The CBI’s woes go from bad to worse. The organisation has now announced that it will seek to have its registration as a No campaign supporter declared null and void, and admitted it was a mistake to have registered in the first place. CBI’s director general John Cridland told the BBC that the business organisation had made an “honest mistake” in registering. No honest, they’re telling the truth now.
It was also a mistake for them to pose as a neutral organisation when they’re as neutral as a bare wire in a puddle of pish, which wasn’t very honest of them at all. No apologies from John on that one, because he’s fervently hoping that the CBI can go back to spraying its urine all over a live debate while posing as a detached voice of authority from on high. Sadly for Honest John that’s not going to happen – over the past week they’ve electrocuted themselves like a mangy stray dug at a faulty lamp post. But now they’ve been caught, kennelled and neutered.
Honest John said that the decision had been taken by a very junior staff member who didn’t have the authority and was operating way above his pay grade. Which isn’t quite what he was saying just a couple of days ago when he assured anyone who was listening that the CBI had fully consulted with its members through the medium of astral channelling. It’s just terribly unfortunate that their ouija board got stuck between the N and the O.
The ouija board took a sharp shift towards U-turn after the CBI took legal advice from a QC, who told them that their application for registration as a campaigning organisation may be null and void. Which does kind of make you wonder why the supposed spokespeople for British industry didn’t do that in the first place. Because if I was a leading business organisation and I was told to register as a campaigning body because of “legal compliance issues”, I’d find out first whether this was actually the opinion of lawyers before taking a step that was bound to create controversy – seeing as how the role of a business organisation like the CBI is to protect its members when they become involved in controversy. The last thing they’re supposed to do is become an object of controvery themselves. But they did that anyway. And now they’ve made it worse.
Worse still is that they may not be able to deregister. There is no mechanism in place for an organisation to cease registration after having registered. Which is why the CBI is trying to argue that their registration was never valid to begin with. Whether the Electoral Commission will accept this argument remains to be seen. The Scottish public certainly won’t, and as far as the referendum campaign is concerned that’s all that counts.
The CBI wants us all to forget everything they’ve said over the past few days. They’re not in favour of a no vote at all, how silly of anyone to imagine that. They’re just not unopposed to not telling us never not to vote no, which is entirely above board and fits the BBC’s definition of impartiality.
Honest John said:
“Although the decision to register with the Electoral Commission was taken in good faith, in order to carry out normal activities during the referendum period, it has inadvertently given the impression that the CBI is a political entity – we are not and never will be.”
Apolitical entity? Forfend! They’re a fully paid up member of the right wing British establishment. Nothing political about that at all. Oh no. This is the organisation which campaigned against devolution, campaigned against the minimum wage, and campaigned against restrictions on bankers’ bonuses while supposedly representing public bodies and being funded in part from public money. Of course they’re not political. And in the exact same way, British nationalism isn’t nationalist and the BBC isn’t biased. On hearing the news that the CBI managed the impressive trick of simultaneously drowning in its own incompetence while blowing itself out of the water, Patrick Harvie of the Greens said:
“The CBI is clearly not just a business network – it’s a free-market, right-wing lobbying group whose Scottish boss recently described inequality as an ‘abstract’ term. Given the recent exodus of members the question must now be why public bodies and neutral broadcasters ever joined such a lobby group in the first place.”
I’m sure there will be a Newsnicht Scotland special all about it very soon …
Like those other institutions of Britishness, the Westminster parlie, the Unionist parties, the BBC and the rest of the UK media, the CBI isn’t having a good referendum. All the big beasts and the heavy hitters, the important people and the global players, shown up as a bunch of inadequates by ordinary people in Scotland organising ourselves. We’re the munchkins on the Yellow Brick Road to independence, and now we’ve seen our political masters are as much a sham as the Wizard of Oz. We clicked our red heels and saw they were never clever or competent, they were never powerful or potent.
Westminster and the British state are the impregnable fortress which was impregnable until the first time it was beseiged from within, the Colditz castle no one had escaped from until Scotland decided to plan a way out. And then we discovered it wasn’t a castle on a hill hewn from the solid rock, it’s really a Mickey Mouse castle of cardboard in a Disneyland of deceit. For generations Scots were taught we were too wee, too poor and too stupid, yet we’ve discovered our masters are weer, poorer and more stupid than us. And now they’re the ones with the cringe.
So the CBI won’t be campaigning as an official No supporter after all. In order to prove that they really did make a mistake – no, honest John we believe you – by registering as a No supporter, to avoid any tricky legal issues, and to rescue what is left of the tattered shreds of their credibility, they’re going to have to keep out of the debate entirely. The CBI has reportedly assured the Electoral Commission that they will take no part in the independence debate.
From now on in, CBI better stand for “cannae be involved”. Because we’ll be watching.