George Walford: The Blue and the Green

Against the assertion of the left, that it is primarily the suppliers who manipulate the consumers, we have long been pointing out how the pursuit of profit obliges capitalists to comply with the demands of their customers. Politicians also, far from being able to manipulate their constituents, have to go where the votes are.

Mrs. Thatcher, always quicker than most to scent a change in the wind, has declared herself a convert to the green movement (just how she interprets her new commitments has yet to be seen) and some of the bigger firms have begun to move the same way. In a recent issue IC noted that Wimpy and McDonald, long famous / notorious for their hamburgers, had begun to offer vegetarian dishes, and now a conference on ATTRACTING THE GREEN CONSUMER has brought in over 200 bookings in place of the 50 or so expected; the organisers have had to move it to a larger venue. Those attending will include not only Friends of the Earth and others equally predictable but also Beecham, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Fisons, IBM, ICI and Lever Brothers. As one of the organisers has commented “like a Who’s Who in consumer marketing”. (SUNDAY TIMES, 22 Jan 89).

Where the customers go, the suppliers have to follow. It remains to be seen how Fisons, for example, will change their behaviour and their products but that decision, like Mrs. Thatcher’s, lies more with the consumers than with their own pfeferences. It remains true that this society operates mainly on principles disapproved of by the left, but that only shows that they have failed to convert the general body of the people to their beliefs.

from Ideological Commentary 38, March 1989.