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Andy Burnham MP

Labour Party Leadership Candidate

Speech on the Economy and Business

Labour will value the entrepreneur as
much as the nurse
Friday, 29th May 2015

Ernst & Young

1 More London Place

Check against delivery

Thank you Rachel.

Three weeks ago this morning, Labour was waking
up with a monumental headache.
And lets be honest, it still hasnt cleared.
We are only just beginning to bring ourselves round
and work out what happened.
The truth is too few of us saw the punch coming.
And we must all take our share of responsibility for
Politics is a bruising business but, as any boxer
knows, there is no point going back in the ring until
you have been brutally honest with yourself about
why you lost.
Otherwise, you will just get knocked out again
only worse.

To be fair, it was always going to be difficult to get

up off the floor in 2010 and come back to
Government at the first time of asking.
And we managed to put up a fight.
We developed a powerful critique about how
globalisation and the casualisation of work had
changed lives and left people feeling insecure.
We had good individual policies.
But they didnt add up to a winning ticket or a
convincing whole.
And the painful fact is this: though we pride
ourselves on being the party of the many, we only
had answers for the few. Too few. Our appeal was
too narrow.

Labour didnt just lose votes to our traditional

enemy. We lost them to UKIP in seats across
England and Wales, and to the SNP in Scotland.
One way to look at this is as three separate defeats,
requiring three separate remedies.
But Labour must take care not to fall into that trap.
If were being really honest, we have a much
deeper problem which underlies our loss of votes to
all parties.
And it requires us to act and to change if we are to
avoid the same fate in 2020.
The plain truth is this: people in all places have lost
an emotional connection with us; a sense of what
kind of people we are; what Labour is for.
Too many have come to see the party as part of an
out-of-touch establishment, a metropolitan elite, not

listening to their concerns on immigration or

Too many in business looked at us and did not see
a Party which they felt understood their challenges
or was on their side.
And across the UK, people had lingering doubts
about our economic competence.
Many were undecided right up to the wire in this
Election. They were no great fans of David
Cameron, his Conservatives or the Coalition.
But, in the final analysis, they saw Labour as a risk
they couldnt take.
They did not see clearly enough how we would help
secure their family or their business.
The ballot box, just like the boxing ring, cruelly
exposes weaknesses.

But the great thing about our country is, if you are
prepared to face up to what those weaknesses are,
truly to take on board what people were saying,
then you can gain another hearing and bounce back
That is what Labour under my leadership will do.
I am the kind of politician who listens closely to what
people say on the doorsteps and in the pub and at
the match.
And I have shown in my career that I am not just
prepared to listen. I will take the message back and
act on it too.
That is what leadership means.
It is how I will lead.
I have spent the early days of this campaign facing
up to what people are saying about why they lost

trust in us on economic competence, spending

and immigration.
And today I want to focus on another weakness
our relationship with business.
I am clear that no political party can win a British
General Election if they convey any sense of being
anti-business, wealth creation or success.
But I also want you all to know that I am not the kind
of person who just comes to make speeches like
this to say the right thing and tick the right boxes.
And Labour needs to do much more than that if it is
win peoples trust again.
You only win if you can communicate a convincing
sense of who you are and what you are all about;
why you want the job; and what you will do with it.
So this is where I want to start in this, my first major
speech of this Leadership campaign.

And it goes back to my own beginnings.

I am the comprehensive lad who went to Cambridge
and then into the Cabinet; the grandson of a
Liverpool lorry-driver and a cleaner who was
determined to make a break with her humble
beginnings and own her own home; the son of a
telephone engineer and a GP receptionist who
moved heaven and earth to make sure my brothers
and I would be the first in our family to go to
I have always done things on my own steam. I
didnt get in to Cambridge on family connections. I
wasnt gifted my constituency. I wasnt made a
minister because of trade union patronage.
I have always been my own man and I will keep it
that way as Leader.
But I have been helped up the ladder by so many
people and I want to make sure that ladder, which is

a lot more rickety than it used to be, is still there for

people like me coming through now.
My background epitomises what Labour should be
all about: helping everyone get on, whoever they
are and wherever they come from.
And that background has given me a better
understanding than most of what aspiration - the
new political buzzword of our times - really means.
Politicians make a terrible mistake when they try to
compartmentalise the voters, speaking only to some
in certain parts of the country or those who frequent
certain shops.
Aspiration is not the preserve of those who shop at
John Lewis. It is universal; felt just as keenly by
Asda and Aldi shoppers, perhaps even more so.
But the difference is this: the odds on people
actually achieving their aspirations varies greatly.

