Tom Goodenough

Philip Green is the ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’. What will Theresa May do about it?

Philip Green is the 'unacceptable face of capitalism'. What will Theresa May do about it?
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In her opening pitch as Prime Minister, Theresa May vowed to stick up for the man in the street and fight 'burning injustices'. There will be fewer clear opportunities for her to put those words into action than after today's damning report into Sir Philip Green. It's no understatement to say that Green's reputation lies in tatters following the publication of this report which looked into the circumstances of the collapse of BHS. Green is branded the 'unacceptable face of capitalism'. He is accused of adopting a 'scattergun approach' to try and pin blame elsewhere. Instead, despite his attempts to blame others, the Select Committee report says:

'The truth is that a large proportion of those who have got rich or richer off the back of BHS are to blame. Sir Philip Green, Dominic Chappell and their respective directors, advisers and hangers-on are all culpable. The tragedy is that those who have lost out are the ordinary employees and pensioners.'

Much of the coverage in the media is focusing on whether Green will cling on to his knighthood: MPs said they found 'little evidence' to back up the business acumen for which Green was made a 'Sir'. And, ominously, the report finishes by saying about Green's relationship with BHS:

'To an extent it created him; it could also bring him down.'

But whilst it's not clear whether Green will join the likes of Fred Goodwin and Robert Mugabe in having his prized honour taken away, this whole messy affair is about more than just a title being revoked. The demise of BHS made a few people richer and many worse off: a key cornerstone of Theresa May's early pitch to Britain was to fight just such injustices.

May gave one of her first speeches as Prime Minister under a banner about wanting to create a Britain that 'works for everyone'. This BHS report shows a picture of an exact opposite. Our new Prime Minister says she wants to defend those at the bottom of the ladder and punish irresponsible behaviour in the boardroom. If Theresa May really does want to stick up for the little man and make fighting injustice a part of her legacy, then it's time for her to put her words into action.

Written byTom Goodenough

Tom Goodenough is the Spectator's online editor.

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