In Scotland to be considered for a government contract a company must be able to show that it is paying what the UK government laughingly calls a living wage and that there is no exploitative use of zero-hours contracts in the organisation.
I’m not sure that anyone could much disagree with that.
I’d expect the same thing to happen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, although I don’t know if it’s so.
But there is a new condition for contracts being awarded to companies by the UK/English government and it worries me.
They are calling it ‘Cultural Fit’. A company must fit with the cultural of the British government if they wish to work on a state contract. Does that mean they have to agree with other government policies too? If so, how many of them and which ones? Does it mean all the company’s staff have to agree with the government or just the management?
Will they be asking if you are Protestant or Catholic?
What about if you are a monarchist or republican?
Do you vote Tory?
Do you back the privatisation of all state assets?
Have you donated to the Conservative Party?
And if the government can legally do that on its contracts, will they allow companies to hire staff on that basis? What next? Will unemployment and sickness benefits be paid only to Brexiteers?
And, given the balance of opinion in Scotland, 62 to 38, does that mean that Scottish firms will be even more disadvantaged on UK government contract bidding?
I know it sounds ridiculous, but back in the 1980s Tory ex-prime minister Harold MacMillan couldn’t believe that Mrs Thatcher was selling off the family silver, and that was only the electricity, gas and telecoms companies. Now virtually everything in England is privatised. Petit à petit; pas à pas, as they might say in France, these things grow.