Nomination of Candidate for Leader and Deputy Leader by Labour Business

As you will be aware, Labour Business is one of the 21 socialist societies affiliated to the Labour Party which has a right under the new leadership election rules to nominate a candidate for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

To take advantage of this opportunity, our Executive Committee (EC) has decided to ballot you, our members, and we will nominate in accordance with your decision.

If you're a member, you will have received - or will soon receive a ballot.

Here are the candidates' statements:

Candidates for Leader

Like Labour Business members, I firmly believe that the Labour Party is the true party of business. I know that the vast majority of businesses play by the rules; they pay their taxes, they pay their employees a fair wage, they pay their suppliers on time, they treat customers fairly and they operate with respect for the environment and local communities. As the next Labour leader, I will make it my mission to make the positive case for business, highlighting examples of good corporate behaviour and championing policies to support them to flourish and nurture economic growth.

In the ten years since the financial crash the Conservatives have failed to deliver for the majority of UK businesses. They have vilified industry leaders for warning against a cliff-edge break with the European Union, and they have failed to act on some of the biggest issues businesses face: old and inadequate infrastructure both physical and digital, skills shortages, disparate access to finance, an outdated business rates system and chronic late payments.

These issues affect all businesses but often small businesses are disproportionately impacted. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, accounting for 99.3% of all private sector businesses, providing 60% of all private sector employment and contributing 51% of all private sector turnover in the UK. I understand that SMEs face unique challenges and as Labour leader I will continue to champion their role in our economy.

I have a proven track record of doing so. In 2017 I was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Since then I have visited and met with a cross-section of industry in all corners of the UK, from tech start-ups and family businesses through to global manufacturers. Through these relationships and a strong link with Labour Business, I understand that responsible businesses succeed when they are supported to thrive, and that should be the goal of any future Labour government.

That is why I have spent the last three years developing Labour’s industrial and economic policy, from our plans for a Green Industrial Revolution to support business to meet the challenge of climate change to our 20 Pledges to Business, launched at the last general election, which included the establishment of a National Investment Bank and a new Business Development Agency.

As Shadow Business Secretary, I have been committed to creating an economy that works for business, industry, working people and our environment. I am uniquely placed to continue this mission as Labour leader. I firmly believe that by setting out a positive vision for our economy and highlighting the positive impact of businesses doing the right thing, we can win the support of the business community and we can forge our path to power.

There is an unbelievable amount of talent in the U.K. but nobody could say we have the structural or political support that maximises it.

In a new post-Brexit economy, the structural weaknesses that have held the U.K. back will need to be urgently addressed. Poor infrastructure, including digital infrastructure; a low-skills base; low-wages; a lack of investment in R&D; long-term declining productivity and chronic uncertainty related to Brexit has checked the U.K's potential.

We need a new settlement between government, business and citizens to create inclusive growth. The starting point for this has to be a comprehensive post-Brexit industrial & skills strategy which puts skills and R&D at its heart and makes absolutely clear that we retain our commitment to regulatory alignment with the EU.

Half of engineering firms say that skills shortages are a threat to their business. Politicians have ignored this for much too long; the skills shortage has cut young people in towns like mine out of growth altogether, and the lack of public and private investment has held our communities back. That's why we need to see a serious skills strategy including higher-quality apprenticeships and co-ordinated training to harness new technology so it benefits workers.

We also need a clear commitment to an industrial strategy alongside a business-focused procurement strategy as I have laid out this week:

Inclusive growth also means reform to shareholder duties. A big part of the puzzle of increasing private sector investment in skills and development is about reforming a short-termist corporate culture so that major companies maximise “stakeholder” rather than just shareholder value. Not only does this improve business but it is essential to tackling the climate emergency.

Nor can we create inclusive growth without a focus on the towns and former industrial communities left behind for far too long.

How do we change that? There is cause for optimism. We’ve seen in Preston how anchor institutions can leverage their purchasing power to support local small businesses, creating a flow of investment and spending which benefits the whole community.

As Labour leader, this is the kind of devolution of power I would promote. It is this kind of ingenuity which demonstrates the difference Labour makes: councils working in partnership with local businesses to support workers, boost trade and feed the proceeds back into local economies.

Part of the revival in those small towns that we need to see has to also be about boosting the small-businesses which our high-street depend on. My retail strategy which would create a level playing-field between high street businesses and giant online firms.

Amazon pays just 0.7% of its turnover in business rates, a drop in the ocean compared to what high street shops have to pay. That simple injustice is ripping the heart out of our towns.

