Pro-business Labour candidates? Blairite Liz Kendall may be Labour's best bet at winning back business confidence

Ashley Kirk
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Labour MPs Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, Tristram Hunt and Liz Kendall address delegates at the Progress annual conference (Photo: AFP/ Getty Images)

With candidates lining up to take over Ed Miliband as the new Labour leader, divisions in the party are appearing as it digests the General Election.

In the postmortem of Labour’s election defeat, many are arguing that it was the party's lack of an aspirational message and its perceived anti-business stance that put off voters.

So who is the most pro-business candidate this time round? We had a look at Miliband’s potential successors to find out.

Andy Burnham

Burnham is currently the favourite candidate for the leadership, and is now backed by Dan Jarvis - who disappointed many when he announced he was not going to run.

He is the unions' favourite, with Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey saying that Burnham “impresses him the most” in the leadership race.

The MP for Leigh, however, has attempted to distance himself from this billing. He has said:

We need to establish economic competence. We need a fiscally responsible approach but an approach that's also pro-business. We've got to rebuild our relationship with the business community.

Business credentials: MP since 2010. Chief Secretary of the Treasury 2007-2008.

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham meets Labour supporters at an NHS rally in Leeds (Source: Getty)

Yvette Cooper

When Cooper announced her intentions to stand as leader in The Mirror, she offered a message that echoed much of the election campaign.

While arguing that Labour’s promise of hope was not strong enough, she said:

Under the Tories, far too many people’s pay has fallen, living standards have been squeezed and they have been left behind.

People want to know where the good quality jobs of the future are coming from - whether they have a chance at them, and whether they will be in their own town or just miles away in the city.

In the end, Labour didn’t convince enough people that we had the answers.

While the word “business” did not appear in her announcement, she has since said that she wanted to consign the party's anti-business image to the scrapheap.

Business credentials: MP since 1997. Economic policy researcher for Shadow Chancellor John Smith, 1990. Chief economic correspondent of The Independent, 1995-97.

Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper at the launch of Labour's women's manifesto in Glasgow (Source: Getty)

Liz Kendall

Kendall was the first person to formally announce that she is running for the Labour leadership. Now the favourite Blairite candidate, those in the party may back her as the person to win back Tory support.

In her critique of the 2015 campaign, she said:

We didn’t get people’s trust on the economy, we didn’t build a broad enough coalition of voters in different parts of the country and we didn’t set out a positive enough alternative for the future.

It’s not enough to just critique what’s going [on] under this government, but actually you’ve got to set out something people can believe in that’s going to give them hope and confidence in the future.

She is backed by fellow Blairite Tristram Hunt, who said: “I think Liz appreciates the nature of the crisis, I think she speaks effectively to large parts of the country, I think she marries a determination about economic efficiency and social justice.”

Business credentials: MP since 2010. Previous director of the Ambulance Services Network.

Liz Kendall
Liz Kendall speaking at the launch of NHS week in April (Source: Getty)

Mary Creagh

When announcing her bid in The Daily Mail, Creagh offered a message of aspiration in an attempt to win back business. She claimed Labour's defeat was to be blamed on a failure to offer hope, the party's unconvincing economic credibility and an obsession with the NHS.

She wrote:

On election morning I received an email from a small business owner in Hove. 'If your lot do win today, please don't annihilate the private sector and economy.'

I was horrified, but I got a premonition of what was about to happen. It was his voice, the voice of middle England, that spoke on May 7 and delivered our thumping defeat.

I want to earn back the trust that Middle England has lost in the Labour Party.We forgot the hard-learned lessons of our last three election victories; that to win elections a party needs to offer hope.

Business credentials: MP since 2005. Previously taught entrepreneurship at the Cranfield University School of Management.

Mary Creagh
Mary Creagh speaks to delegates on the third day of Labour's 2014 party conference (Source: Getty)

The most pro-business candidate

While each candidate has mentioned the need for the party to re-engage business, Liz Kendall's Blairite stance seems to be Labour's best bet of gaining the trust of British business.

In an interview with the Guardian, she said the party should embrace business - as well as support an in/out referendum on Europe and stop supporting high taxation "just to make a point".

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