As we come to the end of 2018 with the UK and the EU locked in a Brexit stalemate, the US in government shutdown, riots in France and Germany and the rise of nationalism across Europe, it would be easy to be depressed.
I have watched the supposedly great symbol of democracy and representative of the people, the British parliament, behave in the most undemocratic of ways. The use of precedent to keep the British people in the dark and to delay democratic votes was very disturbing and sad.
If a dictatorship were to refuse to give true legal answers or to pull votes that they thought they could not win, the world would condemn them. Equally, watching politicians playing the equivalent of the cowboy shootout where each side waits for the other to blink is hardly considering the people they are supposed to serve.
Governments seem much more concerned with satisfying the needs of big business who continue to widen the poverty gap and use and abuse the poorest in society. Even the large charities that were set up to assist those in need are behaving more and more like big business.
So called democracies across the world face problems simply because they have stopped listening to the people they are meant to serve. Increasingly politicians take actions that they believe will get them re-elected rather than doing the right thing.
It would be easy to take a fatalistic view for 2019, but there are a few things that give me hope. The first of these is that history should have taught these democracies some lessons other than how to use precedent for survival.
Let us hope that the British Government has come to its senses before 5 November; let us hope that President Macron doesn’t want the peasants to eat cake; surely Germany knows what happens if you let the far right rise and certainly the EU should recognise the eventual fate of all empires!
The second reason for hope is the entrepreneurial spirit of the ordinary people both young and old. I see countless examples of how individuals and small groups are getting on with tackling the real problems facing society.
Some of these are local and some are more global, but original solutions are appearing daily. Whatever happens with large companies, there are a raft of smaller businesses that have sustainable objectives that will benefit society in practical ways.
My Breakthrough Entrepreneurship Award was won this year by a social enterprise that assists people that have experienced homelessness to obtain skills that lead to employment and a way forward.
My wishes for 2019 are:
- That more and more social enterprises are assisted to flourish in order to address real problems
- That big business stops making token contribution gestures as a way of reducing taxation and start to address the real problems and the poverty gap
- That governments start to realise that they are there to serve the people that put them there, and not just to let them register a vote for the least bad candidate once every five years
- That governments start to tackle real problems with the emerging technologies available to them (why wait until 2020 to get rid of the 8000 fax machines in the National Health Service?)
- That government give the same priorities at home as they do abroad (why did it take 3 days to employ the drone defence system at Gatwick that affected so many British when they had them for Syria?)
- That governments remember that whatever God they worship, they were given two ears and one mouth and they should use them in that proportion.
May 2019 be a happy and successful one for all and especially for the less fortunate amongst us. May it also be a year of successful entrepreneurship and one where governments and big business start to recognise who their customers are and what they really want.