Ed Miliband had been criticized for being “anti-business” after his Labour conference speech this week, in which he attacked companies as being “predatory” and called our society a “fast-buck culture”. He has denied these claims, saying that his hope was to improve business practices and ensure that behaviour in the industry is on form, in order to improve the UK economy.
The party leader agreed with the elimination of larger bonuses and pay packages for companies that do not progress much. However, the ex-head of the CBI, Lord Jones criticized the speech, saying it was harsh for businesses. The Conservative party accused the Labour party leader of being “weak” and pandering to his own party.
The speech, which was applauded by the members in the conference hall and union leaders, attacked companies that “stripped assets”, saying they damaged the economic recovery and called for rewards to be given to those who work hard, not those who do not. Union leaders called him a “man on a mission”.
Andrew Cave, from the Federation of Small Business said that the speech, which also urged companies that wanted public contracts to offer apprenticeships, would cut off support for small businesses that couldn’t afford it. Director-general of the CBI, John Cridland supported the long term goals but criticized the stereotypes created. Lord Jones said that business leaders might be offended.
A New Middle Ground
Mr. Milliband argued that Labour would not move to the left, but rather stand in a middle ground, which was changing. He argued that responsibility at the top was not an idea of the far left and highlighted his rewards for those in the welfare system, with community contributors proposed to gain better treatment in social housing. He maintained that his comments had been directed at good vs. bad business practices.
The party leader advocated that Labour would advocate good business practice through the use of tax and regulation, saying that government spending should not be the way social justice is created in the coming years. The political economy would have to be balance properly in order to solve these problems. Mr. Miliband complimented both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but said, “I’m my own man and I’m going to do things my own way.”