LABOUR leader Ed Miliband, put on his Tory hat yesterday when he launched his party’s Business Manifesto, at business news agency Bloomberg and stressed the overriding importance of productivity.
Imitating Brown and Blair’s ‘Businessman’s government’ he said: ‘Our plan is based on the idea that Britain can only succeed when all our businesses have the chance to succeed.’
He added: ‘Our plan is to work with all our businesses. With a government that balances the books, invests in infrastructure and works with you to improve skills and open up more competitive markets. . .
‘And it is a plan that won’t risk jobs, exports and investment, or throw businesses into years of uncertainty, by threatening to leave the European Union.’
Declaring that business faced ‘too many obstacles’, he went on ‘we see these challenges in our country most of all in low productivity. For every hour worked, we produce nearly 20 per cent less than our main competitors in the G7.’
He stressed: ‘Our plan for business seeks to close our productivity gap.’
He pledged: ‘So we’ll balance the books and cut the deficit every year.
‘As soon as possible in the next Parliament, we’ll create a surplus on the current budget and national debt will be falling.’
On ‘the struggle for skills’, he said: ‘We can only create the apprenticeships we need by working together with you.
‘Government and business, public sector and private. It is a partnership for a purpose.
‘We will give you control of the money for apprenticeships.
‘And in exchange we will say that any firm that gets a major government contract will have to provide apprenticeships to the next generation.’
‘Second, we need to tackle the problem of access to finance. . .
‘We will create a British Investment Bank, supporting a network of regional banks – to invest in businesses in every single part of Britain.
‘And we will have a market share threshold to make sure there is more competition in business banking on the High Street.
‘We need an effective banking sector and we will work with our banks to ensure that they work for our businesses once again.’
He went on to pledge ‘to keep corporation tax at the lowest rate in the G7’ and ‘cut and freeze business rates for smaller firms’.
He stressed: ‘Our long term future lies inside, not outside, the European Union.
‘There could be nothing worse for our country or for our great exporting businesses than playing political games with our membership of the EU.’
Attacking Cameron over his pledge of a EU referendum, Miliband said: ‘It threatens to shut UK businesses out of a market that gives them access to the world’s largest trading bloc. . . If you care about prosperity, then Britain must be a committed member of a reformed European Union. Not threatening to leave.
‘The job of the next Prime Minister is to open new markets for business not close them off.’
He concluded that Britain needs ‘a Labour plan, a better plan, that says it is only when working people succeed that Britain succeeds. . . A partnership for a purpose between government and business. . .
‘Creating higher living standards for working families, inspiring hope for young people. These are our goals. Let’s build a better country together.’
Socialism did not get a look in!