In a Guardian article entitled “Boardroom excesses can no longer be tolerated. The economy has to work for all.” Theresa May wrote about how she wants to raise the standards of corporate governance, something that undoubtedly needs doing.
However, there seems to be more than a little of “the pot calling the kettle black” in what she says.
Theresa May said, “We should always aim for the best and never settle for anything less.” It is impossible to disagree with this statement, so why is it all but impossible to get the Government to spell out how their plan for the UK’s future is better than what we have as a member of the EU?
This brings us back to the impact analyses that the Government has apparently not done.
The presence, or absence, of these impact analyses leads us to another of the principles that Theresa May wants to see company directors adhere to: “And, for the first time, businesses will have to demonstrate that they have taken into account the long-term consequences of their decisions.”
If it is essential that businesses demonstrate the long-term consequences of their decisions, a point that no reasonable person could dispute, isn’t it just as important that the government not only applies the same due diligence to its policies, but also demonstrates that it has done so.
Theresa May’s admirable pursuit of corporate accountability leads her to say, “Companies will also have to explain how they take into account their employees’ interests at board level, giving unscrupulous employers nowhere to hide.”
This seems more than a little at odds with the self-serving secrecy surrounding the cabal at the heart of the current government. There is little evidence of consideration of the interests of UK citizens in the Cabinet Room, except of course for the imperative need for them to be able to carry blue passports.
Theresa May also says “Too often, we’ve seen top executives reaping big bonuses for recklessly putting short-term profit ahead of long-term success. Our best businesses know that is not a responsible way to run a company and those who do so will be forced to explain themselves.”
We know that this sort of short-termism is in part driven by share price and the ability to pay dividends. Despite these imperatives for a publicly-owned company, Theresa May highlights the more important need to focus on long-term need not short-term expediency.
Translating Theresa May’s phraseology about corporate responsibility into equally pithy phraseology about political responsibility:
“Too often, we’ve seen politicians reaping political kudos for recklessly putting short-term popularity ahead of the long-term interest of the UK and its people. Our best politicians know that is not a responsible way to run a country and those who do so will be forced to explain themselves.”
It would be very satisfying to find a political leader who would say “I will fine self-serving politicians who betray the electorate.”
A Prime Minister who would be prepared to stand up for this proposition could be considered as one of the great figures in the panoply of UK political leaders.
This is why we must continue to support those politicians who are seeking to hold the government to account and act in the best interest of the UK and the people of the UK.
At the same time we need to seek to persuade those who appear to be acting out of self-interest and/or short-termism that they have a greater duty than that.
We must show that we are not just fodder for the ballot box. If a political party wants our support, it must first and foremost be a party of substance and integrity that is prepared to act, not for popularity, but because it is first and foremost acting in the best interest of the country.
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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.