Thursday, September 25, 2014

Saving Tesco

There was a time, not too long ago, that Tesco was the epitome of high-street evil. It was the supermarket par excellence, the destroyer of all that is good and the target of campaigns of vilification from the middle-class commentariat. They hated Tesco for a variety of reasons - it was successful, it sold cheap food and other goods, it was ferociously competitive and so on. Of course the idea that the proles should have access to a wide range of cheap food was never going to go down well. Personally, I grew up on a south London council estate with only one small supermarket (it was called the Wavy Line if I remember correctly) to serve the entire estate. Like a lot of people we didn't have access to a car for a lot of the time, so our weekly shop was done there. Prices were high and choices limited. Once we got a car we did the decent thing and drove to a Tesco or Sainsbury's where the food was cheaper, fresher and we had a whole lot more choice. And I admit it, I think big supermarkets are miracles of logistical science and that they've been a huge factor in the improvement in peoples diets, they've helped broaden our palates in ways that were unimaginable in the 1970s.

But back to today. With Tesco ailing, profits falling and the company no longer as successful as it once was, I'm wondering how long it is before someone starts campaigning to save it. You see, here's the thing. While Tesco was successful it was the epitome of evil. Now that it's limping there will be those who decide that it's the job of the state to intervene. They'll discover the good things that Tesco does - jobs for local people, for example - and they'll say that it's the job of our tax money to save this wounded giant. Success is equivalent to evil in this mindset, failure is a mark of virtue and virtue must be preserved using our tax money.

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