Five reasons another Conservative government would be bad for business

Repeated accusations that Labour are 'anti-business' wear thin after examining the Tories' dubious track record with UK businesses

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Ed Miliband has today launched Labour’s business manifesto. The Labour leader chose to delive his pledges in person, in what many will view as an extra attempt to reach out to British business.

Meanwhile David Cameron has told voters they face a ‘stark choice’ between himself and Ed Miliband, after visiting Buckingham Palace to seek the dissolution of parliament.

With the short campaign about to take off in earnest, we look at five reasons why another Conservative government would make things worse for British business:

1. EU referendum

The issue of a possible Brexit has dominated Labour’s argument about business. Conservative policy is to promise an in-out referendum on EU membership, which could happen as early as next year. Their Eurosceptic rhetoric has already drawn criticism from EU leaders who have warned the UK that its position will be marginal outside of the EU.

Business leaders have been vocal about the detrimental impact an EU withdrawal would have on UK business, emphasising huge job losses and the tariffs and quotas that could be imposed. Meanwhile new economies like Asia and Latin America will be looking to invest in the EU and not a small and isolated UK.

As Ed Miliband said today:

“[An EU withdrawal] threatens to shut UK businesses out of a market that gives them access to the world’s largest trading bloc – it’s simply the wrong direction for our country.”

2. Executive pay packets

A survey by the High Pay Centre this month showed that executive pay is damaging the public’s perception of business. 52 per cent of respondents (members of the Institute of Directors) said that ‘anger over senior levels of executive pay’ was the biggest threat to public trust in business. Ironically, the Conservatives may be bad for big business because they are simply too close to it.

Huge pay inequality hardly makes for a positive climate for businesses to flourish in, especially as this leaves smaller businesses feeling that their own work is not rewarded.

Deborah Hargreaves, director of the High Pay Centre, said:

“Outside the boardrooms of big corporations, ordinary small and medium-sized business owners are as appalled by the culture of top pay as anybody else.”

3. Tax dodging

Last week, Conservative MEPs in Brussels voted against measures which would have clamped down on dodgy tax practices. In February, 12 wealthy Tory donors were investigated by HMRC on suspicion of immoral tax practices. Cameron also appointed former HSBC boss Stephen Green as Trade and Investment minister, allegedly after he had been made aware that, under Green’s leadership, the bank’s Swiss subsidiary had helped wealthy clients to evade and avoid tax.

Tax avoidance undermines the system that provides the infrastructure necessary to maintaining strong businesses, as well as taking millions out of the UK economy – the PCS estimates that the tax gap cost the UK economy more than 119 bn in £2013/14. The Tories’ continued reluctance to clamp down on these practices raises serious questions about their commitment to a growth that is fair and proportionate.

4. Green business

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, has pointed out that leaving the EU would mean the UK lost influence in climate change negotiations, and that pledges to lower carbon emissions sit uneasily alongside a potential EU exit.

Davey said last week that:

“The Conservative position on Europe is potentially economic and environmental irresponsibility of the highest order. Overall our voice in the debate will be dramatically reduced if at the time we are trying to renegotiate our membership of the EU club before a referendum.”

The Conservatives are bad for green business because they are heavily reliant on donations from the traditional energy sector. David Cameron has personally met with representatives from the ‘Big Six’ energy companies, leading Labour to accuse the party of having vested interests in remaining hostile to green alternatives.

George Osborne’s Budget was met with dismay by Green business leaders, who accused the chancellor of being dangerously out of touch with environmental issues. David Nussbaum, the chief executive of WWF-UK, said:

“Opportunity knocked but the chancellor only partially opened the door to greener, smarter growth.

“The chancellor could have created jobs and boosted growth through long-term incentives for clean technologies. Giving the Green Investment Bank access to private capital would help more enterprises prosper.”

Labour has proposed giving the bank significant powers to borrow from the private sector.

5. Immigration

Immigration is good for business. As CBI director John Cridland puts it:

“Immigration has helped keep the wheels of this recovery turning by plugging skills shortages. This has led to more jobs for British people and driven growth. Without free movement of workers, the recovery would grind to a halt.”