Business rates should also more closely match the local economic reality. A fair rating system should reflect the widest possible set of economic factors including average local income.

My leadership will be about creating inclusive growth, spread across the nations and regions. Let's build it together.

Labour’s socialist societies will play a key role in the election of Labour’s leader.

I am asking Labour Business for their support as I believe an open and productive dialogue with business is essential to ensure we have a future-looking agenda that is underpinned by both economic justice and economic credibility.

During my time as Shadow Brexit Secretary, I addressed Labour Business events on several occasions and heard how important it is that we fight to keep high workplace rights and market standards, and provide reassurance for businesses and workers after Brexit. It is essential that Labour Business is able to work closely with the shadow frontbench like this, and I will make sure that continues if I am leader. But I also want to emphasise how valuable those events were for me. There is no substitute for hearing feedback on policy directly from the business community.

Labour Business makes a fundamental contribution drawing together diverse elements within the business community – from individuals working for big companies who know you can be pro-business and pro-worker, to entrepreneurs in microbusinesses and SMEs who believe that business does best when government is an active, supportive partner. Creating the Business Liaison Officer role within CLPs is a fine example of how we can interact with businesses throughout every region of the UK – one I will promote if elected leader.

I also want to progress the agenda on corporate governance reform, women in business, tax avoidance by multinational corporations and environmental impact. Many responsible businesses genuinely operate in the interest of society and the environment, but are undercut by other less scrupulous firms – that must change.

My vision of a transformed economy can only be delivered if we take businesses with us, alongside workers, and trade unions. Together we can grow the economy and raise the tax revenues our public services desperately need. We can also give workers a bigger stake, by promoting profit sharing, cooperatives, social enterprises and worker representation on boards. We can better support the diverse workforce who are self-employed, who have so much to contribute but who need support in order to thrive. We can make investment available throughout the country, via responsive regional investment banks. And we can win the case for high skilled, high paid work and a proper living wage.

Our public investment programme is desperately needed after ten years of austerity, but it’s also needed to face up to the climate crisis. The argument that something can be good for the economy but bad for the environment must end. If it’s bad for the environment, then it is bad for the economy. If elected leader, I would value input from Labour Business on how we can make the most of the opportunities and challenges from the green transition.

Another economy is possible – but only if the Labour Party can unite to deliver it, working with Labour Business.

Thank you for your continued support, and at this troubling time for business – with retail sales and growth slowing down, and the cloud of Brexit hanging over us – thank you for taking the time to discuss the future leadership of our party.

As a Shadow Cabinet minister, my responsibilities have covered Defence, Brexit and Foreign Affairs, including the entire two years Boris Johnson was Foreign Secretary, but I’ve always taken time out to meet with business groups, because I believe you cannot do any job in politics without seeing the interaction with economics.

That has driven my approach to Brexit, which – from the morning after the referendum result – was bound in the principle that if we were going to leave the EU, we should do so in a way that did the least damage to jobs and business. And if we instead had a deal like Theresa May’s or Boris Johnson’s which put those priorities at risk, it should go back to the British people for a final say.

That argument has now been lost. But we cannot kid ourselves. Boris Johnson has no idea how he will deliver an EU trade deal by the end of 2020, and we may again face the prospect of a cliff-edge, No-Deal Brexit. We need Labour to fight against that on behalf of British business, and we need a battle-hardened, experienced campaigner to lead that fight, which is what I am.

But Brexit is not my only priority when it comes to business.

We also need a long-term and properly-financed strategy to revive our high streets, especially in the towns and smaller cities where they are becoming so badly hollowed-out, while at the same time creating a more level playing field for small business compared to online retailers paying fewer bills and taxes.

More than anything, we also need a Labour Party that wants to work with business to fix the problems we see in our society, not a party that defines itself through its opposition to business, or treats our wealth and job creators as some kind of enemies.

So in all my meetings with business groups in recent years, I’ve had one simple message: this is the issue we’re trying to solve; this is the proposal we’ve made; if that doesn’t make sense, tell us why, but also tell us what you suggest instead. That kind of constructive dialogue with business is going to be essential, especially if we are in a post-Brexit recovery period.

Yes, we must remain radical when it comes to our plans to transform our economy, our housing market, and the way our key utilities and public services are delivered. But we must also commit to work with business to achieve our goals, to be the party of credibility on public finances, and always do what is best for jobs and growth in our communities.

That is the kind of pragmatic, business-friendly politics I believe in.

