When British people think of politicians who made great speeches many would think first of Winston Churchill - and rightly so as he captured and articulated the mood of a nation at a time of great peril.

Churchill was not the only one. If you look across the Atlantic to America many of the presidents of the United States have made outstanding speeches which resonated with their age and still have relevance now. Kennedy, Clinton, Obama all had the gift, Trump did not.

Another who had the gift was Dwight D Eisenhower. In 1961, a few days before he left office as President, he gave a speech of great power in which he warned of the dangers of what he called the military-industrial complex. Everybody should read that speech because it is highly relevant today.

Eisenhower spoke when memories of war were still fresh in people’s minds and the challenge to freedom and prosperity of communism was very real.

What Eisenhower worried about was an over-mighty defence industry, declaring:“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” And, whilst holding science in respect, he warned “we must be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite”.

The Cold War was won long ago and the military-industrial complex, though not without influence, is not what it was in terms of its grip on public policy.

What has replaced that power is another. The unaccountable but pervasive economic power today is increasingly held by giant corporations which dominate fields of the modern world. In terms of public policy, it is experts and – especially now – those in medicine who hold politicians and the public in their thrall.

The danger today is that, unlike with the threat of communism, we see no danger. The technological giants, the guiding minds of which do not live in our country or answer to our laws, provide products and connectivity, which we sometimes need and certainly want.

These companies, armed with battalions of lawyers and PR advisers, seek to persuade us they are a public good.

That might sometimes be so but it is not their objective, the latter is generally to achieve a market position which is so strong it cannot be challenged.

Far-away monopolies will not serve the people of the UK well and we must as a nation, and with other nations, act much more decisively to curb their power and influence – before it is too late.

The danger from the medical-political complex is even greater because in the Covid-19 crisis we opened the door and welcomed it in. We hang on every word of those paraded before us as medical experts. Our individual freedoms are curtailed and the ability of companies to create wealth is shattered and we hardly complain. The Government orders us not to hug our families because the doctors tell us so – and some of us actually comply.

Now as we “build back better” the business world is gripped by an orthodoxy on climate change and equality for chosen categories which brooks no challenge. Businesses desperately trying to stay solvent are urged to improve their ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance. Companies increasingly cannot get grants or government contracts unless they can show they have worshipped at the altar of diversity. Employees are dismissed for suggesting gender is not assigned but just a fact. Chief executives are cut down for daring to say something which challenges the illiberal cult of correctness. Politicians are howled at for observing that some people are a bit reluctant to come off furlough.

What happened to the truth? What happened to the right to express an opinion which is different to the majority without fear of reprisal? What happened to the central purpose of business – to make a profit which in turn enables taxes to be paid and public services paid for?

Guy Stenhouse is a Scottish financial sector veteran who wrote formerly as Pinstripe