That statement alone is misleading. This is not the Labour party as we have known it. This is a party so far out to the left that for the first time in nearly a century the Communist party has decided not to field any candidates against it – to give Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour manifesto the fullest possible support.
If you are in any doubt about Corbyn’s relationship to recent Labour policies, he promised last year to repeal Labour’s own 1999 union legislation in favour of something nearer the France’s union rights. The French unions are world leaders in organising paralysing strikes and the nation is not particularly hailed for its business prowess.
The men behind this include the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell – who, in 2013, described himself as “an unapologetic Marxist”. He’s also a man who was deputy leader to “Red” Ken Livingstone in the 1980s and someone who joined his leader, Corbyn, in praising Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.
Then we have the top policy adviser to Corbyn, Andrew Fisher. Fisher, author of “The failed experiment” and “How to build an economy that works”, recommends giving workers the power to take over their own businesses, banning all sackings and abolishing the City of London.
Small wonder that from this stable comes a draft Labour manifesto complete with the planned Ministry of Labour that leaps straight from the pages of Orwell’s 1984. The specific brief of the Ministry will be to hand back more power to the unions, starting with the repeal of the Conservative Trade Unions Act 2016 which came into force in March of this year. Small wonder trade union heavyweight Ken McCluskey is quoted as saying that some of the policies “are really exciting”.
One of the key things to realise about this is that union power is very far from people power. Sadly, this is something the man in the street, understandably angry and bitter about the extreme disparities between the richest and poorest in modern day Britain, is missing.
Full union power means power to a few. We saw this in the 1970s when unions were able to take action and hold the country to ransom on minority votes.
Corbyn has promised that all companies with over 250 employees will be forced to recognise a specific union to negotiate pay with, if members want it or not. My point exactly.
With full union power restored, British businesses will be at risk from strikes and secondary picketing which could drastically affect day-to-day running for each. Will overseas investors be so keen on investing in businesses controlled by the unions? I doubt it.
Labour manifesto detail describes this as “big levies” on business and industry, especially if any dare to make profits – £250bn pounds worth of borrowing to pay for the party’s plans.
This, too, will make overseas investors and overseas companies think twice about setting up in Britain and providing us with jobs if they are penalised for making profits from it. These proposed taxes will not flow into government coffers if they withdraw.
If this wasn’t going to put them off larger companies from operating in Britain, the changes to employment rights, huge once all previous legislation is reversed, might well do the trick. McDonnell is on record as having promised a £10 minimum wage as soon as he grasped power. He has also promised full employment rights from day one, making it virtually impossible for businesses to part company with any member of staff, however good the reason.
Currently, Labour has pledged to end all zero-hour contracts, double paternity pay, give everyone four more days of holiday and ban the unpaid internships that many rely on to get experience. The opposition party plans to fine businesses that pay staff “too high“ a wage and any company hoping for government contracts will be subject to the 20:1 rule – meaning the highest paid cannot take home more than 20 times that of the lowest.
So for big companies much beleaguered SMEs alike, we have massively rising costs. More dead weight staff to pay. Higher taxes, maybe even fines. Fights with all powerful unions. The rising costs alone will be too punishing for many SMEs to survive.
We have been seeing the “brain drain” from Britain for some time. In 2015, a study by John Jerrim of UCL found that around one-in-ten highly skilled British citizens were living abroad. With massive tax increases at the top we can confidently anticipate the increase of that proportion. Losing our top skills is not going to strengthen Britain or its businesses.
What Orwell exposed so well was the massive weakness in the utopian vision of far left politics: that without incentive, there is no reason to try, and that without trying we achieve zero progress.
The Labour manifesto promises to “clamp down” on self-employment, that traditional breeding ground of entrepreneurs of the future. But in truth, who would want to start a small business under their leadership and policies? Who would want, as us entrepreneurs do, to work 20 hours a day, re-mortgage our houses, make a business our life’s work, if it is to be at risk either from the unions or indeed, as Fisher recommends, from the workers having the “right” to take it off us?
If we have no entrepreneurs wanting to start and risk everything in exciting growth businesses, no overseas investment into Britain, no overseas companies building factories and warehouses in this country, the result will not be the utopia they promise, but a reality huge unemployment, and little money being raised from business at all. We need a more credible alternative to the Conservatives than this.
My business may have had to close its doors at the end of 2016, for a myriad of reasons that you can read about here, but the detail laid out in the leaked Labour manifesto would have me pulling down the shutters anyway if the party got into power.