10 February 2007

takin' care of business

Here's a ripper yarn out of the UK about the delicate interplay between business and government. There's a lot of it about of course - just ask any citizen who lives near a planned tunnel. Anyway, in this case the potential incoming Conservative government in the UK says it will repudiate any contracts relating to the proposed UK ID card. Lots of crossover with us here in Oz on such a subject, of course.

It seems that the main industry body for the IT industry weighed in with some ill-judges threats about the inadvisability of breaking any contracts. And that if the risk of said potential breakage seemed to go up, then the monetary compensation might need to compensate. Pretty standard business response. Except in this case, the potential future gummint has said
"just try it, Jimmy" or something to that effect.

While there's obviously more at play here, it's instructive that the Conservatives would so blatantly, for want of a better term, take on a major industry, particularly one which is always touted as essential to contemporary economic growth (IT often being labelled a 'driver' of other sectors as well as an industry in its own right). Of course it's always that little bit easier to be hairy chested in opposition but, from our perspective in Australia, you don't often see a government of any persuasion muscle up so openly.

The other aspect of interest is that the Conservatives are opposed to the ID card, which to my understanding is more a true conservative (ie old style Liberal in Oz terms) position. In other words, even the threat of global terrorism is insufficient to warrant such a prospective intrusion into individual rights, especially the right to privacy. Seems you wouldn't get that robustness (dare I say 'faith'?) from a government of any stripe here, because everyone's bought into the clash of civilisations/here come the endtimes scenario (I very nearly wrote 'narrative' just then, dangerous).

And with the obvious exception of Bob Brown, everyone here seems to have accepted a world in which the interests of business reign supreme. In fact the current storm in a short black cup about coal really shows it up: if the Libs here were fair dink, they'd accept the need for investment into alternative energy sources instead of leaving it until the very last minute when the current major energy companies realise that they need a new revenue stream to meet the next three-monthly growth projections. Isn't that why we don't have gas light lighters any more?

FInally - isn't the Times of London a great read?

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