BIS Committee: Like Watching Monkeys Play With an Abacus

The £60bn acquisition – or as Labour prefers it, “The asset-stripping, job-crushing, tax-scamming, profit-driven destruction of a noble British institution, Predator devouring Astraphilia” – came to Parliament.

At one desk, the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world working on 25-year timescales, developing miracle drugs at the cost of billions of dollars each. Round the horseshoe, Members of the Business Committee.

It was like watching monkeys play with an abacus.

Brian Binley said to the CEO of Pfizer things like, “I’m a businessman,” and “I’m a businessman too,” and “We’re both businessmen.”

Binley chairs a telemarketing company in Wellingborough.

Chairman Adrian Bailey’s qualifications are detailed below.

Perhaps as some sort of anger management therapy, committee members ventilated their feelings – “Your assurances aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on/why should we believe a word you say?/your blind belief in yourself/yes or no, answer the question yes or no.”

No wonder Kraft CEO refused to present herself to such chimps.

The Left on the committee believe in the sanctity of scientists and that the jobs of scientists deserve special reverence. The Right have a special reverence for the votes an unpopular takeover might cost them in a sentimental public. That at least is rational.

None of the MPs were able or willing to admit they had no idea how many scientists it took to make a molecule, or what it should cost, or what it might cost five years out, or why company directors work for profit.

Nor was there any acknowledgement that the vast cost of developing and bringing a drug to market (between $1bn and $5bn) is largely a regulatory cost imposed by cousin chimps in other legislative zoos round the world

The offer, or proposition that Pfizer’s Australian CEO makes is this – the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world wants to spend tens of billions of dollars on a British company and will give a legally-binding spending promise (he insists it’s legally-binding, with unlimited penalties in the case of default) along with an unprecedented five-year guarantee to base a fifth of its R and D in Britain.

He also said that he wasn’t overly concerned with the legalisms because he was a man of honour and had given his word. The board had given their word. No need for guarantees when men of honour were in control.

That is, infallibly, the remark of a rogue, but the MPs had behaved so badly that rogue or not, he got clean away with it.



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GuidoFawkes Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

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