Labour making case that it's not pro-business, says Digby Jones

Former Labour trade minister Digby Jones has warned that Ed Miliband's party is making a persuasive case that they are not pro-business.


Former Labour trade minister Digby Jones has warned that Ed Miliband's party is making a persuasive case that they are not pro-business.

The cross-bench peer Lord Jones of Birmingham warned the actions of the shadow cabinet had shown they "don't get it" when it comes to business.

The ex-CBI director general insisted Labour needed to acknowledge public sector jobs relied on the wealth created by businesses and offer to stimulate investment by lower taxation in return for better behaviour.

Asked if Labour was making a case that it was a party which would support business, Lord Jones told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think Labour has made a persuasive case that they're not.

"I've always thought, never listen to what politicians say, watch what they do.

"And whatever the current shadow cabinet says, their actions, be it let's nationalise land banks, let's have a social market in energy, let's increase business taxes, whatever it may be, they're actually showing by their actions that they don't get it."

He added: "I've not heard one Labour politician in the last three years ever say without the wealth that business creates you have no public sector, you have no taxation, you don't have one job in the country. That's how important business is.

"When you make money in business, you can only do one of three things with it. You can either reward the shareholders who pay tax on it, keep it in the business and pay tax on it or you employ people and they pay tax on it, and that tax goes to pay for good decent people in the public sector."

Told business people would not vote Labour into power, Lord Jones replied: "You didn't ask me whether I thought it was politically popular, because I do."

He added that the previous New Labour governments were successful as they were business-friendly, noting: "We've got the most successful economy in the developed world at the moment and it's going really, really well and it will feed through in time.

"Please don't spoil it by a flight to populism and that's really what worries me."

Lord Jones said there were still about three months for Mr Miliband and others to develop policy before next year's general election.

He went on: "One thing (Tony Blair) got very early on was you have to encourage and inspire - you have to have people aspire to more and in that respect you mus not destroy the dream.

"Business is about risk, reward and dream - work hard, earn more, skill up, earn more and then keep more of what you earn.

"And on the route through there you create employment, you pay tax, you pay for a public sector."

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