It was an oration full of vague phrases and void of specifics, but the sentiment was clear. He is suspicious of big business, private equity and the profit motive, and will choose companies to favour and others to extort.
It was packed with emotional weasel-words like “predators” and “asset strippers.” A reminder of what the Miliband family have always thought of the wealth creators.
If any rational listeners in the private sector were wondering who calls the shots within the Labour party then now they know: the union paymasters.
The entire delivery was designed to appease his militant bosses. As ever, it was a list of wishful thinking, and entirely free from any practical proposals based on facts or experience. Miliband talked of productivity and supporting some British companies, but had no suggestions for how he would motivate entrepreneurs and encourage investment.
Investors in Britain should take note: Labour plans to meddle much more in business, taxing and regulating very heavily companies it doesn’t like. Woe betide any risk takers and funders who thought the UK was a level playing field; if Labour take office, then capricious and punitive legislation appears to be the order of the day. In fact, the speech was a useful reminder of just how profoundly confused and incompetent the opposition are when it comes to economic affairs.
Miliband has the brass cheek to suggest the nation turns to Ed Balls, his shadow chancellor, for advice in our hour of need. This is the same Balls who was a key confidant to Gordon Brown, the politician who endowed the coalition with the most catastrophic economic inheritance in British history.
It was the same Balls and Brown who saw Britain’s public spending rise vertiginously to comprise more than half of GDP; who bloated the state payroll with non-jobs as a form of gerrymandering; who pushed up income tax to 50 per cent as a form of envy politics; and who ennobled their close chum Sir Fred Goodwin – the chief executive who almost single-handedly bankrupted the British banking system.
This was the government that included Liam Byrne, the treasury secretary who left a note for his successor saying: “There’s no money left... Good luck!” Byrne thought it very funny that Labour had spent so profligately in the good times that there was no surplus for the recession they helped create. How grotesque that our taxes were in the hands of such reckless, economically illiterate maniacs.
If the electorate allow Miliband and his gang of ugly socialists back into power, then we can consign Britain to a future of no growth, permanent deficits, a collapsing currency, eye-watering taxes and a massive brain drain. In a ferociously competitive world, we cannot allow the party chiefly responsible for the current economic mess to take control once more. One more dose of their toxic medicine and it would be time to man the lifeboats.
Luke Johnson’s new book Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business is Easier Than You Think is published by Portfolio Penguin.