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Lab SP: An Economy for All
#1
Leader of the Opposition Caroline Blakesley, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Sustainable Growth Eleanor Nerina, and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ethan Richland visited the Warwick Manufacturing Group* to announce Labour’s vision for business, innovation, skills, and infrastructure.

Caroline Blakesley spoke first:

Quote:The past weeks upended Westminster. This month, we took action to block the Conservative Party’s no deal, no win Brexit proposal. And the decisive action we took was enough to force the Prime Minister to call an election.
 
This election will transform Britain. It represents our last chance to ensure Will Croft and Harold Saxon cannot get the no deal, no win Brexit that they both want. If they win, Britain will crash out of the European Union with no deal. William Croft talks about getting Brexit sorted – what they mean is getting no deal sorted. What they mean is ensuring a catastrophe for businesses, for communities, and for workers across our country.
 
That is not the Britain we should aspire to be. Conservative dithering for three years over Brexit already costed our economy too much. Now is the time to do better, to be better. To build the economy that empowers every worker, every business across our home. To build an economy where government is a partner, not a problem for businesses seeking to invest and grow and workers seeking to gain skills and better pay. Together we can build a strong economy for workers and business alike.
 
Labour will bring about an all-in economy in Britain: an economy where workers, businesses, and communities shortchanged by nine years of Conservative government will see employment, income, and productivity growth. Labour will bring forward a partnership for progress that unites government, businesses, workers, and communities towards a shared mission of creating prosperity and opportunity across the United Kingdom. It is an economy founded on four basic principles: investing in workers, lifting the whole of our country, building markets that work, and launching an innovation revolution.
 
We believe in investing in our workers by ensuring that the National Living Wage is enforced and helping every company invest in reskilling and ownership opportunity for their workers. Worker’s rights are fundamental to the fairness of our economy and we must champion every company that respect those rights – but for the small number of companies that exploit them, we will crack down. We must make it easier for every company to invest in their workers, whether that is by partnering with education institutions to provide retraining, developing new reskilling programs, or issuing shares to their employees. It’s time to recognise that workers do best when their employer invests in them and they’re invested in their employer.
 
We believe in lifting the whole of the United Kingdom up by ensuring that for every £1 spent on new non-housing infrastructure in London and the South East, £4 will be spent outside of London and the South East. A stronger economy in the United Kingdom means that no matter where you are – a city or town, Glasgow or Gloucester, North or South – we will invest to ensure you are connected, we will provide the basic tools that every business and every worker needs to succeed. We can, we must ensure that no community is left behind for our economy is only as strong as our weakest region, as our poorest town.
 
We believe in building markets that work for business and for workers by ensuring robust competition and access to capital. Travelling around the United Kingdom, I hear of too many start-ups, too many entrepreneurs that get crowded out by big companies. I hear of too many small businesses and too many workers that cannot set up a bank account because their local bank closed, who pay too much for energy. We must work to ensure that no community is left unbanked and no business is forced out because competition is quashed. We must build markets that work because even our strongest company or hardest worker is hampered by our weakest market.
 
We believe in launching an innovation revolution to meet the challenges of tomorrow by investing in research and development, building new incubators, and helping businesses find new partners and opportunities to scale their technologies. All the talk of building a green economy, of bringing new technology industries to Britain, of creating new higher paying jobs, means nothing without facilitating the innovation that will make it possible. Whether that innovation is new energy technologies, building the bioeconomy or bioproduction, or training workers to use new technology – it requires a partnership between government, academia, and business to be achieved. We must invest in innovation because our factories, our tech hubs, and our services are only as strong as the ideas they’re built upon.
 
We stand on the verge of a new decade, a new opportunity to make Britain work for workers and business alike. We don’t have to trade worker’s rights for business growth; we don’t have to trade shareholder prosperity for worker opportunity. We must cast off the enmity and discord that held our economy back and build a new economy where a postcode isn’t a problem, a stronger economy where no one – no worker, no business, no community – is left behind. Together we can build an economy that works for everyone, an economy characterised by more than cold numbers: the strength of our workers, the connections of our communities, and the success of our businesses.
 
It’s easy to stand up and talk about figures. It’s easy to go on about unemployment, and investment, and growth. Yet those numbers do not capture the full potential of our British economy. No number could capture our full potential.
 
