SPEND, SPEND, SPEND
Lord Digby Jones, former Minister for Trade and Industry
One of the most gifted orators of our time with an impressive record in Government after an equally impressive track record in business, Lord Jones is one of the most sought after speakers and commentators of our time. The following is one of many articles he has written for leading publications around the world.
It seems that's all people want to talk about;
.....that's all they ever want to talk about! No-one ever talks about earning the stuff!
I fear that educationalists, environmentalists, trades unionists, politicians & (dare I say it!?) some journalists just don't get it; they think it grows on trees! The penny hasn't dropped: without the money that business makes, without the profits that flow from businesses, large & small, there would be no tax, no employment, no public sector.
Think about it......when a business makes a profit, it can only do one of three things with it. It can reward the shareholders who took the risk by way of paying a dividend or making a capital gain on sale.....& they'll pay tax on it. It can keep it in the business as retained, undistributed profit.....& it'll pay tax on it. It can employ people & pay them, bonuses an' all......& the employees will pay tax on it!
And that tax goes to pay the good, hard-working people who work in the public sector; the nurses, the airmen, the doctors, the fire-fighters, the teachers, the soldiers, the policemen, the sailors, the prison officers......& they pay tax on it!
But if it wasn't for the tax that is paid out (directly or indirectly) of the profits that businesses make, there would be no employment, there would be no public sector.
That is just how important business is to our Country......& sadly, right now, by listening to what Ed Milliband says, or rather doesn't say, he clearly doesn't "get it".
Wouldn't it be great if we were to hear next week a speech from the Labour Leader that said in no uncertain terms that profit was a good thing, that creating wealth was essential if we are going to be able to afford the public services we all want?
I have no party-political axe to grind; I have never belonged to a political party & don't intend to change that state of affairs any time soon. Indeed, I am the only Minister of Her Majesty's Government who served whilst not belonging to the party of Government. Business is my constituency; from the largest multi-national UK businesses that I am proud to advise, to small businesses that I am delighted to chair, I am more plugged into the mood of UK Business than most & certainly more than the political class in London SW1 of whom one believes a career before politics is "sorted" by serving as a special advisor at HM Treasury!
Every time a Bank or an Energy Company transgresses; each time they show by their discovered deeds that they are not deserving of our trust & understanding, the woman running a small business in Newcastle, the guy risking his house & reputation to build a business & employ people in Birmingham ....they pay the price. Mr Milliband & his confreres see all their anti-business pejorative fulfilled; they can say..."look! Business is at it again". When will they understand that 99.9% of large & small businesses in our Country are forces for good in our Nation? They don't run round the Country screaming "You're fired!" as they get out of their Rolls-Royces; they create profit from which comes the tax that pays for the NHS. Jaguar Land Rover do this; BP do this; SME's all over the Country do this. Mr Miliband....when will you publicly acknowledge that this is a "good thing". Making money is not to be decried & suspected.
"Vote for anti-austerity" is the cry; vote for me & I will give you everything .....from no more debt in Greece to a UK economy that is promised enjoyment of everything for free. It can't go on. We need, badly, in the next 90 days, people from Labour who will tell the Electorate that making money is to be encouraged, to be aspired to.
Then we stand a chance. As a trading, open Nation we have a chance of attracting people who will come & invest billions of pounds, pay tons of tax & create hundreds of thousands of jobs; but this will simply not happen if the mood music from a possible Labour Government is so stridently anti-business. Ed Milliband doesn't "get it". Telling people that you are against profit but will champion state subsidy, state banking & state intervention is a route back to those dreadful days of the Seventies.
To whomever forms the next Government, I say this:
We currently have the most successful economy in the developed world. Low inflation, low interest rates, low unemployment, high growth. Those conditions are the envy of every country in Europe & beyond. Please, please don't wreck it.
Set business free to make the most of it so that a sixteen year-old kid wants to be an apprentice in a business & is set up with a career for life;
Set business free so that it generates the profits to pay the tax to build the schools & hospitals.
Set business free so it can be the agent of social inclusion, skilling the workforce, lifting people up & helping them fulfil their dreams.
Mr Miliband, stop composing an anti-business mood music that destroys aspiration, creates an atmosphere of suspicion of the wealth-creative process &, at precisely the moment that our Country is faced with an open goal, fails to put the ball in the net. ..........................................................................
Lord Digby Jones is a cross-bench Peer in the House of Lords; he served as Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry from 2000 to 2006 & as Minister of State for Trade & Investment from 2007 to 2008.