Thursday, 21 May 2009

Cuddly capitalism?

Review of BBC Business guy Robert Peston's book: Who Runs Britain?

Very readable and full of jaw dropping statistics on New Labour's obsession with the super wealthy and their lifestyles which is likely to bring them down. Particularly good are the chapters on private equity, pensions and the peerage scandal.

There are problems with work however - it doesnt really feel like a whole book more a collection of writings - which it is not sold as. The chapter on Marks and Spencer for example doesnt even follow the same structure as the rest and repeats points made in other parts of the book. The conclusion is also contradictory which strikes at another flaw - Robert Peston's ambiguity.

Some of his writing condemns the wealthy with also harbouring a large amount of admiration for them. He condemns pension schemes for not following private equity in taking huge risks - surely if they had done this we'd all be in even biggertrouble than we currently are. His support for Post Office privatisation in the current climate is also faintly bizarre.

His political position reminds me a bit of Brian Gould in the 80s Labour Party - remember him! A moderniser at the time calling for popular capitalism in 1987 booed at conference etc but by the time Smith was dragging Labour to its neo-Liberal position Gould ended up on the left of sorts! I think he stood against Smith in 1992. Essentially a lover of the exploitative system of capitalism but not its excesses.
Having said that a good guide to the current crisis - not completely thorough though - it was published in the midst of it and that does come across

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