Politicians talk about jobs. But it’s not job numbers, it’s the workers that fill them, that make us strong. The men and women that toil to make our country more productive. The men and women that seek new skills, innovate new opportunities, and build better products. Together we can deliver a revolution in education and upskilling, a fair deal for rights at work, a new charter for the self-employed.
 
Politicians talk about investment. But it’s not investment, it’s the communities that we invest in, that tie our nation together. Our communities create links far more powerful than any railway. They create the base that allows workers and families to thrive, for our businesses and entrepreneurs to prosper. Together we can deliver a revitalization of High Streets, a new deal for towns and cities, a national infrastructure plan that elevates every community in every corner of our nation.
 
Politicians talk about growth. But it’s not growth, it’s the businesses, the entrepreneurs, and the investors that create new products, develop new ideas, and fund new innovation, that makes us successful. Lifted by a competitive market, they are the entrepreneurial backbone of our innovation nation, our green industrial revolution, our all-in economy. Together we can deliver real financing for businesses, a competitive and open marketplace, and new investment for innovation.
 
Britain finds itself a rich country; but it’s not our GDP that makes us rich. Our nation is built on a vibrant patchwork, a constellation of workers, communities, and businesses that, together, create a moment of lift, a dramatic opportunity, that allows ideas to take flight. We are an entrepreneurial people, a people that seek to design, to build, to test, and to improve. And we all have a part to play in taking our entrepreneurial spirit and building a nation that is more than the sum of its parts. A nation where workers are strong because business is strong and business is strong because workers are strong. A nation where businesses build communities and communities build businesses. A nation where workers support communities and communities support workers. It is all of our parts that make Great Britain great: Labour will deliver an economy for all.

Caroline steps away from the podium as Eleanor Nerina steps up:

Quote:Thank you very much Caroline. 

Westminster is now abuzz with talk of a General Election. Now I’m a politician so for me elections are what I live for – there’s little in life like the high of walking 40,000 steps a day to deliver leaflets, shake hands, and kiss babies. But for business, industry, and for all of you whose jobs rely on them – I can imagine that this election must come as a punch in the gut. First you had the prospect of us leaving Europe with no deal and no plan. Then the prospect of another set of negotiations and uncertainty. And now an election to add to that. I’m always up for fighting an election, but if I had it my way I think it would have been better for the government to get its act together, sort out Brexit and then have the election. I think the last few years have seen the triumph of personal ambition in politics before national interest, and that has been hugely damaging for business, industry, and workers alike.

And we see that in the real world. Since the start of last year business investment is down nearly £1,000 million – that’s less investment being made in jobs and wages of the future. We have gone from being one of the fastest growing advanced economies to the slowest. And our high street is crumbling. If the government hadn’t failed in its handling of Brexit to give business and industry the certainty it needs, and the economy had grown as well as it was beforehand, every household would be around £1,000 better off this year than they are right now. That’s the real human cost of uncertainty and political division.

So what can we do about it? As Business Secretary, and with the future Prime Minister and Chancellor here, our overriding concern is to offer certainty, stability, and good government. To stop this pointless see-saw from no deal to pointless gestures to deal and back to no deal. We will be the grown-ups William Croft fails to be with Europe, take no deal off the table, and negotiate a deal that fulfills the referendum result and gives business continued access to European markets.

Beyond that, I believe that together we can build a better economy for everyone. And I do mean together -we as business, government, and the millions of hard-working employees on which our economy depends. That’s why as soon as I become Business Secretary I want to establish a National Economic Council that brings together the brightest minds and representatives from business and trade unions so that we can tackle big challenges like skills, climate change, and getting investment going together, rather than pretending that one or the other of us knows all the answers.

And if you will permit me a little longer, I want to lay out what my three priorities would be for us to tackle together, and how we intend to do that.

First, I want to support business and industry to invest more in the UK – in jobs, in research, in exporting and across our country. Stability plays a big role in that. But when we launch our manifesto I intend for us to lay out the biggest package of support for small business in a generation, including support for them to take on the opportunities of Brexit and become worldwide exporters. I want to transform the British Business Bank into a truly National Investment Bank so that it is providing vital investment in jobs of the future to both large and small businesses. I want to expand research tax credits and Budgets so that we can reward and support the most innovative businesses and make the UK the high-tech economy of the future. And I want to save our high street, including working with the Chancellor on a new review that will fundamentally change business rates - and make them fairer for the average shopkeeper struggling to make ends meet.

