When I put it to one left-leaning businessman yesterday the notion that the former postman Alan Johnson might stand against Ed Miliband as Labour leader, he responded: “That would be lovely.” Some of Labour’s business supporters are running out of patience with Miliband. They feel the party’s pro-European stance is pretty popular with business, but they struggle to think of too much else that Miliband has committed to that is pro-business.
Miliband is hostile to the way the banks operate and wants to see more competition in the market-place; he’s hostile to the energy companies and his party has recently threatened a tax on the houses in which many business leaders and their managers live.
It’s true that in Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, Labour has somebody who speaks passionately about the importance of financial services and the City of London, though many say he is compromised by his association with Gordon Brown. In recent times Balls has committed the party to maintaining a tough fiscal stance. Chuka Ummana, the party’s shadow business secretary, has also toiled away tirelessly within the small business community. But the party leader is less business friendly by nature, and appears more suspicious of businesses and their motives. During a speech in early summer, he did talk about cutting business rates, creating a business investment bank, a higher wage economy and keeping corporation taxes at competitive levels.
But if he wants to gain some credibility with the business community – and that’s not a given – the Labour leader needs to be more vocal about supporting business. Otherwise left-leaning business supporters will forever be yearning for another leader.
City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.