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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Threatening and Bullying

Bizarrely, John Redwood is reported to be threatening businesses that speak out in favour of the European Union.  This is reminiscent of Jim Sillars' "Day of reckoning" during the indyref.  It really strikes me as thuggish and, in the Sillars case, counter-productive.   These campaigns should think about why they feel the need to threaten people in this way.

I also wonder about the legality of it.  In the Sillars case, he aimed at companies, who I imagine are not protected by the law, although I would have thought any attempt by the Scottish government to specifically penalise them might be subject to judicial review if it appeared politically motivated.  The Redwood case is different in that he appears not only to speak of companies but also individuals.  In the context of any referendum, I suspect that might run into election laws over "undue influence".  These days, that usually means something like standing over a postal voter as they fill in their ballot, but I can imagine the concept covering economic penalties threatened against people who vote the wrong way.  That was after all a major reason for the introduction of the secret ballot.

It is surely odd that what used to regard itself as the pro-business party now has senior figures threatening to "destablise" the corporate governance of companies that say things they don't like.  If a Labour politician had said that, I am sure the rightwing press would be denouncing him as a crypto-Communist and loony left.

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