Some still have the odds stacked against them.

This is, when it all comes down to it, why I became
a politician and why I am standing before you now
applying for this job.
It is because of that sense of injustice which I felt,
when I finally arrived at Cambridge, in my first job in
publishing, and in Westminster when I looked
around me and realised that, when youre trying to
make your way in the world, connections and
background too often count for more than talent and
hard graft.
So, in this contest, when people ask: What will the
Labour Party you lead be for?
My answer will be simple: to help everyone get on.
Every person, every family, every business
whoever they are, wherever they come from.

That is what my Labour Party will exist to do: help

people get on.
I have never believed in levelling down, denigrating
success or the politics of envy.
Nor have I ever believed that people should be
handed everything on a plate.
But I believe passionately in everyone having a fair
chance in life.
It worries me that, in some peoples eyes, Labour
has become associated with giving people who
dont want to help themselves an easy ride.
We must change that perception before we can win
The Labour Party I lead will be once again truly the
Party of work where, if people are prepared to
put in the hard graft, their accent or background
must never hold them back.

Where all young people who get the grades will

have real prospects at the end of school.
Most people want broadly the same things in life: to
get a good education; to own their own home; to get
a decent and stable job; maybe to start a business;
to set their kids up as best they can; and to pass on
to them what they have worked for.
But the reality is that these simple things are
becoming more distant dreams for millions, and
they worry their children will find they have
disappeared altogether.
So, throughout this leadership campaign, I will set
out my ideas for how we make these basic human
aspirations an achievable reality for all.
This is the cause which I ask people to join.
It is a cause which I believe is bigger than me,
bigger than my Party.

It is a cause which I believe can win support across

communities, businesses, and people right across
And it is a cause which can change our country for
the better because it gives everyone a sense of
hope for the future.
That is how Labour wins again: with simple,






everyones aspirations and are part of a bigger

cause to change Britain.
And its that emphasis on everyone that sets us
The philosophy of others is about a lucky few
escaping their backgrounds; that for every winner
there must be a loser.
I believe we are all stronger when everyone has
hope and no-one is left behind.

That is how we make our society stronger, less

divided, and is how we rebuild the broad coalition of
voters that put us into power in 1997.
And it explains why this contest for the Leadership
of the Labour Party is relevant to all of you and to
businesses throughout the UK.
We have just come through a General Election
which has left us more divided as a nation and more
uncertain about our future.
The plates are shifting beneath us.
Do any of us really know where the UK will be in 10
years time?
We will still live in the same country of four nations?
And will that country be a leading member of the
European Union?

This is why I passionately and profoundly believe

that the Labour Party, for all our weaknesses, still
matters to you all; and why I believe British
business urgently needs us now to regain our
strength, our confidence and our voice.
We are the only Party with reach into all parts of the
When our main opponents are playing with the fire
of nationalism for their own interests, we are the
political force best-placed to hold people and the
country together.
And when those opponents are sending mixed
signals to our European trading partners, we are
your best bet to secure your businesses prosperity
and place in the market.
Make no mistake - these are dangerous political

This country is staring straight at some of the

biggest political challenges in its history.
If we are strong when we face them, then your
voice in that debate will be stronger too.
That is why Labour matters to you, and to this
But I know we will only regain its strength if we
reach out, listen to you and rebuild a broader
coalition of support.
I put myself forward to lead my Party because I
believe I am the man to do that.
I will be a Leader people can relate to, who can
speak to people in all our regions and nations, who
can bring them together.
For too long, my own party has been pulled this way
and that by different agendas.

