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The business agenda – intentionally lost in translation

There is a whole lexicon of business-leader-speak which is crafted to sound like objective analysis of the state of the nation rather than the self-interested lobbying it really is

There is an awful lot to be said for instability. It is a much-misunderstood state and gets a bad press from people who deem to speak out for ‘our best interests’. Today it is the Chiefie of Weir Pumps ‘demanding’ stability (in this context it is constitutional stability) but it could just as easily have been ‘stability of the tax regime’, ‘stability of government’ or ‘stability of employment laws’. In fact, the principle applies just as easily (in a historical context) to the stability of the slave trade. It simply means ‘we’re happy with our advantages and democratic will of the people must not get in the way of our happiness’. It is a fundamentally conservative and self-interested world-view.

In fact, stability and stasis are not particularly creative states in which to exist. The whole key to walking is to master the potential of instability; it is the fundamental state which enables a wheel to work and is how the internal combustion engine functions. It is a transitional state from one thing to another. Naturally, no-one wants to exist in a transitional state for ever (which is why its called transitional) but unless we are to be completely and utterly happy with absolutely every aspect of our current state, some kind of transition is essential.

But in any case, stability in real-world affairs is a myth. Sometimes banks collapse, sometimes volcanos take aeroplanes out the sky, sometimes unemployment soars and blights an entire generation. These things happen and in themselves they create massive social instability. The idea that we should accept that ‘instability is the new stability’ is just part of the nonsense – ‘you have no chance of a job but enjoy your stability’. Especially when it is really only one kind of stability that the business community wants; stability in the face of any change which might harm their personal profits. I can’t recall the CBI asking for stability in the regulatory framework as they assaulted public safeguards against predatory business interests. Do business leaders now recognise that the 50p top tax rate is the current stable state and so will they now accept it?

Or, just possibly, is this yet more self-interested lobbying dressed up as informed economic analysis. When the world is in the mess it is in I think we might benefit from some instability, because if this is stable I don’t want it. If only we were properly versed in the language of business lobbying we wouldn’t find these ‘demands’ so compelling. The translation is simple – ‘I care not for society, don’t dare change anything which makes me less wealthy or less powerful’. Which is a fair enough point. So long as none of the rest of us are meant to take it at face value.

Robin McAlpine