Second, I want everyone to have access to good, well-paid, jobs. Too many people are forced into jobs with little security, little pay, and little chance for progression. To do that I want to launch a National Skills Programme that fixes the problems of the Tories’ flawed apprenticeships levy and gives everyone the opportunity to train and progress. I want, alongside business and unions, to really crack the problem the Government has ignored and make sure that all workers, including the self employed and those in the gig economy, have access to fair rights and responsibilities at work – ensuring that those minority of employers that abuse the system are no longer able to do so. And I want to make sure we have a truly living wage, to give everyone a pay rise – so I will commit to work with unions and with business to agree a realistic and fair timetable to take the National Living Wage to the real living wage - at least two-thirds of average earnings -  and discuss how we can support businesses – especially small businesses - in that transition.

Finally, I want to launch an infrastructure revolution, mobilising nearly £1 trillion of public and private investment to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and boost its economy, especially outside of London where there has been a critical lack of investment for decades. Crucially, I want us to move on from debates about who owns what and get down to a simple question: how do we mobilise our national resources, together, to build the roads, windfarms, railways, and superfast broadband connections that we need to turbocharge our economy into the next decade? And if that isn’t clear enough for the press at the back, I would like to be clear that in the term of government we are seeking we will not be seeking to take any existing companies into public ownership. We will consider establishing new public companies to invest in green energy or in infrastructure where it is sensible to do so. But our priority is to get building, to pick up the shovel and start building those new railway lines in the North and laying new superfast broadband on to rural communities in Cumbria and the Highlands – not to navel-gaze on the appropriate corporate structures endlessly.

We will release our full plans soon – and I urge you to let us know what you think, and to get involved in the conversation. Together, we can build a stronger, fairer, more stable economy for all of us – for the businesses that invest and create jobs; for the shopkeepers that form the backbone of the high street; and for the workers who make it all happen on the shop floor. Thank you very much.

As Eleanor finishes, Ethan Richland, the Shadow Chancellor takes the podium.

Quote:Thank you all for allowing me to speak to you, and a special thank you to Caroline and Eleanor for their remarks as well. I didn’t think I could ever be up here, with minds and personalities like theirs- no question that they’re the leaders that this country needs.

A few years ago, I was a bus driver. My main focus was getting people where they wanted to go on time, and on the side I tried to help my fellow co-workers with their own financial needs, making ends meet with their own meagre budgets, particularly when you compare it to the spending and revenue of an entire country. I tried to keep my head down, just do the best I can and make it through my shifts. 

And in a way, I think Labour has allowed itself to do the same- at least be portrayed that way. Keeping its head down focused on the main goals of bringing about social and economic justice to people who have needed it and been denied it so long. In the process of pursuing a very noble goal- and one that is still at the heart of everything we stand for and talk about today- we allowed ourselves to be painted as a party that is anti-business. In focusing on fair pay and workers’ rights, we let ourselves be painted as a party that thought business should be choked out of existence. In focusing on safe products or fuel efficiency, we let ourselves be painted as lovers of the regulatory state with all the costs that come with it. I can guarantee that we’ll hear those same charges thrown out in the next election, and the one after that, and the one after that. 

But the reason we’re here today is to push back against that. Labour is not anti-business. It’s not anti-business to want people’s wages to meet their needs. It’s not anti-business to want a level playing field for small businesses and large, free of confusing tax codes that reward a very few while leaving other businesses footing the bill. It’s not anti-business to want prosperity in every part of this country and not just London. 

I know that businesses want to give back as well. They want to serve their communities. They want to make sure their workers are cared for. They want highly-trained workers through apprenticeships and other schemes. They want fair, predictable treatment. 

What, then, is anti-business? Is there any party in the United Kingdom that is anti-business? I think that there is- I think that anyone who comes forward promising a deal… then no deal… then a deal… then an election… then maybe a deal again even better than the last one is bringing about the kind of uncertainty that makes it impossible to invest and grow a business. That is anti-business. I think that anyone who wants to change our tax policy not to promote growth but to reward special friends while also cutting back on infrastructure and the other foundations for growth is anti-business. I could go on, but I would imagine the Conservatives will come here and make that all clear enough in their own time. 

