Some of the £537,000 Adrian Beecroft has given to the Conservative Party in recent years came into his possession by lending out small sums of a few hundred pounds at rates of interest as high as 4,000% a year.
It’s probably fair to assume that among those who feel that they have little choice but to subject themselves to usury will be people that have lost their jobs and do not have recourse to more reasonable sources of credit than wonga.com.
Given that high unemployment is good for business, it’s little wonder that he would like to make it easier to sack people. Among the proposals contained in the review of employment law he has recently completed for the Coalition is so called ‘no fault dismissal’.
Don’t like that black bloke in the ad sales department? Worried that the girl in accounts just got married and may be planning to have kids? Health and safety rep getting a bit Bolshie?
Never mind decades-worth of laws designed to give women, trade unionists and ethnic minorities some sort of job security. If Beecroft gets his way, employers will be able to give them their P45s, no questions asked, provided only they stump up a minimal pay off as well.
The scheme truly is bonkers, and to his credit, business secretary Vince Cable quickly said as much. Beecroft has responded furiously, throwing the worst insult of which he can conceive at Cable: the man must be ‘a socialist’, he concludes.
For the record, he isn’t. There is nothing in Cable’s political track record – including his stint as a Labour councillor – to indicate that he has ever advocated common ownership of the means of production. He is actually a generic social democrat, of the kind that could find a home in any British mainstream party.
As for the suggestion that he is anti-business, let us remember that prior to entering parliament, he held a relatively senior position at oil multinational Shell, not an outfit famed for extending positive discrimination towards Trots and treehuggers.
In short, Beecroft’s outburst tells us more about the thought processes of the rabid right than the ideological complexion of Cable.
Yet this is the sort of person the Coalition is looking to for policy inspiration these days, and what’s more, he seems to enjoy ample support on the Conservative backbenches. Nice.