I can move beyond all that because my politics

comes from the heart of Labour, not factions within
I will draw a line under the stale old debate that
says after an Election defeat the answer is to jump
left or to jump right.
Because the public simply dont see life that way.
The change they are looking for is someone to call
time on politics as usual and take it out of the
Westminster bubble.
This is the change that I think Labour needs and, if
you agree, then I am your man.
My appeal is to everyone who sees things the same
to join me in being a force for change in Labour, so
we can once again be the force for change in our

I know that I cannot build that broad coalition to help








fragmented times without the support of business.

And that is why I am here today.
We will not make progress until Labour is listening
to business again and seen to be on their side.
I know many people who run their own business,
and indeed those who work for them, feel Labour
was not for them.
My wife has run her own business, having spent all
her career in the private sector.
When she set up on her own a few years ago, I saw
how much pressure it placed on her and she lived
every setback and every triumph.
People who run their own businesses invest so
much in what they do. Most feel a huge sense of

responsibility to the people they employ, the

communities in which they work, and take on a
huge amount of worry about all of those things.
They know that small changes to public policy can
have a big impact on all this. So they watch quite
carefully what people like me have to say.
When did they last hear a Labour politician say
thank you for what they do for employing our
constituents and investing in our communities?
Nowhere near enough is the answer and that is why
many conclude that we dont see things from their
point of view and are not on their side.
And this is where I want to signal an important
I think part of the way Labour got it wrong on
business in the last Parliament was that we simply
didnt say enough that we value what you do
creating jobs and wealth.

We didnt celebrate the spirit of enterprise.

Far too rarely over the last few years has Labour
spoken up in praise of the everyday heroes of our
The small businessman or woman.
The sole trader.
The innovator, the inventor, the entrepreneur.
The businesses that feed us, cloth us, keep our
houses warm, get us to work, entertain us.
The small businesses that become big businesses.
The people with the creative spark to think of a new
idea and the get-up-and-go to make it work.

Who often have to fight against the odds to

succeed, but put in the hours, the sweat and the
hard graft to do it.
The people who take risks, have sleepless nights.
So I want this message to go out loud and clear
today: in the Labour Party I lead, they will be as
much our heroes as the nurse or the teacher.
Labour must always champion wealth creation, and
show we understand that, if we want world-class
public services, and if we want high-skill, high-wage
jobs, then we must wholeheartedly support the
businesses that create the revenue to pay for them.
Of course, we have to do more than talk the talk.
We have to back it up in our actions.
Not enough business-people were convinced that
we would secure sound public finances or run the

economy in a way that could create the jobs of the


No-one denies that we were right to highlight

growing inequality, or the fact that too many people
are living lives on low wages with insecure
employment. These issues are important to the
business community too.
But too few people believed that we had a
comprehensive plan to narrow that inequality
through creating a modern, dynamic and innovative
Because that is the only long-term way we can help
everyone get on and fulfil their aspirations.
It wasnt that we didnt have some good policies for
business; we did.

Like a British Investment Bank to boost lending; or a

commitment to cut business rates; or plans to give
business more control over skills and training.
But we didnt knit our policies together into a
convincing story of renewal and regeneration and,
while many were individually good for consumers,
collectively they gave the impression that they were
bad for business.
So now we need to ask for your help in developing
a route-map to our progressive goals in a way that
can command much broader support across the
business community.
Crucial to that is our approach to the deficit.
The defining question of the last days of the
Election and the aftermath was this: did Labour
spend too much before the crash?

Ironically, the Tories didnt use to think that we did

they backed Labours spending plans right up until
They even described the spending settlement I
negotiated across government as Chief Secretary to
the Treasury in 2007 as tough.
And the truth is that Labour did fix the roof when the
sun was shining the leaky roofs of the crumbling
schools and hospitals we inherited.
That investment did not cause Lehman Brothers to
But, with hindsight, we didnt get everything right
and, at the Election, we didnt do enough to
acknowledge the doubts people had about our
management of the public finances.
If we are to win back trust, we have to start by
admitting that we should have been reducing the

deficit more quickly in the years before the crash

and that this would have left us better able to resist
its effects when it came.
We did not indeed could not abolish boom and
And so prudence, as a watchword and a way of
running the public finances, should have been
better adhered to in those middle years of the last
But let me be clear: in saying this, I am not







Far from being profligate, we had reduced the debt
in the ten years leading up to the crisis and by
historic standards the deficit was small.
But it was still too high and the banks were not
sufficiently regulated, here or abroad.








