Launch of Labour Business

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Speaking at the launch of Labour Business Stephen Kinnock said,

Thank you everyone. 

I would just like to start by thanking the Labour Business/LFIG executive. 

I want to thank, in particular, Hamish who has done a brilliant job since becoming Chair this summer and I look forward to continuing to work with you in the coming years. 

And I am sure we would all like to pay tribute to the work of David Offenbach who has done so much to put LFIG/Labour Business on the map over the past 4 years as Chair. 

And I would like to thank all of you here for coming. 

It is great to see so many colleagues here. I think that speaks to the commitment of our party to supporting business, job creation and innovation. 

And it is important to state that we are the party of business. 

That we are pro-business, but not business as usual. 

And I think if we look back at our manifesto we see that even clearer: a commitment to cutting business rates, a British Investment Bank, the creation of a Small Business Administration, and resolutely pro-European.

But in spite of that strong pro-business, pro-reform offer we were seen by much of the public and business community as being anti-business.

And I think that goes some way to showing that it wasn’t so much our policies that were the problem, but rather, and I am sure many of you will appreciate this, that the “mood music” just wasn’t right, meaning that we did not build the kind of constructive relationships that are at least as important as policy.

That has to change. We have to say it loud and clear: tone and process are just as vital as content and outcomes.
Labour is the party of business.

And our guiding principle must be to see the business community as partners for a new kind of growth.

Friends, the fact that the sort of changes we have seen in our economy over the past half-century have radically changed our country, but successive governments have not always harnessed these changes in the right way.

And as a result the story of the British economy today is one of low productivity, creaking infrastructure, a dangerous over-reliance on financial services, an ever growing chasm between London and the rest of the country and a model of growth dependent upon ballooning personal debt and a growing trade deficit.

That must change.

Labour must be proactive.

The job of progressive politics is not to simply react and adapt to change.

The job of progressive politics is to become the engine for change, and for growth, of a new and different kind.

And this new kind of growth must be about building our resilience so we are prepared for the next shock.

That process will start with a modern manufacturing renaissance.

And with it the development of a comprehensive industrial strategy; with a public and private investment plan to support skills development, access to finance, research and development and improved infrastructure.

And we must build on that by reforming the UK’s corporate culture.

I’ve spent most of my working life in the private sector.

And, with some notable exceptions, I’ve seen too many business models driven by fast buck short-termism.

But what we need is business driven by investment in the keys to sustainability and profit: skills, innovation technology and commercialising this countries research brilliance.

And making these changes will require original thinking.

The sort of Labour original thinking that built the welfare state and the Open University, that built the NHS and revolutionized child care.

That original Labour thinking needs to be applied to the fundamentals of our economy, and in particular to our work with business.
But those great Labour ideas didn’t develop from a vacuum.

They developed because we worked in partnership.

And so partnership must be at the heart of everything we do.

We can only build that partnership if our party works with business to co-create our plan for a new kind of growth.

This plan cannot be written in isolation, from deep inside the Westminster Bubble.

We need a vanguard of business leaders who share our progressive values and are ready to co-create our new narrative, strategy and plan.

And that’s why I am so pleased to be Chairing the new Labour Business Parliamentary group.

We must work and engage with business at a strategic level.

As partners in forging a new kind of growth.

Much of the business community already knows that a sustainable approach to environmental, social and governance obligations aren’t nice yet expendable add-ons. They are integral to a profitable business.

And that will be part of what the Labour Business Parliamentary group will be about.

Speaking up for good business practice, a long term industrial strategy and the reinvention of industrial relations.

In short, speaking up for a new kind of growth.

Working as part of Labour Business, the Parliamentary group will be at the heart of the process of developing Labour policy and business engagement.

Our twin, interdependent goals will be to both fix the mood music and to ensure that we get the policies right.

Labour Business will have us along to meet their executive every quarter.

Providing an opportunity for Labour parliamentarians to talk about how we can support, and in turn be supported by, the business community both inside and out of Parliament.

Helping put Labour on the front foot with the business community.

Helping us reach out and develop a positive business agenda and narrative.

And this will be a two-way-street, enabling those of us in Parliament able to feed in to business about what is happening in Parliament.

And business able to feed in to us.

Helping develop policy, lines of communication and links with the broader business community.

It is only through such a partnership based approach that we will be able to forge a new kind of growth.

So, I hope that we will be able to look back and see today as the start of a journey.

A journey that not only changed the mood music around Labour and business, but a journey that also led us back into government.

I look forward to working with all of you here as we develop this partnership, and embark upon this journey together.

And with that I’d like to welcome Hamish up to say a few words.