Henry Porter really is an ignorant little twat isn\’t he?

Supermarkets have been blighting our land and lives for too long

An inquiry into the pernicious power of these retail giants should be an urgent priority for the coalition

Whooo! Gosh. Umm:

Supermarkets emerge unscathed after third major inquiry in eight years

Correct. We\’ve been though this three times already uhnder the last, Labour, government. Now I agree that they didn\’t find as you would wish but that they didn\’t do so has a number of possible explanations. They\’re neo-liberal bastards entirely in the pockets of the capitalists for example. Or quite possibly that you\’re just wrong.

As you are in some other matters:

It seems absurd to think of large grocery and hardware shops as the cause, or the facilitator, of so many avoidable ills, but barely a week goes by when the actions of supermarkets are not held responsible for some kind of harm, whether it\’s to overweight teenagers, the pub trade or the farming industry.

It\’s true that they are accused of many things but that\’s rather a result of a vocal minority wishing to blame them for many things. Because, you know, there\’s a group who simply believe that supermarkets are wrong and who will grasp at any straw to try and convince the rest of us. Start looking around the nef offices….and the thing is, when the adults actually sit down and try and wor5k out whether these accusations are in fact true, they find they\’re not.

and you see they all benefit from paying hourly rates that are well below a living wage, which means the taxpayer is forced to make up the rest in tax credits.

Jesu Christe you fucking dunderhead. Entirely arse about tip. The value of labour is determined by the demand for that labour and the supply of it. As it happens a substantial portion of the citizenry believe that people should not have to live on what the value of their labour is. Thus some part of society is taxed in order to raise the incomes of those low value labour peeps.

They promise jobs and pay peanuts, and just when every business in town is on its knees, or has gone bust, they replace people with automatic checkout machines that ask for your Nectar card.

And what do you think happens if you insist that there should be a living wage paid to all workers? That the supermarkets must pay more than the market value of the labour on offer? Yes, quite, those nectar self service checkouts come all the faster and thus fewer are employed. Raising that \”subsidy\” that the taxpayers must pay to those now unemployed.

At present, Hay is a delight to visit; apart from hosting the world\’s greatest literature festival, its streets are filled with variety, animation and a sense of community. The business of shopping in Hay, whether for books, antiques or groceries, is a pleasure, but this plan will kill the town. Campaigners estimate that a supermarket would reduce trade for local shops by between 20% and 75%. Traders in Hay\’s open-air market will be snuffed out and the town will fill with To Let signs, charity and gift shops.

But why would this happen? If shopping there for groceries is a joy then people will not abandon that joy for the supermarket aisles, will they? And if they do then it\’s not quite such a joy, is it? This is revelqaed preferences all over again and the \”campaigners\” are on entirely the wrong side of it. Their own very allegation, that the shoppers will abandon the small shops to stalk the soul less shopping centre is the very proof that we need that the shopping centre, the supermarket, is what the citizenry desires.

but in Britain the supermarkets push products drenched in fructose and sucrose without qualm.

Oh dear, you\’ve been reading the Americans again, haven\’t you? HFCS is not really used over here in Europe, it\’s pretty much entirely an American thing.

Supermarkets now account for about 20% of all book sales in Britain, following the suicidal decision by publishers to cut cover prices for supermarkets in order to gain market share.

Err, no. They\’ve not cut cover prices. What they had was the legal right to insist upon a book being sold at cover price taken away from them. In fact, cover prices haven\’t changed at all. It\’s the discounts from cover that have. Jeez, I\’ve a niece who can rant better than this Henry.

But it is the supermarkets\’ oppressive behaviour with British farmers that makes you wonder at the complacency of our legislators. According to the Competition Commission report in 2000, the buying power of the supermarkets means \”that the burden of cost increases in the supply chain has fallen disproportionately heavily on small suppliers\”. Farmers are going out of business in what the National Farmers Union says is \”a climate of fear\”.

The supermarkets protest that savings are passed on to the consumer. Nonsense. Look at their profits.

Cretin. To see whether food prices have fallen you need to look at food prices. Have food prices risn against general inflation? Fallen?

The answer is, roughly, that they have risen in the past couple of years as the effect of the devaluation of the currency has come in (as we know, we import a lot of our food) and for the couple of decades before that food prices actually fell against general inflation. Making the consumer better off and that\’s the person we care about, the consumer.

Across the political divide, there is awareness that supermarkets are abusing their power. Now we need action – a Leveson inquiry for supermarkets that looks at the total impact on jobs, suppliers, the nation\’s diet, the environment, diversity and planning. This should be followed by the creation of a tough regulator and legislation compelling supermarkets to meet the standards of a fairer, healthier, sustainable, more modern and enlightened society.

Twat. What the fuck do you want an inquiry for if you already know what the conclusions will be?

16 comments on “Henry Porter really is an ignorant little twat isn\’t he?

  1. I’ve always said that criticism of the supermarkets is thinly veiled snobbery, because in criticising the supermarkets for all these social ills (drunkenness through cheap booze, destroying the high street, destroying farming, creating soulless superstores etc etc) they are in fact criticising the millions of people whose individual choices created the supermarkets in the first place.

