Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has just delivered his keynote speech at the Labour Party conference in Brighton and it was a chance for him to outline his vision for the country’s economy.
After his fellow Labour MP Simon Danczuk openly questioned his appointment in last week’s Retail Newsagent, it was a vital opportunity for Mr McDonnell to introduce himself in a positive way to readers.
So what’s the snap verdict? For small businesses I’d say mixed, at best – not least because the words ‘small business’ didn’t appear once.
Now for some, this will be a relief. With the left-wing shadow minister promising that bigger businesses would be forced to hand over more to government, there might have been some store owners who felt that their turn was coming.
What was pledged, however, was the introduction of the Living Wage (an independently-calculated figure significantly above even the government’s National Living Wage) – something will provide yet another challenge to store owners struggling to survive with small margins of profits.
So was there anything positive put forward? Mr McDonnell’s referencing of the Entrepreneurial State, a book economist Mariana Mazzucato, highlights the value he puts in the dynamism, dedication and nimbleness of Britain’s businesses and would like the state to learn from the efficiencies and performance levels they can reach.
If this is his belief then it should be welcomed – a senior minister with a true understanding and respect for this is a rare and precious thing – but his task remains showing us that he has the policies to support the entrepreneurs he admires.
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