Wednesday, April 27

Which Way For Busisness ?

The Labour, Conservative and LibDems have all unveiled their manifesto's for the business community with the clear aim of winning over the business voter.

The Tories Action for Business states 10 key points to help firms on issues such as deregulation, skills and lower taxes.

Outlining their commitments, the Conservatives promise a streamlined Department for Trade and Industry, making it the voice of businesses and not regulation; to regularly review regulation; address the skills shortage by creating vocational Super Colleges and abolishing the Learning and Skills Council.

The Conservatives have also pledged to simply the tax system; take action on business crime, support science and technology research - from class room to the laboratory; promote free and fair trade with poorer countries while helping British exports.

The Tories warn that Labour has cost British business almost £ 40 billion in new regulations and that businesses are now paying out more under National Insurance than ever before and will pay out more if Labour win on 5 May. A point that Chris Willamson who proposed a motion condemning the last hike in National Insurance contributions at the 2003 Federation of Small Business (FSB) Conference. Chris commented '' I am convinced that Labour will yet again increase employer NI payments. which together with now very high fuel charges impact on small businesses.

Chris knows all about small businesses both her and her family have been 'in business' all their working lives. Chris' motion at the Brighton Conference made history in the Federation of Small Businesses; the motion was accepted unanimously by the voting delegates. That had not happened in the 29 years of the existence of the FSB. It remain a unique achievement, Chris, frustrated at the ineffectiveness of the FSB has now ceased to be a activist. '' I get more results playing Golf, than trying to get the FSB to play ball, clearly they are stuck in a bunker and have no idea how to get out of it. Chris, who has represented England at Golf Internationals on a number of occasions likes using sporting analogies.

Anyway what of the Lib Dems, well they would abolish the DTI completely assuming that would remove vast amounts of regulation. Well that's a bit like the weapons of mass destruction issue they get so upset about. The mass regulation factory that causes mass destruction to the UK's business community is not located in this country; there is no need for a public inquiry to seek its true location.

In a further attempt to attract the business vote the Lib Dems state that they would have independent impact assessments on each piece of regulation; promote small business by cutting rates and reforming regional development agencies to focus on this sector; close the skills gaps particularly by giving under 25's statutory time off for training. They also add interestingly that they would ensure a referendum on joining the Euro.

The LibDem's party spokesman Lord Newbury said that businesses are being held back under a ''mountain of government rules, tax complications, bureaucracy and inspection'' he added ''they don't need civil servants meddling, the Lib Dems understand this because we are instinctively a pro-business party.''

As for Labour, the Chancellor stressed his commitment to ''enhance stability'' and avoid a repeat of the boom-and-bust economic cycle where Britain was ''first in, worst hit and last out''.

Under questioning, Gordon Brown admitted the Government should have cut back on the inspections burden of businesses saying: ''We should have done it before now.''

The last word should go to Mr Howard only because it shows that he has identified the correct question but not yet understood the only possible answer to removing the real barrier to business growth in the UK.

Howard said on Monday:
'' I don't want the British economy to follow the European model. Labour for all their fine words do. I want Britain to change direction.''
Yes Mr Howard, the direction is the road out of the European Union; it is on the Map but it is not the by-pass sign posted renegotiation (that's a dead-end) the route is marked self government this way.

Perhaps some business people should erect some big directional signs.

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