Date: 26th September 2017
Speakers: Ibrahim Dogus, Bill Esterson MP, Lola McEvoy, Stephen Kinnock MP, Hamish Sandison
Location: Labour Party Conference in Brighton
SME4Labour in partnership with LabourList, hosted an event at Labour Party Conference in Brighton entitled ‘Labour’s links with SMEs: building a pro business reputation’. SME4Labour Co-Chair Ibrahim Dogus was joined by Stephen Kinnock MP, Bill Esterson MP, Lola McEvoy of the Living Wage Foundation, and Labour Business Chair Hamish Sandison.
Bill Esterson MP kicked off the event, making the case for Labour as the party of small business. He spoke of the real un-certainties around Brexit, but stated that Labour is leading the way while the Tories dither and divide on the issue. He argued that Labour’s manifesto was clear in its support of SMEs.
SME4Labour Co-Chair Ibrahim Dogus followed, arguing that we need to invest in SMEs to boost the wider economy. He made the case for greater innovation and that this has been stifled by years of Tory economic neglect, arguing only Labour has the ambition to embrace changes in the economy in a progressive way. Lola McEvoy argued that low pay creates insecure consumers who don’t buy as many goods and services as they otherwise would, making the pro-business case for the real living wage. She spoke of how effective campaigning can make the real living wage a reality and that procurement levers, making it more likely a company will win contracts if it pays the real living wage, should be fully utilised. Stephen Kinnock MP reaﬃrmed that Labour is the party of fair competition, helping the little compete with the large, and that SMEs need better access to finance – access that has dried up in recent sluggish years. He argued for the national investment bank with regional arms, a key part of Labour’s election manifesto. He said that SMEs are the answer to question of how we rebalance our economy, spark a modern manufacturing revolution and build a new kind of inclusive growth. Hamish Sandison closed, arguing that we have to bust the myth that the Tories are a pro-business party. He said that Labour’s excellent policies on health and education are also at-tractive for businesses – businesses thrive with healthy, productive, well-educated workforces.