Candidates for Deputy Leader

Growing up on the breadline, as a mixed race child, with a single mum, under Margaret Thatcher’s Government of the 80s, meant that the odds were stacked against my brother and I.

Constantly told that there was a ceiling on what I could achieve, when I failed my exams, my dreams of serving my community looked to be over.

A Labour Government transformed my life and enabled me to go to medical school and become an A&E doctor, where I still do front-line shifts. I am determined that no person should have a limit placed on them by this Conservative Government. As an MP, I’ve taken my passion for Labour values across the world in humanitarian crises, working with the most vulnerable. Only when we give a voice to the voiceless, can we create a more equal society.

Brexit has changed the political and economic landscape of the UK. I was first elected just a week before the Referendum - I have known nothing other than division and false promises in Parliament. I have continued to listen to the views of local residents, regularly canvassing their support ahead of any major votes. I voted against triggering Article 50 and was proud to be the first Labour front-bencher to publicly support a People’s Vote.

I campaigned to Remain because I passionately believed staying in the EU represented the
best future for the country and the internationalist values of the Labour Party. The debate has now moved on after the General Election result - but we need to make sure we hold the Government’s far-right Tory Brexit vision to account. There will now be no alignment with EU business rules, we must stop our cherished workers’ rights, our NHS and environmental standards being up for sale.

In the aftermath of a damaging Brexit, we must create an economic environment where businesses can thrive across our country. The UK is fast becoming the most regionally divided economy in the world. With business, investment and infrastructure projects heavily focused in London and the South East, the economic strength of the North and Midlands is diminishing. We need a long-term economic strategy which addresses this regional disparity. We must protect established businesses in our cities who continue to face uncertainty over Boris Johnson’s reckless handling of Brexit, whilst ensuring that new enterprises can thrive outside of London

As Deputy, I will lead from the grassroots, working hard across the UK. I will listen to members and voters and together evaluate why we lost the last four general elections, then move forwards, starting by winning the elections in May.

I would give our emergency service workers a voice on shaping their future by offering them a reduced rate to join our party - we will fight to save our NHS from the Tory sell-off.

My aim is clear: to take Labour forward together, start rebuilding trust in our communities across the UK ahead of May’s local elections and crucially, win the next General Election.

My family first came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation to build a

better life for themselves as well as to help build a better country.

We owned a small family bakery in London’s East-end, so I know first-hand the

hard graft small business owners endure and the challenges of this competitive

environment. This taught me too that small businesses make an immense

contribution to our communities, employment and our economy and that we in

the Labour Party must do more to support them.

Too often however the Labour Party is portrayed as anti-business and it is vital

that we tackle this perception which has set-in and been reinforced by national

media. This was most on view in the recent General Election when John

McDonnell launched Labour’s broadband policy. This came about after an

intense listening exercise with businesses up and down the country, particularly

rural areas, who told us that their productivity and growth was stifled by poor

access to broadband. We did not succeed in promoting our pro-business

message and we must do better. It is also vital that we work tirelessly to restore

our fiscal credibility and this is the hard work I am committed to as Deputy


As Deputy Leader, my priority is to prepare our party for power and to look like a

government in waiting. For us to do this, it is vital we bring the business

community with us so that we can build an economy that works for all. We must

go further as a party to include businesses in decision making and to ensure

transparency in the policy development process.

We must however be radical, and I fully support our manifesto commitments

aimed at tackling the environment emergency with the creation of 1m new jobs

in the green economy and to provide the fiscal stimulus to reboot British industry.

In Parliament, I have worked to champion diversity in British business and

particularly in the boardroom because we know that companies that are more

diverse are also more successful. As Chair of the APPG for Governance &

Inclusive Leadership, I launched the Maturity Matrix ‘Investing in Ethnicity & Race

in the Workplace’ which is a toolkit for businesses to aid them in taking the

necessary steps to enhance diversity. This was supported by BNP Paribas, the

Armed Forces, Fujitsu and more.

As the Shadow Secretary of State for Women & Equalities, I have also been

proud to outline a positive vision for the future of the modern workplace. We

must ensure an engaged, positive and productive workforce which is why I

announced our flexible working policy. This will mean the automatic presumption

that every job will be deemed flexible unless large businesses can demonstrate

to the contrary.

As Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, I will work tirelessly to prepare us for

power and to return us to government. It is only with a Labour government that

we can transform our economy to help businesses thrive and to enhance the

rights and working conditions for employees.

People like me from the Edinburgh housing estate where I grew up are never told we can succeed in business or end up in Parliament.

