Why I've joined Labour 🌹
First publsihed in The Times Red Box 17 June 2022 - HERE
Yesterday in a speech at the Times CEO Summit, Rachel Reeves once again committed Labour to being the party of business. She amplified Keir Starmer’s pledge, as they put their names to deliver a new economy of security, prosperity and respect that will give businesses and workers the opportunity to thrive. It’s a powerful commitment, an astute re-imagining of what and who our economy is for. For me, her speech yesterday - centred on making Britain the best place to start and to grow a business - was a personal tipping point.
I reflected overnight and today I signed up to be a member of the Labour Party, pledging to do all I can to ensure a Labour Government is elected at the next General Election.
I know what it means to put your name to something.
A hundred years before I was born my great grandparents put their name to something - a promise to each other and a dream of a better future - on their marriage certificate. They marked their names with an ‘x’ as neither could read or write, but they knew the power of commitment, and when it was time to reach for a better future.
16 years ago I put my daughter’s name to something. The name of my first company, Ella’s Kitchen: a start-up that became the UK’s biggest baby food brand, an exporter to over 50 countries and one of this country’s first B Corporations. Putting her name to it bound me to ensure it grew with values at its core, as a mission-led, purpose-driven and people-centred organisation because that was my promise to her. I promised it would help make the future better by offering innovation, listening to customers and always seeking to follow its founding mission as it grew and grew. I’m proud that it is seen as one of Britain’s entrepreneurial success stories of the last 20 years.
I’ve put my name to the Labour Party because I see an enormous gulf between the decency, values, and competence in Starmer’s Labour Party to those of the Conservatives.
The Labour Party now has found a confidence and a credibility to be a serious opposition and a Government-in-waiting. It has an emerging plan for a prosperous, more just economy that works for everyone and for the long term. Reeves’ speech yesterday wasn’t an outlier but an argument that built on Starmer’s speech to the CBI in November, and on the foundations she has already laid for a green and prosperous economy.
Through my time in business, I have learned that trust lies at the very heart of human society, and that to deliver trust you need common values, credibility and vision. In the Corbyn years Labour lacked each of these, and consequently found no route to power. But things have changed.
The new-look Shadow Cabinet is full of competent, serious and decent people, who week-by-week, interview-by-interview, action-by-action exude credibility. They have presented a set of values that resonate with those of us desperate for leadership with a moral imagination. And they have begun to paint a vision of a prosperous country, whose tax system is fair and whose communities care.
I believe that a Labour government would work with business to do all it can to create an environment where firms optimize their profits and make life better for employees, customers and the wider community. As a nation we would generate more wealth allowing businesses to do more social good - meaning we would become a richer and fairer society.
I also believe that Labour ministers would have the competence to build a stable macro-economic framework, including sound public finances and a fair, predictable tax system; delivering stable interest, foreign exchange and inflation rates. They would lead a government that helps - not hinders - exports and relations with our trading partners. They would give businesses and entrepreneurs the confidence to invest and innovate, and consumers the confidence to buy.
We need a government that can articulate a viable and trusted plan to deliver sustainable economic growth. One that really believes in building an added value green economy through investment and innovation. One that supports small businesses and encourages and rewards entrepreneurship. One that has policies to develop our children’s skills, experience and confidence so that - when their turn comes - they not only contribute to wealth creation but see the rewards of this in the dignity of skilled employment, the security of a living wage and the excitement of setting up their own businesses. One that can unleash a transformation of our economy and exciting opportunities for our country in the 21st Century. One that Starmer and Reeves have begun to articulate.
Putting your name to something matters, your word and commitment matters, decency matters. Keir Starmer has put his at the very heart of this re-vitalised Labour Party. I’ve now put my name to stand behind him and his team and encourage them to be brave and build more and more transformative policies into its economic plans. I invite other business leaders and entrepreneurs to do the same.