Government will be to establish a sound financial

footing from the outset.
If the current Government again fails to balance the
books, the next Government under my leadership
will make it an immediate priority.
Because we cant go into the next election, as we
did into the last, with business and the public
unclear on how Labour will balance the books, or
when we will do so.
It is only by addressing the current account deficit
and debt that we will be heard again by business,
and the wider country, on the other issues crucial to
our success as an economy.
But our plan is not a Tory plan because public
spending cuts cannot bear all the brunt of deficit

Instead, Rachel will lead the development of a

detailed plan for growth, for infrastructure, for
business investment, for the new economy and for
the jobs of the future.
And the delivery of that plan will be the single
highest priority of the next Labour Government.
That is because our future prosperity depends upon
The lesson of the last decade is this: with our
dependence on growth and tax revenue from too
few industries, in too small a part of the UK; with
high private sector debt; with big banks who had
taken big risks and individuals without the savings
to fall back on; and without other parts of the
economy able to pick up the slack; Britain was too
exposed when the global crisis came.
That is the part of the story of the crisis that needs
to be better understood and addressed and it is

the part that is being ignored and in danger of being

Now the Tories have talked a good game on this
over the last few years.
Not every job theyve created has been a zerohours contract and some of their measures have
stimulated growth.
So where they do get things right, lets be big
enough to say so.
But they have singularly failed to make good their
promise of a March of the Makers.
Productivity has fallen on their watch.
Investment by business has been stagnant.
Lending to businesses has plummeted.

Some of that is down to mistakes by the Coalition,

such as cutting capital allowances for plant and
machinery in their first Budget and axing the
Regional Development Agencies.
But these individual errors stem from a bigger
failure to establish a coherent and consistent plan
for Britains industry.
That is what we will develop in partnership with
A plan that shows how Britain can pay its way not
just today but in twenty years time.
A plan that means, when people in Leigh ask me
what jobs their sons and daughters will be doing in
30 years time, we can them give real answers.
A plan for public and private investment in R&D, in
new technologies and in emerging sectors; to
increase the availability of finance, so the dynamism

of our start-up culture can flourish into a mid-sized

company backbone for the British economy; to
support those strategically important industries
that are so vital for building on our manufacturing
base outside London.
And a plan that sends an unequivocal message
about Britain - the best country in the world to start
a new business.

Whenever I meet new businesses in Leigh, young

people who are just starting up, they often tell me
how business rates are a massive barrier to their
survival in the early days.

And when I meet people who have built their

businesses up into larger concerns, they say that
the tax system provides an incentive for a quick
sale, rather than growth and developing the
business further.

We have got to put these things right, stop shorttermism and get our business culture right.

So I will soon be announcing details of an expert

panel who will advise Rachel and I on whether we
can rebalance our tax system, taking taxes off
companies in the early days and off those
companies with plans for growth, sending the
loudest of signals to young people that starting a
business is something that everyone can aspire to

That message needs to be hard-wired into schools

and the curriculum too as part of a plan to make
sure every young person has something to aim for
at the end of school.

How many young people leave school today

thinking that starting a business is something that
they could do?

Not enough.

In fact, too many leave school without much hope at

By judging schools on just 5 GCSEs, we risk
neglecting the life chances of children who want to
pursue a vocational route.
Later in this campaign, I will set out my plans for
schools to help all children get on and meet the
needs of todays economy.
All young people should have something to aim for
at 18: university or an apprenticeship.
And to lift the ambitions of those young people who
want to pursue a vocational route, and the status
and prestige of their choices, I will set out my plan
for a UCAS-style system for apprenticeships and
extension of the student finance system to them so
that they can be supported to move to sought-after
apprenticeships just as university students are.

