Hamish Sandison, the Chair of Labour business gives his view on the current situation - May 2020.

We are living in a time of extraordinary challenges but also of great opportunities.   The challenge is first and foremost to beat Covid-19, and then to prevent a health crisis from becoming an economic catastrophe.   The opportunity is to bury austerity for good, to restore adequate funding for public services and those who work in them, and recalibrate our economic settlement with a green new deal which will take on the climate crisis.   Good businesses must be part of the solution to these challenges;  but there must be no return to a “business as usual” economy which has failed.

Labour Business has a big part to play in helping Labour rise to these challenges and seize these opportunities.   Since Keir Starmer was elected on April 4th, our first priority has been to engage with his new leadership team.   So we’ve helped Keir to formulate his new message that business is part of the solution to the multiple crises we face;  we’ve worked directly with Anneliese Dodds and Ed Miliband as they start to engage with the business community, co-hosting a webinar with them on April 25th which was co-sponsored by QuickBooks and the FSB; and we’ve reached out to our members with a webinar on April 30th with Lucy Powell MP, the new Shadow Business Minister, on the impact of Coronavirus on small businesses.   If you missed that, the recording is up on our website here.

But above and beyond everything else, our focus in the early days of the Coronavirus lockdown has been to scrutinise the shortcomings in the policy and delivery of the government’s financial support package, and to recommend ways to fix it.   This has included our first Coronavirus survey, which the Shadow Chancellor shared with the Chancellor (there is another to follow in a few days);  the case histories in our last newsletter, which we have shared with Keir, Anneliese, Ed and other Front Benchers as ammunition in their efforts to hold the government to its promises; and 2 submissions to the Business Select Committee’s investigation into The Impact of Coronavirus on Businesses and Workers  (see our first submission here ).

Looking ahead, it’s clear that Labour Business – and businesses more generally – will need to find new ways of working.   That’s why we’ve started a strategic review of all our operations, and one early output from that is the launch of “Labour Business TV”- using the latest video conferencing technology to share interviews with leading politicians and business leaders, policy group meetings and webinars for a wider audience.   You will find our first interviews here .  Do take a look:   they are short, insightful, and thought-provoking.   There will be many more to follow.

If you’d like to get more involved in Labour Business at a time when our input has never been more important, please look out for my next message about the revamp of our Policy Groups.   These are the main channel for our members to get involved.

Thank you as ever for your interest and support.   Comments and suggestions are welcome at contact@labourbusiness.org.

All my best, and stay safe.



Chair, Labour Business.

View from the Chair – May 2020
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