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Corbyn sets out economic vision in speech to British businesses

CorbynJeremy Corbyn set out his economic vision to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) yesterday, in a speech that focused on using the state to encourage and promote entrepreneurship.

Arguing that Labour had “plenty of common ground with the CBI”, he said the party was “open to change”:

Labour will be on the side of the innovators, entrepreneurs and investors that our economy and our workforce need. We will use public intervention to unleash the creativity and potential of entrepreneurial Britain.

Labour is open. We’re open to change. Open to new ideas. And open to working with you. In return, we ask you to be open, to listening to the workforce, in the boardroom as well as the shopfloor.

Corbyn also set out concrete policies of banning zero hours contracts and raising the minimum wage to £10 per hour.

The Labour leadership and the CBI have enjoyed warmer relations recently, with the lobby’s Deputy Director General welcoming aspects of Corbyn’s conference speech, almost anticipating Corbyn’s theme of a common agenda yesterday, stating, “Labour can be reassured that they do have a significant joint agenda with businesses of all sizes”. Whether this relationship can survive the fine policymaking detail remains to be seen.

One area where Labour and the CBI might clearly share a joint agenda is that on Brexit, where the CBI has been firmly opposed to a ‘Hard Brexit’ that would see the UK leave the single market. Over 90 Labour MPs including Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer have written a letter setting out their opposition. It reads:

Falling back on World Trade Organisation rules would not be a clean break but the most destructive, harshest of settlements, which would lead to fewer jobs, less business investment and would leave the British people poorer. This is not what they voted for in June.

Theresa May’s own speech yesterday saw a U-turn on her commitment for workers’ representatives to sit on boards. In July, she had promised: “If I’m prime minister, we’re going to change that system – and we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well…”. Yesterday that commitment was dropped as she conceded companies would not be “forced” to do so.

Also in the same speech May suggested that corporation tax could be cut even further. Corporation tax was at 30% in 2007, and is now at 20%. Shortly after the EU referendum, then-Chancellor George Osborne suggested that it could be lowered to 15% – something May has now indicated she could allow.


  1. John Penney says:

    Unfortunately, staying in the EU Single Market as the neoliberal Labour Right are well aware, would mean the UK hadn’t actually left the EU at all. In fact we would be entirely subject to the neoliberaism enforcement regime of thd EU , but with no influence on it. The worst of all worlds for any chance of pursuing a radical Left economic agenda by a future Labour Government, but fine for the Labour Right and their Big Business backers.

    Though not so fine when the inevitable result of Labour pursuing this slippery agenda would be the collapse of Labour electorally in Wales, and the Midlands and North East of England – and a huge opportunity for a party of the ,nominally “anti globalist capitalism” radical populist Right.

    Corbyn’s “economic vision” still looks to me like a handful of “feel good” soundbites, rather than the required comprehensive economic STRATEGY. No wonder the CBI are getting increasingly relaxed about “Corbynism”.

    1. Peter Rowlands says:

      We have been here before, but despite his generally insightful views on other matters John is quite wrong on this.There is no chance of Labour adopting a ‘hard brexit’ policy, it would split the party, and more would leave than would be regained from the old industrial areas and UKIP. There would be less chance of a Labour government than now, and a nasty right wing government would rule, propped up by xenophobia, racism and imperial/wartime nostalgia.The only solution, as I argued in my recent article,is to go for something like the Norway solution which keeps us in the single market, which would prevent the economic disaster of a hard brexit,although we should not go for a second referendum as this could be electorally damaging.As I understand it, and it is not completely clear, this is Labour’s line and it’s right.

  2. Tony says:

    A year or two after the 1997 general election, I remember getting a Labour Party leaflet through my door that boasted about a recent cut in corporation tax.

    Gordon Brown’s repeated cuts in this tax were truly sickening and shows how he paved the way for the Conservatives to cut it even further.

    1. John Penney says:

      Indeed Tony, and due to the mile-wide tax loopholes deliberately created by successive Labour and Tory governments for the big corporations and rich to exploit, no matter what the nominal tax rate, few of the buggers will be paying it anyway !

  3. Bazza says:

    Yes and within a framework of a left wing democratic socialist society (before another stage is possible) we need dynamic business led by state-led public investment (which feeds the small busines private sector supply chain) and with more democratic public ownership which gives staff and communities a say, and a society which REALLY taxes the rich and corporations!
    Dynamism and entrepreneurialism in its fullest meaning and not the narrow, right wing interpretation of profit maximising at all costs and I love a quote from Dicken’s ‘Christmas Carol’, (updated), “Business! Business! Human Kind is your business!”
    And dynamic business would draw on research, evidence, feedback, and most fundamentally critical thinking as well as giving workers a say, paying and treating them well, and allowing trade unions.
    But just been to local Momentum AGM and not happy – the left are so disorganised – started 25 minutes late, and I only go because of the great socialist Labour Party members and have decided Momentum should be for Labour Party Momentum members only.
    But we had a middle class liberal Green lecturing us and telling Labour Councillors they should set a deficit budget (but of course would not put her own livelihood and house on the line?) then boring AWL Labour commenter again lecturing us (but I wonder if the tiny number of bourgeois socialist AWL (are probably 20 of them in the UK) have really given up the Revolutionary Communist Party? (real name -see website) with its top down ready made programme and international network – well a few in Australia – probably 200 members in the world or are they still secretly meeting so they can lead us poor, unaware working class people to the promised land – socialism FOR and not socialism WITH (grassroots, bottom up led left wing democratic socialism) so this working class left wing democratic socialist tonight says
    Momentum must be Labour Momentum.
    Anyway back to the real task.
    Labour needs: Step 1 – grassroots, bottom up Policy Development. Then Step 2 – Policy Outreach & Community Engagement – where Labour CLPs, and affiliates put out rigorous policy ideas to open public conferences held in local communities up to the General Election on Housing, The Economy, Education etc.
    Could be really exciting!
    But at these some working people may not be confident enough to speak in a large public meeting so we should break into small workshops (with flip charts) so we give everyone a chance to contribute.
    Yours as a left wing democratic working class international socialist in solidarity!
    If our model works it could transform the World!

