Thursday 28 February 2008

How to boost the bottled water industry

The Evening Standard’s campaign for tap water in restaurants is being given good coverage – at least in their own newspaper. It’s a good cause as well. Why should we encourage the bottled water industry to jet the stuff all over the world, when we are also paying through our water rates to clean the stuff in the taps?

But then, won’t those who sell bottled water be delighted by government plans to put fluoride in the water. I’ll be buying a lot more bottled water myself just to avoid the government’s compulsory medication.

Friday 15 February 2008

Post offices: only connect

Why is it that politicians don’t make basic connections that make themselves easier to understand and help people remember what they’re saying?

I’ve puzzled over this for ages. Is it that their brains are shaped like government departments, with clear demarcation lines between issues? Is it that they are stuck with the usual categories of journalists?

Either way, why is it that Lib Dems are not making more connections about the catastrophic closure of post offices?

The post office issue is important on its own, but it looks like just another bandwagon campaign. Connect it to the rest and you can raise the level of debate to something more connected and crusading.

Every sub-post office that closes, according to research by the think-tank I work for, reduces money flows in the local ward by an average of £300,000 a year. That is seriously impoverishing.

Nor is it just post offices either. We are losing banks, pubs, greengrocers, police stations, playing fields and all the rest, by deliberate policy – a kind of sucking of the life out of our communities.

And there’s the Competition Commission today saying that the problem is there isn’t enough competition between identical supermarket formats, while the high streets continue to suffer from this kind of monopolistic thinking.

So for goodness sake, let’s try to stop sounding like politicians campaigning on small local issues, and make the connections to the slow impoverishment of so many communities, and their transformation into dependent supplicants to big corporations and big government agencies….