I was hugely encouraged by the Sunday Telegraph article by Helena Morrisey, Chief Executive Officer of Newton Investment and founder of the 30% Club, which aims to increase the representation of women on corporate boards.
Time was when it was an article of faith amongst captains of industry that EU membership was a Good Thing, and inevitable, and an advantage for British Industry — and anyone who disagreed was simply out of touch with reality. But in recent years, more and more folk in the City have started to realise that EU membership is the problem, not the solution. Although Helena Morrissey is committed to promoting women in business, she absolutely rejects the Proposals of Commissioner Viviane Reding to make quotas mandatory. “I wouldn’t want to be part of a board because I’m filling a quota”, she says.
She urges decision-making closer to the coal-face — not in the remote and unaccountable committee rooms of the BerlaymontBuilding. The EU’s “subsidiarity” concept is supposed to address this concern, but in practice fails to do so. It’s there to talk about, not to influence decisions. Indeed (speaking as an old cynic) I’d say it’s there to create a spurious impression of devolved decision-making, where none in fact exists.
I was particularly struck by one line from Ms. Morrissey’s piece: “Personal experience of (women’s quotas proposals and) other policy issues leaves me concerned that the authorities’ desire to be proven right may outweigh their motivation to do the right thing”. She mentions this particularly with regard to the €uro project, which “they are determined to defend at whatever social cost in Greece, Portugal and Spain”. She is of course, absolutely right. The €uro is currently being maintained by little more that the politicians’ fear of losing face. It’s a new twist on the Concorde fallacy. “We’ve invested so much political capital in the €uro that we can’t change course now”. They know they’re wrong, but they can’t find a face-saving escape route.
Our own government is little better. Cameron has seen the numbers. He knows that Brussels’ “Green” Policies, plus the 2008 Climate Change Act, are a disaster for Britain and the EU, driving industry and jobs and investment out of Europe while doing nothing for the environment. But he can’t admit he was wrong. He knows that the economic case for HS2 is falling apart almost as fast as the cost estimates are going up — but he can’t back down.
If only a few of our politicians had the courage to say, just once in a while, “I’m afraid I got this wrong”.