    1. John Penney says:

      Unfortunately the Labour Right have just secured ALL the positions on Labour’s National Policy Forum, so we can forget ANY of Jeremy’s wish list Left policy ideas featuring in a Labour Manifesto for a while ! A Labour Manifesto in line with the neoliberal policies of the pre Corbyn Party will be a realy motivating “offer” for Momentum members to canvas for at the next General Election ! And electoral suicide of course.

      And the NEC has just decided to ignore the Momentum campaign to boost the CLP delegates in its ranks !

      In other words, so far, the Labour Party is still the prisoner of the neoliberal majority on the CLP, and the Party machine, and the extra 500,000 members haven’t actually shifted it from its disastrous political path to PASOK-style oblivion at all.

      1. John Penney says:

        Oops, I meant “the neoliberal majority in the PLP……”

  4. Bazza says:

    John you seem to be a pessimist whilst I of course am an optimist!
    It is conference that makes policy and perhaps JC can always ignore the LPF – Blair etc. always did – it was always only a fig leaf anyway for the Neo-Liberals.
    But yes the Left needs to get organised on resolutions to conference, delegates, the NPF (but replace this with national working parties of academics and service users by topic), NEC places, plus the Conference Arrangements Committee.
    I suggested at Momentum meetings that Left Labour members read the Labour Party Rules 2016 (soon to be updated) and to bookmark these and become experts on them plus take them to meetings (just Google ‘Labour Party Rules 2016’ see Wikipedia and scroll down).
    As our forefathers and mothers used to say: “Knowledge is power!”

  5. Bazza says:

    And we could take any of the safe and bland policy ideas if anything ever comes out of the NPF and with the community amend them in a left direction and add to them from below and pass the reports up!
    There are more ways to skin a cat!

  6. John Penney says:

    Optimism is good, Bazza. But so far, since the surprise of the 2015 Corbyn leadership win and 500,000 new members the deeply dug in neoliberal Right have completely blocked any real policy shift away from what was essentially in place under Blair and Brown. And via hugely superior organisation the Right secured a MAJORITY of their delegates at the recent Conference – whilst Momentum played at cultural revolution down the road from Conference.

    A snap election would see Labour with a Manifesto little different to Miliband’s , which would mean a likely Labour collapse in key Labour heartlands. A year has been wasted through the failure to turn Momentum into a real mass movement to take on the Labour Right and convert the Party into a genuine Left party. That lost year is a disaster for the Left. Your boundless optimism is therefore super for you, Bazza, but misplaced.

  7. Bazza says:

    “Rise up with me against the organisation of misery” – Pablo Neruda.
    By the way we now have a Tory Party under Mediocre May that feels it has to PRETEND to be for working people and making minor concession after minor concession, they haven’t a clue about the economy as the deficit grows to £128b and they now say it will be addressed in the next Parliament, food prices are to rise as is inflation, they are in a mess over the NHS, Housing and Brexit but of course they follow the ‘Rawanda Strategy’ (although not as extreme) but still the same principle of setting citizens against citizens (neighbour against neighbour) over welfare for their own political gain.
    A very good Labour Councillor at a Momentum meeting (who supports Corbyn) said it was hard opposing welfare cuts on the doorstep in his working class area.
    I said the above but added it is classic Tory divide and rule but also as people attack those who may live among them in their lives they are distracted from Tory Tax Cuts for: millionaires, hedge funds (£145m and hedge funds gave £50m to the Tories), private landlords with multiple properties, corporations and even more tax relief for bloody grouse moor owners (who often drain the land to make more profit while passing on flood water to the towns and villages below) and perhaps all of these are distant from most people’s lives.
    So we should explain to working people what the Tories are doing and go on the attack!
    The real global scroungers are the rich who according to New Internationalist stash trillions in ilicit offshore banks – and the good societies could do with this if the rich paid their full share!
    So go on the attack and yes Left get bloody organised!

  8. Paul Dias says:

    Pearls to pigs, JC.

  9. Bazza says:

    “The principle of hope is an indestructible, indispensable aspect of human existence” -Eric Hobsbawm (NLR, p47, Sept/Oct 2016).
    Bloch: “Man (sic) lives because he (sic) has faith in a better future.” (Ibid).

  10. David Pavett says:

    Labour’s plight, even under a left leadership, is well illustrated by this article. The headline tells us that “Corbyn sets out economic vision in speech to British businesses”. But what can in this report actually outlines an “economic vision”? What we are told is that:

    (1) Labour has plenty of common ground with the CBI;

    (2) Labour is “on the side of the innovators, entrepreneurs and investors”;

    (3) Labour, like the CBI, is opposed to “hard brexit”;

    (4) Labour is against “Falling back on World Trade Organisation rules” (no explanation of what this means is offered).

    That’s it. Just in what way is that an “economic vision”? I am at a loss to know what the author of this piece might have had in mind.

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