An exciting time to return to England – two greedy capitalists in huge trouble (Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, for exploiting his workers shamelessly and illegally; Sir Philip Green of BHS for probably robbing his failing firm’s pension fund to buy more yachts [see below, https://bernardjporter.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/bhs-and-a-victorian-villain/]: both under scrutiny from Commons Committees – such fun to see them squirm on TV); new depths plumbed in the great EU referendum debate, especially by Nigel Farage, who is now playing the racist-feminist card: Brexit in order to stop foreign rapists coming in; and an unholy cock-up by the govt preventing – it seemed for a while – many young people from registering to vote in said referendum.
But I’ll be tied up for a few days, on a local ‘Elgar Society’ tour of Worcestershire, so probably won’t be able to comment for a wee while. This whole referendum thing, which isn’t just about Europe, could have a profound effect both on Europe and on British politics; and the business scandals an effect on the future of capitalism, if we’re (very) lucky. This may be what we historians don’t like to call a (or an) ‘historic moment’. I’m sure I’ll find something to write about it all – or, if not, then about Elgar – next week.
PS: and yet another capitalist gets his come-uppance. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/09/boots-uk-boss-simon-roberts-quits.
(In reply to Tony Judge.) Dunno about Elgar. His music was better appreciated on the Continent than it was in Britain, which might have inclined him to Remain. He was an old-fashioned Conservative in most ways: loathed greedy (and philistine) capitalists, for example, so wouldn’t have taken to Ashley and Green. He was not the imperialist he is made out to be (I wrote an article on this); perhaps a Little Englander. In his time there was still a British industry, of course; what he’d have made of its destruction by Thatcher is anyone’s guess. And he’d have hated her. But you never can extrapolate what historic figures would feel now from what they felt then; as both sides in the EU debate frequently claim to do with Churchill, for example. The past really is a foreign country.
Whatever their ethics, Ashley and Green make sure they stay within the law and are untouchable; the show-biz of parliamentary enquiries achieves little except publicity, and neither low wages nor jobs and pensions protected by EU law; the EU’s ban on subsidies has led to the partial collapse of the UK steel industry. Oh dear what would Edward Elgar have thought!