One of the big local issues in Battersea at the moment is concern over the future of the independent shops on Northcote Road brought about by rent increases. The shopkeepers and many local residents are worried that higher rents will push out the individual, owner run shops and fill the road with the same high street brands that you find in every other shopping street in the country.
They have a good point,
But why are the Conservatives fans of small business? Is it a purely pragmatic, economic attraction? I don’t think so.
Here is my take on it.
Small privately owned businesses are analogous to the way that Conservatives would like the country to be and the big multiple outlet chains are the Labour party’s world view. Labour love centralised, big and controlled, Conservatives love local, small and autonomous.
With the big chains consistency is the order of the day, whether McDonalds, B&Q or Marks and Spencers, they are never appalling and never dropping below a set level of service or product quality. But to maintain that consistency they have to set the bar at a fairly modest level. McDonalds don’t do Gordon Ramsey, B&Q don’t do Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen and M&S don’t do Ozwald Boeteng.
The Conservatives on the other hand embrace diversity.
With private, independent shops you do sometimes get a bad one with poor service or overpriced products. But you also get gems, some absolutely great shops, ones that you tell your friends about, ones that you go out of your way to shop in. More variation than the big chains but with a higher top end and over time the bad shops go out of business and are replaced by better ones.