First, have people at the very top of our party who know the value of work. As the daughter of a lone parent, I learned from an early age the importance of work and that businesses come in all shapes and sizes. By the time I left university, I had worked in newsagents, dry cleaners, pubs, hotels, a baked bean factory and run a department store staff canteen!
Second, let’s talk about creating wealth, as much as we talk about distributing the proceeds. As Shadow Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, I devoted as much time describing the energy industrial revolution – transforming our economy and creating domestic jobs – as I did about the energy price freeze. The media coverage of the freeze and energy market failings far outweighed their interest in the economic vision.
Third, we must be unafraid to promote good business; but firm about tackling bad markets. The energy market stifled competition, innovation and fairer prices. We were right to expose it. Don’t take my word, just see the latest CMA report requested by the Government.
Fourth, Labour must find a new song to sing about economic efficiency. I would simplify business taxation, scrapping most of the 1,100 tax allowances that feed the tax avoidance industry. But I would commit all proceeds from such steps to paying down Government debt. Labour must make the case that high government debts consume money repaying interest that could be paying for services. Failure to address levels of government debt will only feed the suspicion of our commitment to a strong economy.
Five, from early years to further and higher education, we need to have a no child left behind policy – a guarantee of basic and tech skills including the soft skills young people need to cope with work by the time they leave school. A government that put skills on the same footing as university would be seen as more in touch with the needs of employers.
Finally, let’s use the huge untapped reserve of skills of the many people from different sectors of business, who would gladly help to shape policy – but are only asked for money or to grace a gala dinner. Using the hard-won knowledge from entrepreneurs is vital. I will lead a change to put Labour Business firmly inside our policy process.
So, we need leaders who value work; who have vision for the future of a dynamic economic, who celebrate the good and challenge the bad in equal measure, who argue for economic efficiency as essential to good policy, who value skills and self sufficiency, as well as degrees, and who are determined to engage the talents and insight of Labour Business and its friends. This is how our leadership restores the faith of business. And how we get the message out that Labour is back in business. I can help to make that happen.
This statement was written in response to a request to all candidates from the Labour Finance and Industry Group (LFIG), Labour's affiliated business group, to answer the question: What will you do as Leader/Deputy Leader of the Labour Party to bust the myth that Labour is an anti-business party? For more information about LFIG, go to www.lfig.org.