I came to Brighton to speak at the Spark Social Enterprise innovation conference, a social enterprise beano. The enthusiasm amongst devotees of business with a social purpose is intoxicating. But step outside its narrow circle and you have people looking at you when you mention social enterprise bemused, as if it was an untried novelty.
Brighton is Gordon and Anita Roddick to me. It’s the peppermint foot lotion, marmalade shampoo, carrot body butter revolution to me. It’s their little shop called The Body Shop next door to an undertaker’s – who were understandably miffed at their new neighbour’s name.
And how the Roddicks supported social business, like The Big Issue, with Gordon actually coming up with the concept of a London street paper.
Picture framing for disabled people? Down in Bognor a social business that employs the disabled to make picture frames seemed to be the quintessential thing I am aiming at: to get businesses going and supported where that thing you were going to buy you buy from a business with a social echo.
The day before I was in the House of Lords for the swearing in of the new parliament after the almost regime-changing election. There was May and Corbyn and the Cabinet and Opposition crammed together.
Unfortunately they did not turn to each other and say “probably similar to 1940 we are in a terrible political and geographical pickle, so why not find a way of putting REPAIR UK, or some such term, foremost above sectional interests?”