What a Labour government would mean for business in the UK | FT

What a Labour government would mean for business in the UK | FT

Britain may be just weeks
away from yet another general election, and business leaders
around the world are nervously trying to find out what a
potential Labour government would mean for them. This shadow chancellor
is different. I want you to know,
the greater the mess we inherit the more
radical we have to be. Behind deep divisions over
Brexit and the crisis over anti-Semitism in its ranks,
there’s been less attention on Labour’s radical
economic agenda. Lobbyist Ian Anderson
says his clients, blue-chip international
companies, are hungry to know more, and
in particular about shadow chancellor John
McDonnell and his promise to rewrite the rules
of the British economy. When I’m abroad,
when I’m in New York, or when I’m in Asia there’s
a huge amount of interest in Labour’s policies. What does higher corporate
tax actually mean? What would the change in the
approach to regulation mean? And on the wider
economic agenda, is there a partnership between
business and inward investors to help build Labour’s
infrastructure plans? And would you say that
it’s a positive sense among the business world about
what a Corbyn government would mean? Most businesses are
uncomfortable about prospect of John McDonnell as chancellor. There’s not a lot
of common ground. And whilst John
McDonnell will say that he’s talking to
business, a lot of the time he’s talking at business. Corbyn and McDonnell have
taken much of the limelight. But behind them there’s a large
policy network of leftwing MPs, activists, advisers,
Trotskyists, Greens, pressure groups,
think-tanks, academics… the list goes on. In this film, we meet some
of the faces behind the most radical leftwing policies seen
in Britain since the Labour government in 1945: large-scale
redistribution with taxes on the rich and business,
borrowing for infrastructure, the renationalisation
of water, the railways, and other privatised companies,
with shareholders paid back below the market price, the
gradual transfer of 10 per cent of the shares of every big
company to their workers, strengthening the rights
of consumers, workers, and tenants against
shareholders, landlords, and bosses. And these are only the
current existing policy. There are also ideas
being knocked around for a three-day weekend,
a universal basic income, and the land value tax. And on it goes. In the network of policymakers,
Ann Pettifor, a leading critic of neoliberal
economics, stands out as a longtime adviser to shadow
chancellor John McDonnell. What would you say
to business people? Are they right to
be watching this with some measure of alarm? Yes, if I think if you’re
a rent-seeker, you know, if you’re one of today’s
rentier capitalists, there will be a
lot to worry about. It’s not going to be so easy
to drain valuable public assets of wonderful rent easily. In the future, that
may be the case. But I think most of your
readers will actually look forward to this. Because what they want more than
anything else, I would think, is economic stability
and economic prosperity. As long as we have the
low levels of income that we have now, where we have
the kind of insurrection that is represented by
Brexit and that is very destabilising
in the economy. And what business
people often ask… they kind of see
two John McDonnells. They see a shadow chancellor
who has a very amiable bank-manager manner. There’s also the
John McDonnell who’s suddenly very angry about
bringing down capitalism. Which is the real
John McDonnell? There’s no doubt that
he’s on the left. But when it comes
down to it, John is really pragmatic and
sensible, and sometimes, in my view, a little too
conventional, really. When it comes to
Labour’s ambitious plans for renationalisation one
campaigning group has been very influential among the
Corbynistas, We Own It, founded by Cat Hobbs, who wants
to reverse the privatisations of the 1980s Thatcher era, a
policy that was largely left untouched by Labour
under Tony Blair. Some critics of Labour’s
nationalisation policy suggest that it is very
labour-intensive, time-intensive. Do you think it is the best use
of the time of a radical Labour government? Absolutely. Because what this is
about is taking assets that will make a profit
for the public purse back into public hands. So it means ending the rip-off
that we’ve got right now. It means giving
everybody a fairer deal in terms of our
bills and the money that we’re paying out
for these services. But it also gives us
a really vital tool that we can use in
delivering a Green New Deal, in tackling the climate crisis. Are there other
private-sector industries which you would like
to see nationalised which, at the moment,
are not being discussed? So We Own It is calling
for all public services to be run in public hands. And so what that means is
it means energy, water, the railways, buses, the NHS,
schools, council services, libraries, care work, parks,
all of those things… But what about… …should be… …the defence industry? …in public hands. What about airports? Yeah, I think wherever
