! I have been summarily dismissed by a pet food deliverer, a flip flop seller (going for £1 as I speak), a drunken builder, a seller of cheap music tapes in East Ham Market, a masonic pub manager in Wales and a drugged up security consultant in Ware for being out of touch with the world of business. All have claimed residence in the real world and condemned me to a Narnia like fantasy world where marshmallows trees and lemonade skies populate my brief working day.Employers say kids are leaving school at 16 unready, ill prepared and lacking the skills to seamlessly enter the job market and they want us to do something about it. I think this is disgraceful and I want to launch a campaign to rectify this. I want to call this campaign, “An End To This Sort of Thing,” hoping Father Ted wont mind whilst I end all employment based training, reducing labour costs, increasing profits and giving customers more realistic expectations of quality.
If you go to a garage for an MOT, tyre change or estimate on repairs insist that all work is carried out by someone straight from school. If they offer a trained, experienced employee walk away. Insist on bread baked by a 16 year old who has not had any on the job training; only buy a house, sign employment contracts or agree a divorce settlement if the legalities are guaranteed by a 16 year old. Brain surgery by a kid in July of Year 11 may shorten waiting lists as well as life expectancy. Plumbers, bus drivers, fireman, police officers….you see where this is going. The only job I know of where you do not need on the job training is The UK Parliament where MPs generally show that they require few skills and have had very limited training.Kids leave school with lots of skills and, if we are lucky, an enthusiastic positive outlook on the next stage of their lives. Employers always needed to train workers in every single job. The only change is that employers would like to reduce labour costs by getting someone else to do the training.
I do realize that employers and businesspeople have a massive amount to contribute to society but are they all the purest creators of individual and national wealth?
A friend of mine worked as Chief International Lawyer for a massive building company and drew up contracts for a number of multi million pound schemes in Africa, shafting developing countries on maintenance contracts.
When I was lucky enough to be on a senior management training week with a major international bank, my question as to priorities was answered, “We will do everything legal to earn a profit. Money is our sole consideration.” Plain speaking is great.One employer I worked for instructed my brother-in-law to work unprotected in an asbestos ridden subway and me to climb out a 2nd floor window to stand on a ledge and paint the windows. Mind you, they were well into sharp practices, those brothers.
I have been told that it’s good policy to avoid tax and that the guys doing the books at Starbucks, Amazon, Google et al should be applauded not condemned for paying very little tax.
I know employers who have said they will not employ women of childbearing age, that they need to pay less than the minimum wage, that zero hours contracts ensure employment opportunities. All white companies are not a rarity; companies where the workforce is female and the directors are male are not unique.
I have heard of businesses that go bust, renege on redundancy payments and then start up again, owing other businesses the vital money to survive.
I have read of businesses both large and small that pollute our air, rivers and seas. The sainted Lord Sugar declares that, “There’s no room for sentiment in business and the blessed Branson laid off one of his best mates at a moment’s notice. Employers care so much about their compatriots, neighbours and communities that they will buy stuff in any country in the world if there’s even a few pence extra profit. Mind you they give us what we want: why didn’t anyone think Primark’s cheap clothes were made by Bangladeshis in a firetrap building?
So, to education. Employers want us to produce kids with better communication skills; Gove has abolished speaking and listening as examined skills. Gove wants everyone to get a C or better in English and Maths and says those who fail will have to keep taking the exams until they pass. At the same time he has ordered that more young people fail to reach these grades and he abhors resits. I am an enemy of promise if I give them a second chance. At a time when the jobs of the future have not been invented he wants us to instill more and more facts by rote learning. If all you want to do in life is recite facts you might as well be a signpost at the side of the road.
We need enterprise; we should respect investment, praise entrepreneurs and recognize that we need creative risk takers at the forefront of our society. We are materialistic and we want a higher standard of living. Our lifestyles are unrecognizably better than 50 years ago and it would be great to have more wealth creators creating wealth for the people of the UK, if not the world. Thing is though, I’m liberal to a degree and I’m not sure I want prosperity by selling bombs and stuff to kill other people's children.
October 1st 2013