The Labour Party is determined to present a clearer picture to the electorate than 2015 about where it stands with regard to business.
Speaking at the Crouch End Labour Party, Shadow Minister for Small Business Bill Esterson MP outlined a number of important ways in which Labour is seeking to persuade the business community that they are the party most likely to act in the interests of small business.
“Working people do well when the government has a good relationship with business, around the world the best economies understand that managers and workers belong in a partnership.”
He cited several ways in which the current government, and the previous coalition, had made life more difficult for small businesses, which actually make up the vast majority of firms in the country.
Less grants, fewer apprenticeships, the abolition of a career service, the largest ever trade deficit and a refusal to come up with an industrial strategy are among the issues that are making life increasingly difficult for small businesses.
He said Labour would reinstate the apprenticeships cut since 2010, and would develop a long-term strategy to build a relationship between education and work, and between government and manufacturing, which at the moment appears to be non-existent. The recent refusal to help the steel industry is only the most well-known example.
However, he made it clear that businesses have to play their part, stating Labour was “pro-business, but not business-as-usual.” He said the majority of businesses are socially responsible, and they know that this makes sense, but “we think it’s right to pick a fight with businesses who offer zero hour contracts or avoid paying their taxes.”
He also said the City of London “is more concerned with wealth extraction than wealth creation”, and he hoped Labour would be able to force through the previous coalition’s plans to separate ‘casino’ banking from the high street sector.