there’s a public service. So defence industry,
yes, airports, yes. All of these things
are public services that we don’t have a choice
about relying on, really. We’re not talking about
the whole economy here. So we want to see
a mixed economy. Public services should be run
for people rather than profit. Private companies
and private investors can invest in the
rest of the economy. The chance of these radical
policies becoming reality is being taken seriously
in some quarters. Former head of the Civil
Service, Bob Kerslake has been charged with
advising McDonnell and team on the potential
transition into government. I’m not a member of
the Labour party, nor am I developing
their policies. What I’m doing is
helping them think about the task of
moving into government. And it’s worth saying they
face some real challenges. We have huge social
divisions that are matched by economic divisions. And in my view,
the important thing is that we have a government
that has the courage to see through the
radical responses that are going to be needed. We’re talking about a very
ambitious programme of radical change. But most of the people around
Jeremy Corbyn have not been ministers or running the
government under previous Labour administrations. Does that make it
harder for them? Yes, it is a radical programme. And indeed they have some
who have got experience of government, but not many. And in a way, that’s
not surprising if you’ve been out of
power for nearly a decade. But I think if you look at
the policies, many of them are policies, if
you went to Europe, would not be hugely surprising
– national ownership of the railways, for example. So they’re radical
for the direction that this country has gone
in for the last 50 years. But they’re not so
radical when you look at some other
countries in Europe. But Labour is deeply divided,
and the radical Corbyn agenda has alarmed many
more moderate MPs. In February 2019, it was
enough for Chris Leslie, a former shadow chancellor, to
resign as a Labour MP against what he said was Labour’s
shambolic Brexit policy, anti-Semitism in the party,
and its hard-left economics. Ultimately, it is
anti-capitalist. It’s not about
regulating markets, it’s about overthrowing markets. From my point of view, looking
at a choice of finite amounts of money, are you going to spend
£90bn to nationalise the water industry, or should that £90bn
be used for something more socially productive? But they’ll make the point that
that is covered by the profits that you then get by
owning the water industry. And they would suggest the £90bn
is far too high an estimate. Yeah, but only in an
environment where the market is going to say, oh, yeah,
we’re absolutely fine with you taking assets
below market value. I mean, the idea that a Labour
chancellor is going to go to the market and say, we’d
like to borrow £500bn pounds. Oh, but the person
in front of you, we just sequestered their
assets below market value. Those behind are
going to say, well, we might lend you some money,
but at a much, much higher risk premium. And of course, when the
interest rates increase, who pays the price for those? Ultimately the poorest in
society, or the public services that will suffer as a result. Laura Parker, the national
co-ordinator of Momentum, the grassroots movement founded
four years ago to support Jeremy Corbyn, believes
that Labour can move beyond the current rows over Brexit and
anti-Semitism and its election defeat in 2017 to win the next
general election on a radical platform. Do you think the movements
around Jeremy Corbyn, Corbynomics, will have a life
beyond the current leader? Yes, absolutely. And I think that now
we have mainstreamed this thinking about
economics in particular, throughout the party. We’ve got a new generation
of people in parliament. I mean, I don’t think
it’s that, you know, when Jeremy takes
off to his allotment, suddenly there’s nobody left. You know, we’re not
stuck for people. I mean, you know FT readers
are probably pretty smart folk. And smart folk will
have understood that we can’t continue as we are. Whenever that general
election comes, we’re ready. We’re ready to
campaign for victory. We’re ready for government. We’re ready to build the future. We’ll be proud to call that
future socialism, solidarity. Some pundits believe Labour
has little chance of winning a general election, not least
because of Mr Corbyn’s low opinion poll ratings. But elections are unpredictable. In 2017, Labour started
out 24 points behind the Conservatives, but ended
up winning 30 seats and almost gaining power. Business leaders in the UK and
around the world are looking very carefully to see what a
Labour government could mean.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. BUSINESS under Labour would be LABOURIOUS! BIG GIRLS BLOUSE you are Corbin who wimped out calling a general election … let the votes talk. Boris Johnson rightly called him a "Big GIRLS BLOUSE!". Certain PC people were appalled at such language but then they are hypocrites and traitors so wincing at "BIG GIRLS BLOUSE" is spot on description for traitors who would behave like Stalinists with knives out.

