Praise for Jeremy Corbyn from the CBI and the IOD: Are we living in the Matrix? Or Alice in Wonderland?

Is the business community really considering Morpheus's suggestion of taking the red pill to see how deep the rabbit hole goes?

James Moore
Chief Business Commentator
Monday 26 February 2018 17:58
Will Neo take the red or the blue pill: The famous scene from the Matrix
Will Neo take the red or the blue pill: The famous scene from the Matrix

A Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn as the party of business?

JC as the last, best hope for the business community?

It’s the sort of thing that would make even one of those nutty internet conspiracy theorists who believe that contactless payments are a satanic plot scoff.

At least it would have a couple of years ago.

Now? Now we’re in Terri May’s Brexit wonderland and the Cheshire Cat is pissing himself.

Madness is part of everyday life and nothing seems strange anymore, not even the CBI’s director general Carlyn Fairbairn saying this: “The Labour leader’s commitment to a customs union will put jobs and living standards first by remaining in a close economic relationship with the EU. It will help grow trade without accepting freedom of movement or payments to the EU.”

Or Stephen Martin, the director general of the Institute of Directors, saying this: “Labour has widened the debate today on the UK’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit, and many businesses, particularly manufacturers, will be pleased to hear the Opposition’s proposal to keep a customs union on the table.”

You remember the scene from the Wachowskis’ Matrix where Morpheus references Lewis Carroll’s most famous work?

“You take the blue pill, you stay in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

With the Tory party having taken leave of its senses in favour of plunging us into a nightmare beyond anything either Carroll or the the brothers could have conceived, the red pill suddenly doesn't seem quite as scary as it once did, not now the Tories' mad ideologues are making merry. The Corbyn rabbit hole might actually be the better option.

But the business community isn't there yet. Not quite. Our Trinity and Neo are still worried that that little red pill will give them a nasty dose of indigestion.

Ms Fairbairn made it clear in her statement that she doesn’t much like Labour’s rhetoric on denationalisation. Mr Martin made the very good point that Mr Corbyn’s evolving policy on Brexit still leaves “too many unanswered questions” for a business community that could be forgiven for resorting to starting the working week not with a red or with a blue pill but with a communal bottle of valium.

That said, while it might be unclear how deep Mr Corbyn’s rabbit hole is going, and the current vacillating is disappointing, it does at least appear headed in a pragmatic direction that puts jobs and prosperity first as regards the UK’s relationship with Europe.

That’s quite a contrast to the party that currently has its fingers on the levers of power.

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