Yet again a large corporation has proven itself to be “too big to manage”.
In 2008, the banks were “too big to fail” and the Scottish Christian Party warned about corporations which were “too big to manage”. This warning continues to fall on deaf ears, and such institutions are too big for individuals to take responsibility and so one must blame ‘system failure’.
The UK’s second largest construction company Carillion has failed and gone into liquidation with at least £900 million of debt, a pension deficit of £580m, with only £2.9 million of cash in its coffers, following three profit warnings in 2017, a notorious history of late payments, hedge funds shorting the stock since 2015 and the Government continuing to award contracts to it, albeit latterly as joint ventures so that another company could take over in the event of failure to deliver.
Where were the Christians?
When international disaster strikes, people cry out – where are the Americans? When corporate disaster strikes, I ask – where are the Christians?
Carillion has failed spectacularly – a sight for sore eyes. Yet again the retrospectoscope is used by the far-sighted to tell us the problems after the event. Would that these wise-acres would employ their prophetic skills to warn the country before the event.
The continued granting of Government contracts has all the appearance of a Government shoring up a failed enterprise to keep it afloat. However, where were the Christians on the board of Carillion to warn internally and long ago about the disastrous course on which it was embarked? Were there none? If so, possibly investors and contractors should make such an enquiry as part of their ‘due diligence’.
Prime Minister Theresa May explained that the UK Government was a customer of Carillion, not its manager. The question arises why the Government trusted Carillion. With a decline in Christianity, there is little understanding of the subject of trust, which is central to Christianity.
Trust is central to the change of heart taught by Jesus Christ Jn 3:3,7, so that Christians should be familiar with the topic of trust.
Trust is central to the call of the Gospel “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” Act 16:31 and to the wellbeing of Christians Rom 5:1.
The Scottish Independence referendum and the Brexit vote for leaving the European Union came down to – whom do we trust?
It is time that people understood the role of trust in public life. Stephen Covey sought to do so in The Speed of Trust, by pointing out that distrust slows everything down, which he illustrated by the slowing speed of passing through airport security because of the distrust caused by international terrorism. He states that “trust is a hard-edged, economic driver”. It is also at the heart of the Christian Gospel.
The prophet Jeremiah challenged the false prophet Hananiah that he was making people trust a lie Jer 28:15. We need more of such prophets in public life.
“Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” Isa 26:4.
12 Feb 2018: where was the Christian conscience in Oxfam? The allegations of staff members using prostitutes in Haiti and the cover-up afterwards is symptomatic of our social ills.
21 Mar 2018: where was the Christian conscience in Facebook and Cambridge Analytica?
16 May 2018: the Work and Pensions Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee of MPs have accused the Carillion board of having “a rotten corporate culture”. They have described the Big Four accountancy firms as a “cosy club incapable of providing the degree of independent challenge needed”. There is a long-overdue suggestion that the cartel of auditors needs to be shaken up and sooner rather than later as “Carillion could happen again, and soon”.
8 Oct 2018: in the BBC2 documentary The Bank That Almost Broke Britain about the collapse and bailout of the Royal Bank of Scotland in October 2008, journalist and author Iain Martin says: “The growth of RBS was really blinding almost everyone across the political spectrum and across the financial establishment to what was really going on underneath the surface, under the bonnet, and what was happening was that RBS had effectively grown far too fast. It was simply too big for any individual, no matter how talented, to understand and manage effectively.” [my emphasis].
“RBS was too big to manage; so are many other corporations.”Donald Boyd, October 2008.
10 July 2019: BBC2 broadcast its 2018 documentary The Bank That Almost Broke Britain again. Why today? It looks as if a scheduler mixed up the American dating system 10/7 for 7/10/2008, the date that the Royal Bank of Scotland went bankrupt and had to be rescued with a bailout from the Bank of England.