  2. If business is unhappy with John McDonnell as chancellor they should consider the possibilities of Dianne Abbott running the economy

  3. I do wish people would call this out for what it is or even admit it, this is communism simply and if people want this then so be it but they could at least have the decency to admit what it is, the fact nobody does is a testament to how sinister and cynical this power grab is.

  4. Why does nationalization have to occur? Why not just start a government owned and funded railway company instead? Let’s have some competition between private and government railway companies.

    This will lead to better service and lower rates for the public .

  5. Shows what a state Labour is in when the ft has run a week long feature a pity the fact there's left wing politicians in the party.

    That "radical left wing" 1945 labour government shaped the country as we know it today and made us an example for compassionate capitalism across the world.

  6. Moor lies hear we go. Lot harder when in doing it. Rubbish women. Hear we go. Brexit smears. Don't buy it. No chance

  7. Yay! The world has been terrorized by right radicals like Trump, Berlusconi, Balsanro. It's about time we are terrorized by radicals from the left.

  8. Madness when did any labour government manage to run a profitable private company all they ever talk about is BIG government and more tax on the rich and middle class Blair and Brown was the only labour government that understood business do you think
    That idiot corbyn could run a country or a business where is his business track record he's living in the Soviet past

  9. Nationalisation will not work. Governments are no good at running businesses. Much better to take a shareholding and reap the dividends. Anything run by the government will eventually cost us more and we will end up with worse services. Been there and worn the T-Shirt.Yes we do need change and fairness but this communistic regime will fail. Always we have to have extremes never the middle ground lurching left and right and back again.

  10. I actually agree with these policies. However, just for its treasonous stance on Brexit, I’ll be voting Brexit Party or Tory and I bet there are many others just like me. I’m fuming. Well done labour ??????????

  11. The labour government would lead to ruin to business hard times for folk north of London wouldn't trust the grey haired double act Corbyn and MacDonald with anything nevermind our country

  12. The labour party used to be viewed as a working-class party unfortunately they are now regarded by many as a ethnic party.

  13. You can’t be serious…. there isn’t a single case in history where this has worked. Poland, Latvia, Romania, hungry were extremely poor before the iron curtain fell. They couldn’t wait to get out of it. Venezuela is bankrupt and corrupt. Look North Korea. What utter madness is this. How can any one believe in this.

  14. When i voted for Labour I didn’t have a pot to piss in. Now i have voted for the Conservative party I own my own house and have money in the bank.

  15. Seriously, Corbyn, the coward, McDonell the boom and bust man, abbot the abacus and thornberry who would renegotiate with the EU and then campaign for remain, really?

  16. The thing that Corbynomics doesn't understand and Socialist economics more broadly is that those who have created and maintained their wealth have done so because of their brains and skills to create goods and services. And they are at the tops of chains of command that are complex and difficult and that service many many people. And if you make it hostile for those people to exist then they leave, and if they leave they take those brains and skills with them and things slide. The only reason this doesn't happen so rapidly in full communist countries (although it does happen to a lesser extent) is because those people usually cannot escape, they cannot get to free countries and economies, and as we saw in East Germany for instance those who owned and operated private businesses pre-socialism were forced by the state to continue operating them at the same rates of output etc or face the gulag. Unless Corbyn is attempting to do that then the wealthy and highly skilled by and large are able to move globally and relocate, even a small dip in that will have a stultifying effect on the economy.

  17. How can you oversee a Brexit disaster and complain about Labour. Are you totally out of touch with reality? Anyway, if you didnt predict that the same thing that happened in Greece and Italy would happend in UK i dont know why you even are a paper.

  18. Labour will never get in power not this year not next year not ever …Even staunch labour supportors have stated they won't vote labour ….Why Corbyn.. Abboppopotamus (Dianne Abbott)..Thornbury..And the rest of the idiots of labour these last few days in parliament they have shown there true colours ..On a talk show only yesterday the audience a lot of labour supportors tore Thornbury into shreds and disagreed with every thing she said most stating she should of voted no deal BREXIT that was the will of a majority of people in the United Kingdom she has destroyed Democracy and lost Touch with reality stating it's I want i want it ignoring the vote of her constituency who voted leave and that is what she campaigned for the proving she was a liar on British television that was after she stated Boris Johnson was a liar and she practically stated she did not care about the British people or her voters then the audacity of this women she stated she was always a true remainer ..Bloody hypocrisy at the highest level from this horrid nasty evil women …..Labour has destroyed this country has we know it these last few days they have made the united kingdom a laughing stock….

