Oscars for also-rans
Whisper it softly lest the news triggers national hysteria on a scale that makes the Salem witchcraft wailings seem like a Harpo Marx soliloquy.
The Government has just unveiled the identity of the most enterprising place in Britain.
For health & safety reasons please make sure you’re firmly seated before reading on. Then rejoice. Rejoice! For they’ll certainly be dancing in the streets of Burnley this very night.
The East Lancashire town has received the accolade of the most enterprising place in Britain from the Department of Business and Skills for its ongoing commitment to support small and medium sized businesses and for successfully reframing perceptions of Burnley. One shudders to think of the credentials of the 43 runners-up.
During the industrial revolution Burnley was one of Britain’s most thriving mill towns and at its peak one of the world's largest producers of cotton cloth and a major centre of engineering.
But its traditional employment base has been in decline for decades: The largest employment sector in the town is now public administration, education and health (31.2 per cent), followed by the once unchallenged manufacturing (21.9 per cent). Shops and factories have continued to close.
So heaven knows Burnley needs a few bouquets, even if they are made up from artificial flowers, metaphorically speaking. Nor is it Burnley – or any other place’s – fault that BIS feels the need to shower UK also-rans with synthetic, hollow honours.
Burnley is not ready to march on the world as a result of this accolade. But the cynic in me says that it might not do the Coalition any harm as it casts around the country for floating voters.
In the county council elections earlier this year Labour, which is a mess under Miliband the Milder, took four of the six Burnley seats available and the LibDems the other two.
So if you run a really enterprising area but happen to be in a safe Coalition seat perhaps you’d like to note the date you lost out to Burnley and revise your options when the time comes to place your X.
In the same awards-fest, BIS also showered confetti on the megarich Premier League with a prize for its undoubtedly enterprising Enterprise Academy and to Hackney (Labour controlled) as an alleged magnet for global inward investment.
The Premier League hardly needs further glory with English soccer already basking in its reputation as a world leading outlet for foreign tycoons.
Perhaps a second tier of overseas oligarchs are practising their currency exchange skills at the soccer pitches on Hackney Marshes. That would certainly explain the borough’s new found prowess as an epicentre for international business.
BIS is doing itself and the UK no credit whatsoever with this endless charade – endeavouring to dress up booby prizes as the Oscars. Enough already.