Ed Miliband’s approach to seducing business is a little confusing. One minute he’s playing hard to get, insulting them and threatening higher taxes, the next he’s clinging to their ankles, wailing that he just wants to be loved.
Today he spoke at the Federation of Small Business, pretending he loves exactly the same things as them. There are a number of classic lines in his speech, but the most jaw-dropping is this:
“The Labour Party has always stood up for working people.”
Was it when they hiked benefits so that it was possible to earn more doing nothing than others earned at work?
Was it when they opposed the benefit reforms necessary to set that injustice right?
Was it when they doubled tax for low earners by abolishing the 10p rate?
Was it when they mounted a huge tax raid on people’s hard-earned pensions?
Was it when they hiked employers’ National Insurance, the tax on jobs?
Was it when they introduced 157 stealth taxes in 8 years?
Was it when they deliberately trapped millions of people in higher income tax and stamp duty bands through fiscal drag?
Or was it when they overspent so badly that despite raising taxes, millions of workers who aren’t even born will start their lives bearing a huge debt burden?
Miliband seems to think evidence-free declarations can make up for decades of harmful action against small businesses and working people.
Two days ago the RSA revealed new polling that shows only 10 per cent of microbusiness owners (people with 9 or fewer employees) believe Labour has the best policies for their company. By contrast, 46 per cent named the Conservatives as the party with the best policies.
Given that these are the 4.7 million small enterprises which are essential to the recovery, Ed Miliband might be wise to lecture them a little less, and listen to them a little more.