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Blair hits out at ecommerce laziness

Businesses accused of being slow to embrace technology, a case of the pot calling the kettle grimy arse?

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Prime Minister Tony Blair believes UK companies aren't doing enough to exploit ecommerce. According to the FT he is to issue a "wake up call" to UK Plc warning that unless it gets to grips with ecommerce the country could be left behind. His kick-up-the-backside pep talk is scheduled to be delivered in a report due out in the autumn. But taking such a stand has left the PM open to accusations of hypocrisy. The government's own handling of the ecommerce bill and the delayed appointment of an ecommerce envoy has been widely criticised. And while the government is strong on rhetoric, it appears short on action. The former minister for ecommerce, Michael Wills, admitted the government was unable to keep pace with the development of the Internet and wired services. And the PM's warning that UK companies are falling behind the US is nothing new. The same thing was said only nine months by leading analyst firms Forrester Research and Fletcher Research/A>. Some industry insiders admitted privately that the government would do better to get its own house in order before attacking the business community. But the views of Tony Blair were endorsed by one UK entrepreneur. Martha Lane Fox, director and co-founder of Lastminute.com said UK companies do need to be encouraged to expand online or be prepared face the consequences. "There are companies doing it, but there are not enough of them," she said. She blamed the UK's lack of entrepreneurial spirit and the cautious approach of new business investors as two of the reasons for the country's poor performance. ®

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