British business needs leadership

Only a Labour government can provide businesses, small, medium and big, with the support they need to thrive, writes Ibrahim Dogus

Britain and its people need prosperous businesses. At the moment too many are struggling to expand and grow. This is not good for the economy and it is not good for people. It does not allow for innovation and the development of skills. If small and medium businesses are strangled, eventually this will have a knock-on effect on big business too. Labour will stand up for British businesses and provide them with the support they need. The Tories have undermined industry by failing to invest and failing to provide businesses with certainty and stability. Many do not know how they will make it through to next year with the Tories’ toing and froing on issues from rate hikes to Brexit.

Too many businesses, which could be flourishing, are being held back by a lack of investment, skills and finance. Now is the time for us to be supporting those innovative businesses that can keep us strong and competitive. Years of Tory mismanagement and misguided austerity policies have strangled our economy. We are now desperately in need of support to business in order to finally make the jump out of the crisis after years of treading water. For some countries, the 2008 crisis is a distant memory, a result of changeable fortunes of global finance. For our country, on the other hand, it is sadly still a reality.

And if that was not enough, with Brexit on the horizon, it is unfortunately looking like we will need a strengthening of our economy even more. It is hard to know under the Tories what to expect from Brexit but at the moment, the signs are not looking good. Theresa May has abandoned common sense and the pursuit of a good deal for the sake of short-term electoral gain with her ridiculous, nationalistic drum-beating. This helps no one, neither us nor our friends and partners on the continent.

It is time for some fresh thinking and a clear approach to finally getting our economy back on track, in a way that actually benefits society. Austerity may be an effective economic policy in some situations but not the one we are in. We need clear-sighted, moral leadership, which will negotiate respectfully and effectively with our neighbours and take our economy where it needs to go. We need leadership that understands that a strong economy should be ensured so as to be the foundation of a strong society, not the other way round. I am Labour because I believe in a strong society, where the strong help the weak, where the public services are efficient, and the wealth of the nation is fairly shared among every community. In order to achieve this, we need businesses that thrive.

We will set up a national investment bank and regional development banks to help unlock £500bn of investment over 10 years and lending, including from the private sector, to deliver the critical infrastructure and skills businesses need. We will reform business rate taxation to ease the burden on the traditional high street and town centres, take action on late payment and reintroduce the small profit corporation tax rate and commit to no quarterly reporting for businesses below the VAT threshold. The next Labour government will deliver for businesses and deliver growth, jobs and an economy that works for all. Labour is for the many not the few. It is not anti-business. Labour recognises that strong business, small, medium or big, all help society, when the system functions fairly.

Under the Tories, working families are set to be an average of £1,400 a year worse off by 2020. Real wages are still lower now than they were in 2010. Our health service has been plunged into crisis with waiting lists up, our accident and emergency units are overcrowded and hospitals in financial crisis. Our schools, suffering from Tory cuts, are seeing soaring class sizes and more unqualified teachers. Young people, already saddled with soaring debts, are facing even bigger tuition fee hikes. Under the Tories housebuilding has fallen to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s. The Tories have cut more than 20,000 police officers and 6,000 police community support jobs have been cut since 2010.

Ask yourself, has austerity worked? If not, why elect a government that effectively promises more of the same? Right now, at this critical juncture, with our future still so uncertain, we need to be doing all we can to support our businesses. The Tories are living in a fantasy world in which they believe an outdated ideology will save the country if only they can just cut that little bit more. It is about time they woke up and if they don’t we need to wake them up.