    So rather than castigate the masses for their terrible taste in food, drink and aesthetics, they criticise Tesco instead. It is a continuation of the middle class dislike of the lumpen masses by proxy.

  2. What they really mean about Hay’s diversity:

    If poor people aren’t forced to shop in the nice (expensive) shops that we like, those shops won’t be able to stay open for us, when we need them.

    It’s the usual Guardianista argument, writ large. Poor people should subsidise what I think is correct. Poor people can’t think for themselves because they are either too stupid or victims of false consciousness.

  3. It’s worth remembering The Guardian/Observer sells about 230, 000 copies a day, and The Star about 630,000.

  4. Very minor pendantry alert: it’s the price of labour that is determined by supply and demand, not its value. The value of that labour is always greater than the price paid (before the gov’t takes its share) to the employer, and lower than the price received (after the gov’t takes its share) to the employee.

  5. There is something of a point however, that homogenization into giant retail conglomerates does reduce the choice available to those who would be prepared to pay extra (in money and time) for the butcher/baker/greengrocer experience – if there isn’t a critical mass of customers a business will disappear entirely rather than shrink to meet the size of customer base. e.g. there is (admittedly very limited) desire for high quality groceries in Germany but regrettably not enough demand to make it worth anyone’s while in delivering them.

    Note, I still don’t think the guardianistas have the right solution in wanting to squish supermarkets, but they are right in that there is a problem, even if they don’t understand why they are right about this.

  6. Jim,

    I’ve always said that criticism of the supermarkets is thinly veiled snobbery, because in criticising the supermarkets for all these social ills (drunkenness through cheap booze, destroying the high street, destroying farming, creating soulless superstores etc etc) they are in fact criticising the millions of people whose individual choices created the supermarkets in the first place.

    Most Guardianistas also use supermarkets. They just assume that by removing them that some better eden will appear in its place.

    What’s ironic is that the Graun is such a supporter of feminism, yet supermarkets are one of the 4 things that allowed feminism to flourish(the motor car, the washing machine, the pill are the others). Good luck being a working mother when you have shops open 6 days a week from 9-5:30.

  7. Porter is arguing for the EU’s solution to the Irish referendum problem, isn’t he. Keep holding more referenda (or in Porter’s case, inquiries) until you get the desired answer. This could take a very long time and cost an awful lot of money….

  8. What Porter et al really desire is that their preference in shopping be supported by contributions from those intent on lower prices. Their aim is to deprive that broad swath of the populace of the price differential so it shall, in the form of higher prices, become a subsidy for the outlets they favor.

    If they simply valued the other niceties of their favorite stores/shopping areas and were willing to pay the increased costs occasioned by loss of business of the more price-oriented, they could do that–and their favorites would have no reason to close. But they’re not–or at least not enough of them are–so they demand subsidy in the form of restrictions on the competition.
    They despise the hoi polloi and their choices but feel entitled to financial support from that quarter.

  9. “In fact, cover prices haven’t changed at all. ”

    Book cover prices DID change when discounting was made legal – they went up by about 50%, so that a 1/3 discount, or “3 for 2″ could be applied.

    Similarly, when George Brown imposed minimum deposits on cars in the 60s or 70s, trade-in “values” shot up.

    Supermarkets and choice : I once counted about 19 different mustards at Tesco in Crawley – how many High St grocers could do that ?

    Alan Douglas

  10. Note they never criticise Waitrose, because it is owned as a cooperative. Yet how different are Waitrose’s procurement, pricing, and wage policies to that of Tesco?

  11. Naturally the fact that the price of agricultural land has doubled in the last five years must be due to hedge fund speculation on building bio-ethanol plants over the Green Belt.

  12. Worth mentioning the Swiss have a fixed book pricing system (as is commonplace in a few European countries) and that a referendum will be held in a couple of weeks on whether to retain this law. The left-wing and centrist parties generally want to keep it, the right-wing parties want to abolish it (though the SVP’s Oskar Freysinger, notably, is amongst those wanting to keep the book pricing system).

  13. There’s an assumption in this discussion that any market equilibrium is in the best interests of consumers. That’s trivially false.

  14. quite right. Now use search and replace, substituting climate change. The arguments work just as well!

  15. Note they never criticise Waitrose, because it is owned as a cooperative. Yet how different are Waitrose’s procurement, pricing, and wage policies to that of Tesco?

    Waitrose has been recently criticised for three things:

    1. For selling the conventionally developed and grown broccoli “bellaverde”, a registered trademark of Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Inc. Seminis is a subsidiary of Monsanto, which as we all know wants to take over the world with its GMOs. Waitrose therefore supports Monsanto, which is A Bad Thing.

    2. For opening stores on Shell forecourts. Shell is Evil. Waitrose therefore supports Shell, which is A Bad Thing.

    3. For retiring egg-laying hens into the food chain instead of homes for elderly chickens. This is A Bad Thing.

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