The goal of Labour when it comes to our economy has three keys. First, ensuring every young person has the skills they need. Second, reducing the blight of inequality. And third, ensuring the opportunities are there to succeed while also maintaining a basic standard of living for everyone. These are goals businesses share. 

In my bus driving, keep-my-head down days, that would have just been something the Government mandated and everyone had to follow. But Labour doesn’t believe that. It’s not just the state that can order these things and they happen. 

That’s why this Labour is keeping its head up and its arms open. Open to working with business on our shared goals. Open to new ideas that can meet these shared goals rather than just sticking with an old orthodoxy. Open to a future where businesses, workers, and government walk forward and work together to ensure better and more prosperous lives for all. 

For us, you’ve heard the plans we’ve laid out so far, designed to reshape how business is done. You’ve heard about apprenticeships and reforms to a program that will help businesses and workers alike, about a national living wage with support for businesses that need it, on a National Investment Bank directing significant and meaningful funds all across the United Kingdom to build solid roads, predictable and affordable power, and providing businesses with a real foundation for growth. 

You’ve also heard of broader goals that we have to fund and support an innovation revolution, to support Britain’s workers, and to provide the best for every one whose participation in our economy- more so than just one group or another- makes us a truly dynamic and prosperous country. You’ve heard about how we need more inclusion in the decisions that are made and more inclusion in the benefits that a robust economy can and should bring to all.

We want to reform taxes to make them simpler, fairer, and lower for the vast majority of businesses- small businesses- that employ tens of millions and provide innovative products and services in this country and around the world. We want to finally address concerns with how business rates affect businesses and how they’re applied with a new, transparent, fairer system. We want to simplify the process to register, set up, and then expand a business. And we want to smooth our relations with other countries and ensure open markets for British businesses so that trade flows can continue and grow as opposed to using tantrums to pull up new barriers with our closest neighbors in Europe. 

Businesses, when they work together with their workers, can achieve amazing things- fair rights, fair wages, and fair profits for shareholders. 

Labour wants to take that further- imagine what we can achieve working with business. Imagine what happens when we put our minds and our efforts together to achieve our shared goals of a fair economy, where every young person has the skills they need. Where we reduce and eliminate the blight of inequality. And where the opportunities are there to succeed while also maintaining a basic standard of living for everyone.

You’ll see this in the core of the plans we’re making as they get rolled out in the coming days. And we’ll be looking to businesses not necessarily for their support or endorsement- although Caroline will tell me that I should make sure we get that- but we’ll be looking for their thoughts. Their guidance and support. And we’ll make the adjustments we need for a workable plan that we can all get behind. 

None of us- in Labour, in business, or in society as a whole- wants to see people who are reduced to rough sleeping. None of us wants to live in a society where food bank collection points are needed in every supermarket. None of us wants to live in a society where one in three children grows up in poverty.

I want a decent society. Eleanor does. Caroline does. And every man or woman who has had an innovative idea and wanted to set up a business does too. We don’t have to choose between these businesses or this fairer society because it’s Labour that has the drive and ideas to bring both. We want to provide homes and jobs but to also ensure that the investment pounds are there. We want to see growth across the country but also ensure that investments are spread equally throughout the country rather than focused on London. 
 
Now we’re standing up to say we can do that- but we can do that without keeping our heads down. We can do that and push back on the idea that we’re anti-business or that we want to see this economy subjected to orthodoxy and whims. We’re not anti-business… and we’re going to make sure that you’re aware we have the plans, the ideas, and the policies that create opportunities and growth- for everyone. United, with businesses as allies, we can make a difference. That’s the true promise of Labour.

After their speeches, Caroline, Eleanor, and Ethan pose for some photos and then go to mingle with the crowd and take pictures.

*Location approved by Rick
Caroline Blakesley MP DCB
Prime Minister (June 2019-)
MP for Manchester Central (2015-) | Labour
Traits: Fundraising Extraordionare, Campaign Guru, Media Darling, Constituency Pariah
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#2
Great speech just before the election which equally showed us that this wouldn't simply be the Brexit election the Tories tried to make it. 2xp to Blakesley, no XP to the other two because they signed out.
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