But I did both – running my own business, then becoming a Shadow Business Minister.

I know what it takes to beat the odds to win and that’s why I’m running to be deputy leader of the Labour Party.

Never again do I want to feel like I did on December 13, when the General Election result was clear.

Like every Labour member across the country, I was devastated as I watched our party lose for the fourth time in ten years.

As a fighter, I know what it takes to win. But we must change to win.

My background as a Labour MP isn’t a typical one and my experience in business and entrepreneurship has shaped my politics and understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing businesspeople up and down the UK - our job creators.

While at school I worked in a fish and chip shop which provided my first opportunity to venture into entrepreneurialism, when I set up its home delivery business.

This sparked my interest in business and following a string of finance jobs after university I took the plunge and started my own business.

I ran an event at the Edinburgh Festival while balancing jobs as the operations director of a new arts-based internet TV station, and working as the receptionist of a business centre in order to make ends meet.

Later I went on to refurbish and re-open a hotel, a bar and a city centre food and sports bistro in Scotland.

I gained many skills by working in hospitality from pulling pints and cleaning toilets to doing the accounts, and to keep overheads low I even turned my hand to tiling, plumbing, joinery, electrics and decorating. I was also a director of Hearts Football Club after I saved them from liquidation.

Being an employer helped me in my subsequent role as a constituency MP and I believe Labour should always value the contribution the business community makes to our economy. We need a far more positive narrative on business, while exposing the bad businesses and employers.

To win back power we must now be honest and listen to voters and members, so that we understand what we got wrong.

We must stand up for every part of our UK, building on our values of internationalism and solidarity as a pro-UK and pro-European party, particularly now that Brexit threatens businesses across the UK. I’m one of the most pro-EU MPs.

If elected deputy leader, I will launch a Labour Campaign for the Future of Britain, designed to enhance Britain’s place in the world and ensure that jobs and livelihoods are protected, and the UK’s economy can grow. The campaign will focus on fighting for workers and employers in every UK community, Leave or Remain, so that Britain remains competitive on the world stage.

We must never stray from our Labour values while building a broad coalition of support as I have always done.

As a former Shadow Business Minister, I’m the candidate with the real-life business background. I’ll use this valuable experience to represent members and ensure Labour’s policies and our approach to economic policy always values and supports the business community across the UK.

As Shadow Secretary of State for Education I have worked with Labour-supporting businesses on our plans for a National Education Service, including lifelong training, to provide the right skills mix for the country’s employers.

I believe we are right to offer an economy based on investment, in which we lead the way in developing and exporting the technologies of the future, and one in which government actively steps in to ensure the infrastructure and skills needed by employers across the economy are there.

In ten years of Tory economic stagnation we have seen progress for the many sidelined by ideological cuts. Unlocking the ambition available around the country means investing in transport, infrastructure, training and skills, in all the regions of the UK.

I am serious about bringing investment into business in communities like mine, where we have felt neglected for too long. I know all about how so many places can be left-behind and how disconnected Westminster can often be from reality.

I want to listen to businesses up and down the country to ensure that our next manifesto reflects every day concerns in shops, offices, wholesalers, makers and movers across the whole of the UK.

Small and Medium sized Enterprises provide the majority of jobs in this country and millions rely on small businesses, often those grown locally in their own communities. We need to ensure they get paid on time, prepare our High Streets for the challenges of the next century and ensure that public sector procurement benefits responsible, local suppliers.

None of that can happen without a Labour government.

Ensuring we get that Labour government would be my first task as Deputy Leader. I want to ensure we use the skills of Labour supporters in business to help us do so. We can bring together the talent of our movement to innovate and support each other – if a designer in Wigan has 2 hours to spare, I want her to be able to help Worcester CLP to get their leaflet together.

We have an abundance of talent – trainers and educators, social media experts, videographers, speech-writers - many using those skills in their business. Let’s bring it all together in a Labour community that stands together to fight the Tories.

I believe that I would be able to help us reconnect with many who have lost trust in us. I didn’t come from a traditional politician’s background. I was a teenage parent, carer for my own mother, and educated as an adult after dropping out of school. I provided for my son by working as a home help, on insecure contracts and inadequate wages.

My role will be to unite the party, renew our campaigning, take the fight to the Tories relentlessly for five years - and win at the end of it.

All through my life, that’s what I’ve done.

As Deputy Leader I will be a champion for the whole country and for everyone in our Party. That is my promise to you, and I hope you will consider nominating me.

Candidate Statements for Labour Business Nominations
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