Most of all, by the government, which seems to have been pretty roundly defeated in its attempt to let local councils decide if supermarkets should be allowed to open all day on Sundays.
I'm a localist and I like the idea of local self-determination, but I'm not sure councils were in any position to resist the power of the big supermarkets. They would have succumbed. It would have been central administrative control replaced by central corporate control.
Thanks to the BBC, this issue has been widely misunderstood. It is also the source of some bizarre wishful thinking statistics bandied around by supporters of deregulation. As if opening supermarkets for longer would do any more than redistribute earnings from the small to the big.
That's the test as far as I'm concerned. Would the measure lead to more diversity or less? Would it lead to a wider spreading oft he profits or a narrower one? Would it have increased competition or throttled it?
I don't think anyone would claim that it wouldn't have made the big dinosaurs of retailing richer and the small struggling niche players poorer. That isn't competition in any sense that I recognise. Nor is it free trade in the truly Liberal sense.
These issues are important but largely ignored, which is why Robert Frank could say that the US establishment has failed to understand the rise of a reptile like Donald Trump - who has risen on the back of a cocktail of racism, petty bullying and a constantly repeated critique of greedy offshoring corporates.
Because they haven't understood the difference between Liberalism and neoliberalism. This is what he wrote today in the Guardian:
"Yet still we cannot bring ourselves to look the thing in the eyes. We cannot admit that we liberals bear some of the blame for its emergence, for the frustration of the working-class millions, for their blighted cities and their downward spiraling lives. So much easier to scold them for their twisted racist souls, to close our eyes to the obvious reality of which Trumpism is just a crude and ugly expression: that neoliberalism has well and truly failed..."
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