Hospitals and care homes could not function without overseas workers; nor could the building industry. Research has shown that EU migrants have made a positive contribution of around £2,732 per person per year since 2001.

The immigration caps and targets that the Conservatives are proposing run counter to the advice of business leaders and economists. Changes to the visa system have made it harder for the best foreign students to move into work after university, robbing the UK of potentially strong assets. Tightening the borders even further will mean that investors, students and companies start to look elsewhere.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

7 Responses to “Five reasons another Conservative government would be bad for business”

  1. JoeDM

    Its time to get out of the EU and be ‘Big World’ and not failed ‘little europeans’.

  2. Jack

    If Labour are so great for business, list ten major businesses that want a Labour government.

  3. Guest

    “Big World” is not your “cancel trade”, and “require VISA’s” and “close the borders”.

    The failure we have is with our domestic economy policy, not having black people.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    Your proposition – so list ten that don’t. Their own statements.

  5. littleoddsandpieces

    LABOUR IS LOSING POOR VOTE
    WORTH FAR MORE THAN BUSINESS VOTE

    The super rich are about 300,000 men.

    Most of those above £125,000 income are men.

    The vast majority who have been hit by tax, pension and welfare cuts are women, who tend to be much lower paid and more of the working poor and poor pensioners.

    MAKING THE POOR, POORER IS ANTI BUSINESS

    With the bulk of the population with decreased spending power, and some fallen through the floor into penniless starvation, then capitalism cannot thrive.

    The poor are not the problem.

    Nor is banker bonus or executive pay.

    The Living Wage oif £10 per hour, that brings spending money into the economy is the solution.

    Paying benefit / full state pension to all, with less conditionality and practically nil welfare admin, is the other means of saving such as the dying high street.

    WITHOUT THE PARTIES OF THE POOR OF THE LEFT
    WINNING MPS,
    LABOUR CANNOT WIN

    Experts predict the most severe hung parliament for the UK parliament.

    Then a second general election this year, when we get
    TORY / LABOUR COALITION.

    Labour will diminish as has Lib Dems, that are now the gone party.

    NO SINGLE PARTY OR EVEN A COALITION OF TWO PARTIES CAN RULE IN A MAJORITY IN 2015

    Labour alone, even with SNP and a few Plaid Cymru,
    cannot form a majority government.

    Neither can the Tories, only with 2 or 3 UKIP and maybe 8 or 9 DUP from Ulster. But DUP could just as easily side with Labour, either first or second place party in hung parliament.

    NO SUCH THING AS A SMALL PARTY

    However small, voting in a MP from a small party of the poor of the left, is voting them all into an anti austerity party in the same government.

    TUSC / MEBYON KERNOW / SOCIALIST GB / CLASS WAR

    TUSC is the 6th biggest party in the UK, running over 125 MP candidates this year. Total silence from the media and in blogs.

    TUSC is running in Tory and Lib Dem marginals,
    where the poor vastly outnumber all other voters.

    MEBYON KERNOW
    Cornwall has single figure votes that got the sitting Tory or Lib Dem MP into the job in 2010.

    SOCIALIST GB AND CLASS WAR
    Running in marginals again with less votes gained by sitting Tory or Lib Dem MPs than the number of poor pensioners and working poor, as well as the poor disabled, and the minority of the poor, that are the ever sanctioned unemployed.

    LOGOS OF THE PARTIES OF THE POOR OF THE LEFT /
    HOW POOR OUTNUMBER ALL OTHER VOTERS /
    HOW ENSURE REGISTERED TO VOTE

    Please see:
    http://www.anastasia-england.me.uk

  6. M2

    In order for a green industrial policy to work, the government must continue to give more and more subsidies to “Green Entrepreneurs” such as Vince Dale (who incidentally is a tax-dodging Labour donor). If Labour is going to raising taxes, I don’t want the money to be spent on enriching these Labour luvvies

  7. sarntcrip

    businesses that don’t like paying their fair wack of tax

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