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Brown's new corporatism

Many, many years ago, the governments of Wilson and Callaghan would host meetings with trade union leaders which were dubbed 'beer and sandwich' sessions. While the reason for meeting with the Gormleys and Murrays of this world was largely due to Wilson lacking the ideology and the courage to stop them from holding the taxpayer to ransom, there was an attempt to present the process as being representative of the corporate state - the idea being that there were a range of power centres in the land, based on functional groups that negotiated with each other, so to speak, Back in the mid 80s when I was suffering some of the duller aspects of constitutional law at UCL (a lukewarm bed of SDP activists, by the way) I roundly dismissed the idea that the corporate state could be said to exist in the UK, given that Thatcher was brooking rather less nonsense from (some) special interests than her predecessors.

Anyway, The Worst Prime Minister Since Goderich (1) would seem to be intent on resurrecting corporatism, in that his favourite way of filling time between sessions of nail-biting seems to be to meet with some group or other and then to present it as showing how in touch, and how dynamic he is, how he cracks heads, kicks backsides, takes names etc etc. So, the other week it was 'the bankers', and next up he will 'host a meeting of food producers, retailers and consumers today to deal with the growing world food crisis'.

'Deal with'. Savour that, if you will. The attendees list shows a list comprised largely of quangocrats, NGO-istas and political types. The nearest one gets to the sharp end of growing food is some bod from the NFU. There's also a chap from Sainsburys. 'Deal with?' I will offer the traditional odds of Lombard Street to a rotten orange that they will not 'deal with' anything, but rather will chat away for a bit and achieve precisely nothing beyond a photo opportunity for Brown.

Where Brown differs from Wilson / Callaghan, is that none of the groups being dealt with can be said to have their hands around his throat yet, more's the pity. Rather than seeing these people because he has no choice, or doing it as per the spin, I would suggest that Brown is doing it as an exercise in blame shifting. Instead of taking responsibility for policy failures, and recognising that the game is up when it comes to blaming previous Tory administrations, Brown's latest trick is to make those he drags along to his meetings complicit in his errors. That the people are vain enough to be his useful idiots is dispiriting. I would hope that at least one banker, industrialist or whatever will be prepared to kiss goodbye to a knighthood and risk being monstered in what remains of the tame media - BBC, Grauniad, Mirror etc - by either publicly refusing to attend such a meeting, or else to emerge from No. 10 and declare quite how shambolic it is in the bunker. I'm not holding my breath.


(1) From the No 10 site:

"...Goderich lacked support among his colleagues and in his party, and he was not up to the task of running a quarrelling Cabinet. Goderich had difficulty in coping practically and emotionally. He resigned after four months in office, before he had achieved anything of note.

He also used to burst into tears at the dispatch box.

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Blogger Blue Eyes said... 12:55 pm

The most effective thing that can be "done" about world food prices can't be "done" by anybody in this country. The fate of the world's hungry lies with M Sarkozy, of course. I bet Brown doesn't have the Balls to summon *him*...  



Blogger Ross said... 4:01 pm

Food prices will start falling on their own account anyway once the current high prices encourage 3rd world producers to mechanise their farms and use more modern fertilisers.

When this happens all the politicians who have proposed pointless measures to solve the problem will claim the credit.  



Blogger Mountjoy said... 10:36 am

World price rises will continue. The developed world will resist any industrialisation or modernisation of farming in Africa and elsewhere ... protectionism is the name of the game. It wasn't just the corn laws, you know.  



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