This is what I mean by Labour helping everyone to

get on.
But providing high-quality apprenticeships in all
parts of the country will only happen if we have a
better approach to infrastructure; an approach that
supports sustainable growth, drives productivity and
helps build economic strength beyond London as
well as in London.
For too long successive governments have ducked
and delayed the vital decisions we need to take for
the long-term.
In the last Parliament, Labour committed to
establishing an independent National Infrastructure
Commission in order to stop long-term decisions
being kicked into the long grass and this kind of
approach surely remains the right one.

A critical but politically difficult decision affecting UK

PLC in this Parliament is over aviation capacity.
More airport capacity is vital to Britains economic
It connects our businesses directly to the growing
economies around the world, and it ensures that the
UK remains in the top flight of places to do
Aviation demand will increase significantly in the
decades to come, with major South East airports
set to reach full capacity.
If we are to maintain the UKs status as Europes
most important aviation hub then we need action
and most of all, a decision.
When Sir Howard Davies publishes his report next
month after years of painstaking analysis and
debate on where new airport capacity should be,
we should act.

Of course, it is essential that we meet our

obligations on climate change, minimise local and
environmental impacts and show how the benefits
of expansion will be felt in every corner of the
But, as long as those things can be done, we must
grasp the nettle and get on with the job.
There can be no more kicking this into the longgrass. This is what gets politicians a bad name with
business. A quick and final decision needs to be
taken for Britains long-term future.
Lets take that decision and make it work for the
whole of the UK, so that Manchester, Liverpool,
Leeds, Glasgow, Newcastle and Aberdeen benefit.

I want to finish with another area where clarity,

courage and leadership will be essential.

The biggest decision facing our country right now is

over our relationship with the European Union.

There are enormous economic and strategic

benefits of being in the EU.

But it also says something about the kind of country

we want to be an outward-looking, confident

And yet we are slowly becoming more divided,

more inward-looking, more isolated from our
European partners.

There is a real danger that, over the next five years,

the business of government will be dominated by
the same damaging divisions on the EU that
plagued John Majors government after 1992
leaving the Conservatives unable to represent the
national interest.

Already there are a number of Cabinet ministers

openly talking of voting to leave a nod and a wink
to Party Eurosceptics but also a damaging signal
that will not have gone unnoticed by our European

The longer questions hang over Britains future in

the EU, the more business investment that will be
delayed and the greater the trouble it spells for our

Labour has offered support for the new EU

referendum legislation and that it should pass
without any great delay or difficulty.

In return, I call on David Cameron to remove the

uncertainty and set a date of Autumn 2016 for the

Taking the debate without delay is clearly in the best

interests of British business, as the Governor of the
Bank of England has said, and it will give focus and
urgency to the renegotiation discussions.

The government should capitalise now on the

unprecedented level of support for reform across
the EU.

Instead of always blaming the EU lets make it

work for us. Lets lead this debate, and not let the
personal agendas of some in the Conservative
Party get us bogged down in a them vs us
argument with our European partners.

Otherwise we risk two and a half years of business

uncertainty and two years of government infighting
over Europe, distracting from the real challenges
facing our country.

I will vote to stay in a reformed EU but I am no

advocate of the status quo.
We need to see real reform of the way the
immigration rules operate, to address the real
concerns we heard on doorsteps at the Election.

Labour under my leadership will continue to support

free movement. But freedom to work is not the
same as freedom to claim.

So I will hold Mr Cameron to account to deliver a

package of reform that meets public concern.

Because, if he fails to deliver, he risks allowing

Britain to sleepwalk to the EU exit door. And we
know there are many in his Party who wont hesitate
to shove us through.

I wont let the Conservative Party put their own

interests before the country.

I am proudly pro-European and, on this crucial

issue for business, I am ready to provide the
leadership that you need.

I hope you get the sense from what I have said

today that I am a man on a mission, with a clear
sense of what I want to achieve.
I want to give business and the country a Labour
Party that people can relate to and believe in.
That talks their language, that celebrates the spirit
of enterprise, that helps all people to get on.
A strong Labour voice that will help hold us
together, maintain our place in Europe and guide
the country through the uncertain times in which we
now live.
If what I have said makes sense to you, then please
consider getting behind my campaign.
Because politics is changing fast and business has
no time to lose.
Thank you very much for listening.