Saturday, 20 June 2015

A myth in need of de-bunking

 Since Labour`s defeat in the election, the view that the party was insufficiently pro-business to be electable, seems to have taken hold. The candidates for Labour leadership, Corbyn excepted, have exacerbated the situation with their acceptance of this opinion; they all swallow the nonsense that Labour failed to win over what they embarrassingly call "wealth creators", with one cringingly calling them "heroes", and that this cost them the election. Mary Creagh dropped out of the race with an article in which she stated that Miliband`s division of business "into producers or predators" actually "alienated business".
       The time is ripe to de-bunk this myth before it becomes the accepted norm, and before Labour spends the next five years sucking up to big-business and the City fat cats, and haemorrhaging even more votes in the next election. The more "pro-business" Labour gets, the more Tory policies it adopts, and the more votes it loses from traditional supporters and ordinary people. How many votes would Miliband`s Labour have gained had they promised to lower corporate tax levels further, or to go easy on business`s tax avoidance? The whole idea is crazy, dreamed up by the Blairites, with Mandelson at the helm, to divert the party to the right.
        Let`s get things straight: it is their own behaviour which divides businesses "into producers or predators", not politicians` imaginations, and Miliband was merely pointing out that the ones which fail to pay employees sufficient wages so that billions of in-work benefits are needed, but simultaneously manage obscene levels of renumeration and bonuses for those at the top, or which do everything possible to deny the Treasury the taxes due due it, despite Britain having the lowest corporate tax level of all G7 countries, need to change their behaviour. When Miliband stressed the need for banks to change their culture of profit-at-all-costs and to end the scams and ripping-off their customers he was only saying what the majority of us think. If this "alienated business", then so be it, but it did not account for the election defeat, despite what the Blairite "old guard" might think.
         Creagh  failed to mention that when Miliband did admonish "irresponsible capitalism" in conference speeches and in the election campaign, and that when he pledged to freeze energy bills until 2017 and pass on wholesale price cuts to customers, his, and the Labour party`s, approval ratings soared in the opinion polls. The more he attacked business for its greed, and in the case of the banks, the scams, the more the voters liked it, so it doesn`t make sense to say that Labour was not pro-business enough. Perhaps not anti-business`s bad behaviour enough is nearer the truth?
        Anyway, if Labour wasn`t sufficiently pro-business, why did Balls and Miliband promise smaller firms that they would have been the first to benefit under a Labour government, with a cut to business rates on 1.5 million small business premises?
         Was it the tone in which Miliband addressed business which offended them? Hardly! Blairites would do well to remember how he announced himself at the CBI`s annual conference last November, saying that it was "great" to be there, "celebrating the work" that business does "day-in,day-out for the people of this country"? He added that he would never "risk" their businesses by "playing political games with membership of the EU", and added that change was necessary for the economy so that it met "the basic aspirations of the British people.
         Despite what the right wing of the Labour party says, there is evidence to suggest that, had the party adopted a bolder approach to business, including gradual re-nationalisation of the railways, the transformation of RBS into a People`s Bank fully owned by the taxpayers, and re-employing the thousands who have lost their jobs at HMRC, the election result would have been somewhat different.
     Whatever happens in the coming months, Labour must stop apologising for Miliband`s supposedly anti-business stance, and saying it cost them the election; it`s a myth in serious need of de-bunking!

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