In every community in the country there are businesses championing an approach based on protecting people and planet as well as making a profit. To build the just society we need, Labour needs to connect to businesses across our country and the people who work in them. CLPs can play a vital role in building the coalition we need. That’s why we are asking every CLP to appoint a Business Liaison Officer.”

Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Jun 2021

“In order to win elections, I’ve always believed that Labour needs to engage with the local business community, demonstrating that we speak for responsible businesses as well as for workers and their trade unions.The role of BuLOs, working in partnership with TULOs, is to champion Labour’s engagement with local businesses at the grass roots level - including SMEs, social enterprises, micro-businesses, freelancers and the self-employed.

That’s why I want every CLP that hasn’t already done so to appoint its own BuLO.”

David Evans, General Secretary of the Labour Party, Jul 2021

The BuLO Campaign

Labour Business, the Party’s affiliated business membership group, launched the BuLO initiative in 2017 shortly after the General Election with strong support from Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Rebecca Long-Bailey. We invited every CLP to appoint a BuLO to champion Labour’s engagement with local businesses up and down the country. Many CLPs have already appointed BuLOs – from Cornwall to Edinburgh, from Newbury to Darlington, and many places in between.

BuLOs must be members of their CLP, but they have no additional voting rights on the EC or GC. No rule change is required to appoint them; they are appointed by a simple resolution of their CLP. The resolution can be considered at an ordinary AMM or GC meeting, or at an AGM, along with the other functional officer appointments.

A BuLO must also be a member of Labour Business, but is entitled to free membership, so there is no cost to being a BuLO. In return, we provide support on business engagement and policy development work. The BuLO is in addition to the TULO. The idea is that they will work together in partnership. The BuLO and the TULO are 2 sides of the same coin.

Our target this year – with equally strong support from Keir Starmer and his leadership team – is for a BuLO to be appointed in every foundation seat in the country, and in 50% of all other seats, including those with a sitting Labour MP and those without. Hopefully we’ll exceed that target.

Next steps in appointing a BuLO

If you’d like to consider appointing a BuLO in your CLP, or just get more involved in the work of Labour Business locally or nationally, please email contact@labourbusiness.org.

Labour Business (formerly “LFIG”, the Labour Finance & Industry Group) is the business membership group affiliated to the Labour Party. We are one of the 21 socialist societies affiliated to the Party. Our members are Labour Party members in businesses – small, medium and large, in all sectors, up and down the UK.

Labour Business was founded by Harold Wilson in 1972 to enable the Labour Party to have a conversation with the business community - on the basis that, if we don’t listen to business, we can’t expect business to listen to us. Without that conversation, Labour can’t road test our business policies to make sure they are deliverable, can’t establish our economic credibility, and can’t win elections.

Our key mission is to bust the myth that the Tories are “the party of business”, and to re-position Labour as the natural party of businesses as well as the natural party of workers and their trade unions.

We do this through business engagement, policy development, and media campaigning at a national level. It’s our BuLOs, in partnership with TULOs, that carry on this work at the local level, working closely with the Party’s Business Relations Unit at Head Office, and with the Party’s existing business networks in the Regions and Nations of Great Britain.

Have you ever wondered how the Tories get away with their false claim to be “the party of business”? The truth is, every CLP in Britain has members who own or run small businesses, work within medium-sized and large-scale businesses, and hold senior positions in the wider business community. Labour Councillors and Mayors set business policies for their constituents. The reality
is that we have as many members who are active in business as the Tory Party, and probably more.

Furthermore, the pandemic has illustrated that it’s Labour that has the better policies for businesses and workers adversely affected by lockdown measures. It was Labour, with the trade unions, that forced the Tory Government to introduce the furlough scheme, and then to extend it when further lockdowns were introduced. It is a Tory government that has failed to provide any support for 3 million self-employed workers. Many business leaders recognise this, though they are shy of saying so publicly.

That’s why we need a national campaign to reach out to the business community and drive home Keir Starmer’s message in his recent speech to the CBI that Labour in Government will restore the partnership of Government, businesses, workers and their trade unions to build back better from the pandemic. And that’s why every CLP needs a BuLO, working in partnership with its TULO, to drive that message home locally.

It’s up to each CLP to decide what it wants its BuLO to do. Among other things, the role might include:

  • Identifying members of your CLP who are in business themselves – small, medium or large, in all sectors
  • Making an inventory of key local businesses and reaching out to show that Labour wants to hear from them
  • Organising a business roundtable or other forum to find out what local businesses want from Labour when we’re in government; listening to businesses in shops and markets on the High Street
  • Holding a joint meeting of local businesses and trade unions to discuss the value of partnership
  • Providing speakers to local business groups
  • Conducting surveys of local businesses to ascertain their views on a particular issue
  • Carrying out equalities impact assessments of business support grants
  • Organising petitions to secure business support for Labour campaigns
  • Inviting local business leaders to meet local Labour representatives – Councillors, MPs, Metro Mayors
  • Inputting to local and regional Labour policy forums on business issues
  • Becoming active in national policy development by joining Labour Business. Every BuLO is entitled to free membership of Labour Business.

Labour Business is ready to help. We can provide:

  • A model resolution for your CLP to appoint its own BuLO, including a suggested job description
  • A package of business engagement materials to help CLPs organise their own business roundtables and forums
  • Speakers for CLP meetings – from the business community, from the Party, from local and regional government and from Parliament
  • Local business contacts
  • Contacts with other Labour Business members in the area
  • Help to set up a regional branch of Labour Business.

Affiliation: As a socialist society, we have an active programme of affiliating to CLPs up and down the country in order to strengthen our links with local members. Many CLPs are keen for us to affiliate as a first step on the road to a BuLO appointment, and we are very happy to do so. Equally, affiliation by Labour Business is not a precondition of appointing a BuLO.

Parliamentary support: While we expect the focus of this year’s campaign will be on foundation seats without a Labour MP, we want to ensure that the Parliamentary Labour Party is actively involved. Our Parliamentary Vice Presidents – Stephen Kinnock MP, Bill Esterson MP and Seema Malhotra MP – will be helping to drive the BuLO campaign forward with their colleagues in those seats that already have a Labour MP.

Regional dimension: We are very keen to ensure that BuLOs play their part in supporting the Party’s existing business networks in all Regions and Nations. We also want to ensure that there is a streamlined communications structure within each Region and Nation so that the Party’s designated business officer can deal with a single point of contact. BuLOs will be tasked with making it as easy as possible for every Region and Nation to reap the full benefits of local business engagement.

Diversity: Labour Business is totally committed to promoting the maximum possible involvement of under-represented groups in the business community. For example, our Women in Business Policy Group is actively engaged in promoting the role of women in business. That objective of maximum diversity applies equally to the appointment of BuLOs. Although it is a matter for each CLP to appoint its own BuLO, we will work with CLPs to ensure that – across the Party as a whole – the BuLOs appointed are as representative as possible of those communities that are under-represented in the world of business.

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