Time for our summer quiz

Question 1 – who said “of course I do”?

Was it:

• Tony Blair when asked if he accepts international consultancies)

• Vince Cable when asked if he thinks he will continue to support the coalition government

• David Cameron when asked whether he understood the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship in our country

Question 2 – who said “of course you don’t”?

Was it:

• Samantha Cameron

• Vince Cable’s alter-ego

• Tony Drury?

The answer to question one is of course David Cameron. On 28 May 2010 David Cameron said:

“Do I understand the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship in our country? Of course I do.”

He went on to say that “Do I think that high marginal tax rates are a mistake? Of course I do.”

The answer to the second question is of course Tony Drury. On reading Cam’s first question on the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship I said “Of course you don’t”.

As you pack your buckets and spades for your annual two weeks in Margate you can plan the building of your sandcastles in the knowledge that the incoming tide will wash them away.

Which is exactly what events have done to Mr. Cameron’s meaningless words.

At no time in our recent history has the UK so failed to provide support to Britain’s enterprising businesses.

Pictures of Peter Jones (him again) presenting an award under his ‘Enterprise Business Challenge’ to the owner of Funky Lunch (‘Mail on Sunday’ 25 July 2010) does not suggest to me that he has cracked the Holy Grail of creating a national infrastructure which will support a new generation of enterprising business owners and managers.

The REALITY is that

1. Banks do not want to lend to enterprising businesses: it is too risky and it does not pay their bonuses. In the six months to March 2010 lending under the enterprise finance guarantee scheme dropped by 23%. There is also a little known Government cap on the scheme which deters lenders.

2. The equity markets for sub-£50m companies (AIM and PLUS-quoted) are virtually non-performing. Both are seeing more de-listings than new entrants.

3. The tax structure is simply crackers: CGT at 28%: barmy. EIS/VCT: restructured almost out of existence.

4. There is virtually no Government ‘risk’ support funding. The Seraphim Capital Fund, the first of the Business Department’s 10 Enterprise Capital Funds (designed to tackle the equity gap), has decided to change its investment strategy. It now wants to invest in other VC’s portfolios.

5. Business angels (also known as ‘all talk and no cheque’) will never prosper until they can readily identify potential exits. With the negative state of the equity markets they are left with trade sales.

But, the cycle will change and enterprise will return. This I promise!

But Mr. Cameron, Mr. Cable and their friends the bankers will have nothing to do with it.

The REAL SECRET of reviving Enterprise Britain is to unleash the investment power of the cash hoarded away by Britain’s private investors.

Ocado was a disappointing start. There is a better world ahead. It is a matter of time.

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