  19. OMG multinational corporations will have to honor worker & consumer rights. AND pay taxes. Put out a scare film to protect your corporate masters. FT is a propaganda outlet.

  20. Richard Branson supported Corbyn and is a friend now Corbyn wants to take his trains off him .. Destroy his business… Do you think business will want to come to the united kingdom under this idiots power …what type of man is Corbyn ……A 2 faced liar not to be trusted…

  21. The Labour deserters want media time and to profit on neo-liberal policies that enriched the Blairites during the New Labour era.

  22. Labour in government…??? Nope they blew it!!!! The Labour vote in Scotland is gone (thanks Mr Blair), The Labour vote in the North East (of all places) is going, The North vote is going! Now shitting on Brexit has also finished them! throw in getting into bed with SNP, Lib (un)Dems has ended the chances of ever getting the keys to No10!!!! FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Corbyn has gone against the people and stopped Brexit.God help the working class if he becomes PM.We will be kicked back to serfdom days.

  24. Corbyn and McDonald are both IRA supporters McDonald even apologized on TV and he takes quotes from the little red book which killed millions both open socialists and both support communism and Corbyn live with his mum until his late 30s privately educated has never had a job has no business sense and they both hate anything patriotic they're both career politicians who have no problem lying

  25. So… if the Labour Party win at the upcoming General Election, they say they will go to Brussels, renegotiate a different and "better" deal than Theresa May's disaster of a "deal". Then they will offer the British Electorate another Referendum in which they will campaign to Remain.
    On what planet does one advise the Electorate to vote AGAINST the deal that you have so painstakingly negotiated, the deal (no doubt a "soft Brexit") for which you have been calling since 2016?
    And why the Hell does Labour believe that the EU would even bother to negotiate with them at all, seeing as Labour are going to campaign against any deal which might result anyway?
    All I can say to Labour is this…. Good Luck to you explaining to the 148 Labour held constituencies that voted (some by 60 to 70%) to LEAVE THE EU that you have decided to ignore their wishes.

    When Farage has dozens of his MP's in Parliament, YOU can explain me WHY you let that happen.
    From a life=long Labour supporter, voted LEAVE, never ever voted for the party of Thatcherism
    Thankyou oh so very much, you anti-democratic disingenuous Champagne Socialists.

  26. What an out of date and irrelevant organisation you appear as in this footage. To dig up language from the 1920's to try to scare an elite at home with monopoly patronage who now have nothing to fear from antiquated extreme ideologies but haven't the creativity to argue with accuracy and understanding of the accessibility of information on offer today. Then you throw in a wild soundbite about the post war consensus government which has a great legacy to date and that people support en masse but greedy unsociable elites wish to tear apart like a near extinct pack of wolves to a business class who prefer private health insurance and gated isolation with resources enough to stealthily draw wealth from western populations nearing breaking point in real estate, low wages, poor quality of employment, export of services and manufacturing, sale of infrastructure to the indiscriminate world to squeeze growth out of a seriously bad UK trading balance.
    Traitors penned this piece in fear of the failure of the economic model that has driven the west to its knees whilst supporting autocracies in Asia, and now look to the same regimes for their liquidity because they over inflated their native economies. Sad message because it ignores the people in totality with and aims merely at closet policy making at odds with the future of the UK state. Balance your books and stop wheeling and dealing with society, you have ruined the western world which is quite at home to responsible free trade. There is no far left anymore, it failed with fascism in the 1930's, today there is just a very big and very poor lower middle class who are wiser than you wish for. The oppressed are the workers in your hideous Asian workplaces which flood the markets with cheap shite but cost the earth in resources. Any future revolution won't be socialist it will be based on morality against ruthless unpatriotic, unsustainable business, the reliance upon faked currencies which you trade in for actual transferrable wealth.
    It is a bizarre piece indeed, when we're watching the Trump trade war over national salvation across the pond, the rise of tensions in Asia and the Russian model of oligarchic capitalism – all things which your poor shareholder readership have created inadvertently. So be a bit more bulldog and use clarity and reality instead of foul play in spreading false accounts of the status quo. Your interviewees did not support your narrative at all, they suggested the system needs fixing, but you followed up with contrary analysis to all of them.

  27. Poor and middle class "millionaires" on 80k a year will pay extra for all those lunatic policies. The winners will be the all sorts of layabouts, public servants and politicians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *