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Boycott the 35

10.25.10 | Comment?

What’s the difference between 35 and 33?  We all wanted the 33 to get out of the hole they’d helped dig.

As for the 35 ‘business leaders’ (being 34 men, one woman) who signed the Daily Telegraph letter in support of the Tories’ socially savage and economically incoherent cuts?  I’m joining the boycott of their businesses, announced today at the Liberal Conspiracy website, and encouraging others to do the same.

This follows on from an article I wrote for that site setting out the hypocrisy of business leaders calling for public sector cuts when they’ve either just signed of big public sector contracts or stand to gain directly from these cuts.

So you won’t find me going into Carphone Warehouse, or Boots, or ASDA, or any of the other retail outlets set out in this list.

Now, I don’t think the bosses of these firms are going to be quaking in their business shoes at my stance.  I generally go to ALDI anyway, and I’m not even sure what Harvey Nicholls sells.

Nor am I making any great claim that my actions will get at all the 35; I’m not in the market for an aircraft carrier at the moment.

But the thing about consumer boycotts is that they can and do sometimes just catch on, especially when powerful new social network tools do their thing.

 It may just come to pass that the shareholders of some of these firms start to ask questions, when they see their quarterly results, about why their Chairs and Chief Executives decided to make such a statement, especially when there is very good evidence that their principle claim – that public spending cuts of this magnitude will lead to private growth – is utterly wrong (so wrong, in fact, that one of the 35 firms actually says it’s wrong in an internal email).

If the 35 want to glory in their own status at the expense of millions (including their own employees), they need to know there may be consequences.

Of course, the common argument against boycotts is that you simply harm people who did not cause the offence in the first place.  The right argued that about South Africa for years.  So I should make it clear that the boycott I’m doing my best to promote here, in my own small way, is not an attack on all the people in West Lancashire and beyond who have to make their living in Boots and ASDA and Carphone Warehouse and Marks and Spencers et al. 

It is an attack on their bosses, who seem quite happy for their employees to be facing massive reductions in vital public services and much-needed tax and welfare benefits, of the type that these very bosses do not need.

Will you, loyal readers of the Bickerstaffe Record, join me?  It might just work.

(Note: while Kate at Liberal Conspiracy says she’ll never ‘darken the doors’ of the firms she lists again, I think that’s over the top.  I won’t darken their doors till their bosses have offered a public apology, or been fired by their boards for their recklessness in putting their own status interests ahead of the interests of their firm).

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