As is so often the case when your columnist George Pitcher strays from business into politics his analysis is underpinned by the sort of chinless corporatism that characterises the policies of certain sections of the UK business community. This was illustrated when he attacked the Government’s policy of fighting for Britain’s interests in Europe, “Major attack on Euro enemies will hit British business hard”.
Like many Europhiles who attack the Prime Minster in increasingly personal terms (in Pitcher’s case for a “cynical piece of product marketing”), he stresses how bad it would be for Britain’s business if the UK withdrew from the European Union. This ignores the fact that the Prime Minster himself has made this point many times. Indeed, far from being “isolationist”, Major’s policy is both level headed and long-overdue.
Ironically, every single example cited by Pitcher to make his case that we have treated our European partners so badly over the years can be used to illustrate exactly the opposite. For instance, Sir Colin Marshall, chairman of British Airways – and a man who knows a thing or two about international markets – would probably be quite happy if the Government took a tougher line with European Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock for his recent decision allowing even more state aid for government-owned airline Iberia.
As for Britain’s financial services interests, which Pitcher uses to back up his arguments for a softly-softly approach, the Europeans have been about as willing to create a truly free market in this sector over the past decade as they now are to listen to the overwhelming scientific evidence on the safety of British beef.
Clearly Britain has had problems in getting the message across that we want to play a major part in developing a single market, where the people of each member state can deploy their creativity and talents while delighting in their differences through free enterprise. This is hardly surprising when certain opinion formers in the business community, like Pitcher, are so willing to see a major British industry such as beef treated so badly for fear of upsetting our European partners. Make no mistake, those partners in turn would not let a similarly important industry in their own countries be treated in this way.
It’s time to stick our chins out Mr Pitcher. Time to stand up for Britain, business and beef.
Head of communications
Time Manager International