This morning's Today programme included an interview with John Cridland from the CBI discussing the state of the economy, the Pfizer bid, and more.
The comments Cridland offered were extraordinary. He blamed politicians in the UK for the uncertainty business now faces. According to him business certainty is now rising (despite the fact that if he though for a moment that phrase is itself an oxymoron). It felt as if he sighed when saying this: 'we know we live in a democracy' as if this was not very obviously a good thing; a point he then went on to reinforce by saying that 'All parties must offer pr0-enterprise policies' which he explained was because 'all wealth is created by the private sector and so all job creation is dependent upon it'.
So Cridland wants us to live in a democracy without choice where all policy must be aimed to make it easier for those who own businesses to get richer with minimum risk because the state removes their uncertainty. That was his message and it is staggeringly wrong.
First, all wealth creation is not dependent upon the private sector. Let me take one very simple example: trains from London to Edinburgh via York are currently run by a state-owned company whilst there is another going up the west coast of England that is managed by private sector companies. Is it possible, using Cridland's logic, for one route to be a wealth creator, and the other not? Clearly that is not the case.
Second, we know big business is simply not investing in the UK economy now: it doesn't matter how pro-enterprise the government now is, big business is not because it has no clue what to do with its money which is why it is sitting on great piles of it and is instead doing takeover and merger deals.
Last, we know that actually most investment that creates wealth is government funded now. Mariana Mazzucato has shown that.
So Cridland is wrong. He does not understand risk and uncertainty. He does not want democracy because he demands just one option be available to an electorate. He is wrong about the nature of wealth creation. And he is wrong about the role of business.
It was not an impressive performance.