Britain’s future success relies on a large number of small businesses, not a small number of large ones. So said Labour leader Ed Miliband in his conference speech last week, which openly courted the vote of independent business people.
Mr Miliband made it clear his party would hit big business to help local industry. One such measure includes reversing the coalition’s planned cut in corporation tax for large companies and freezing business rates for small ones.
RN readers are sceptical, however, with 85% of retailers who voted in last week’s poll stating this wouldn’t sway their vote.
A major barrier to winning what a Labour insider has told RN is a “battleground” for the small business vote remains Mr Miliband’s failure to grasp the impact of potential tobacco legislation on the local businesses he is wooing. He continues to attack David Cameron over Tory spin-doctor Lynton Crosby’s links to Philip Morris, memorably labeling him the “prime minister for Benson & hedge funds”.
News broke over the weekend that a cross-party group of MPs is reviving plans to introduce plain tobacco packaging, a few weeks after Mr Cameron shelved them.
Experts are calling the amendments to the Children and Families Bill a ploy to keep plain packaging in the spotlight that are unlikely to get through. But along with a planned all-party business committee debate and the Labour leader’s baiting of the prime minister, it adds fuel to the fire.
Mr Miliband may have a vision for a future with local companies thriving. But retailers will have to decide if a party hell bent on putting their livelihood at risk by handing one of their core categories over to the illicit trade can be a credible champion for small business.