As the first week of campaigning comes to an end and the media builds itself into a frenzy about the 7 way Leader’s Debate, now’s probably as good a time as any to give the first of what will become a regular update and overview of election activity from a business perspective.
So far the most overused word has to be “better”. We’ve had Labour’s “A Better Plan for Business”; “A Better Plan for Britains prosperity” and “ A Better Plan. A Better Future”. The Conservatives have weighed in with “On the road for a better future” and “A Better Future for Your family and Britain” plastered on their election bus. So irrespective of who wins it seems that things can only get better….wait a minute haven’t we heard that somewhere before?
Policy wise Labour released their business manifesto and also walked into a firestorm with their full page FT advert around business views on the EU. As regards the manifesto a lot of it certainly made the right noises and nodded in the direction of much of our Campaign for Business. Though light on details the direction of devolution looks set to continue under a Labour government. Proposals around cutting business rates are certainly welcome and backing up the work that we have been doing the last 2 years they have called for employers to have more control over apprenticeship funding. Interestingly what it doesn’t mention is any policy relating to Zero Hour Contracts. Obviously these changes wouldn’t impact on business.
Of course how much may survive any future coalition deals remains to be seen but it seems a good start irrespective of the media nonsense about which business leaders can write a better letter (there’s that word again).
The Conservatives hit back (sort of) with the now infamous 100 signature letter that many people now take as the gospel according to the business community. We know better of course and have a much more realistic overview of what a large city region business community expect form government. Whilst some relevant points were made I do hope that the Conservative business manifesto is made of something a bit more substantial.
As I write this there’s another 35 days to go. I’m busy planning the Chamber’s activity around this and also the devolution issue which to me at least probably has more resonance than anything so far at a national level. Keep watching for news about some important events happening soon and how you can get involved with developing a genuine plan for better business.
More next week.