Last night I watched the Panorama programme about the cheep clothing company Primark.
The programme highlighted the way in which many of the shop's clothes are made in poor conditions in India.
Some of those employed making the clothes are kids as young as 7 years old. Some of the children have been sold by their parents to the employers and are, in fact, slaves. Some of the adults making Primark clothes are paid as little as 50 pence a day.
Similar programmes have shown that GAP, Burberry and other Western fashion companies rely on the same abuses of labour in poorer countries.
Panorama noted that "boycotting" Primark and other companies that use similar production methods would be counter productive. If Primark runs away from India, then the Indian economy will suffer and those who rely on the pittance that they receive for making westerners' posh clothes will be even poorer.
The answer, according to Panorama, is for customers to put pressure on the shopping chain. We must insist that Primark does ensure that its Indian suppliers' provide more than minimum standards, minimum wages and minimum working conditions. Primark should also be persuaded to ensure that those employed in its suppliers' factories are offered health care and educational facilities for their children.
All of this sounds good. If it came to pass because of pressure from the British Broadcasting Corporation it would make us all so proud to be British.
But hold on, there is a whiff of history in the Beeb's answer to Primark's problems. It is reminiscent of the British tea companies that controlled the Raj, made Victoria Empress of India and sent missionaries to impose moral, ethical and educational standards on the sub-continentals; because British companies knew better than Indian rulers.
India has been an independent nation since 1948. It is up to the Indian Government, not Primark, GAP, Burberry or the BBC, to decide minimum work standards in India, it is up to the Indian Government to insure that the standards that it legislates are adhered to.
British (Irish in Primark's case) companies laying down the law in India, in the way that Panorama advocates, takes us back to the bad old days of Imperialism.
Other comment on Primark & Panorama:
SNP Tactical Voting
A shameful example of political propaganda dressed up as education from Ysgol Llanhari
And many others, most of whom have bought the imperialist message .