Politics and Reality

Chiswick trader Mike Moran on the Government and small business

As The Local Retail Landscape Continues To Change - We take a look at the contributing factors to traders' struggle for survival

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90% of jobs in the UK are in small businesses, but where is the government experience in this field?

Politicians on all sides of Parliament constantly refer to Britain as ‘a nation of small businesses’ and profess their commitment to the workers who keep Britain going, but how can they possibly know what they’re talking about when so many of them went to Oxbridge, moved straight into professional politics and have never had a real job in their lives?

MP’s and ministers should be out walking the high streets of the UK, talking to the people that they have taken jobs and wages from; hearing first –hand what the problems are and what needs to be done to address them. Instead all we get are sterile, pre-planned press conferences where inexperienced theorists reel off statements, slogans and sound-bites prepared by their PR advisors. None of which bears any relationship with the real lives endured by the average Briton.

The VAT reduction is a classic example of the remote, detached thinking that takes place in Whitehall. If a politician or civil servant had walked along any High Street in the UK they would have seen ‘20% off’ and ‘sale’ signs everywhere, so where does the idea that a 2.5% saving would make any difference come from? The answer is a ‘think-tank’, ‘strategy house’ or political theorist, and none of these people have a clue what they doing.

Do you know anyone in the real world who thought it was a good idea when it was announced? Did anyone outside the political arena praise the concept? Did it work? Answers ‘No, no and no’ proves the point that politicians and their shadowy, unelected advisors actually know nothing about business in the UK.

Another example is the treasury’s 5% increase in business rates. If, like me, you lose the traditional relief which ends this year, the increase becomes 12% - in the middle of what the government agrees is the worst recession for nearly 80 years! While billions have gone to underpin a banking system that suffered as a result of self-interested de-regulation and their own greed, nothing is done to support or even assist small business.

Small businesses don’t have huge support staffs, private secretaries or under-secretaries; we don’t have the luxury of guaranteed pensions and honours on retirement; nor the likelihood of a well-paid future job with one of the corporations we’ve aided while in government. Instead all we have is the blood, sweat and tears of honest toil to break even.

So my advice to Mr Brown, his Darling and the lazy, complacent and naive thinkers that enjoy their life of privilege, is to get out of W1 - talk to and listen to the people on the high street, find out what’s actually wrong and get some real advice on how to make a difference. No stunts, no PR, no three-point sound-bites; just honest information from those that know best because we’re the ones suffering.

Mike Moran Top Hat Dry Cleaners

March 19, 2009