23 Feb 2010

Has politics been turned on its head?

A rare moment for me: a close-quarters encounter with half a dozen CEOs and chairmen of FTSE 100 top flight blue chip companies – telecoms, finance, energy, and more.

A strangely upbeat crew. Intriguingly, I did not detect a great lust for political change. Stranger too I detected a strong, though not universal degree of confidence in the present Chancellor, but more curiously I did find a universal unease about the management and leadership of Conservative economic policy.

So have these industrial and commercial titans gone native? Are the embers of New Labour somehow their plaything? Has the prospect of additional gongs to their knighthoods, peerages and the rest, lost none of the lustre of old, despite parliament’s present low repute? Or are we witnessing a strange high level revolution unfolding out there in the Square Mile.

Has Labour quite simply, despite all, become the party of Big Business? Has politics been turned on its head, with the Tories the now self-declared party of “workers” co-operatives?

I concluded the mood rested on something a little more solid in terms of respect than the above. Multi-national bosses do not elect governments, but so near an election I was, as I say, intrigued.

As regards bullying – not one of my informants was shocked by the “Brown revelations” .

Every one of them expressed the view that the reported behaviour is entirely consistent with high-pressure leadership activity.

Churchill was conjured as were a number of industry bosses whom I won’t name. Indeed the thought was expressed that if the prime minister of the day did not lose his rag at regular intervals – bang the table, tug the lapels, and the rest there would be something seriously awry.

There was a sense that tugging the Whitehall blancmange into focused activity was enough to test anyone’s patience.

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