'We need a growing and dynamic economy' - Jon Trickett MP
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP and Shadow Business Secretary Jon Trickett MP joined Adam Marshall from the British Chamber of Commerce & Tom Clarke, editor of Prospect magazine to discuss the future of Labour's economic policy at a reception at Labour party conference in Liverpool.
Prospect hosted the event in Revolution Bar on the quayside last night – featuring the self proclaimed “double act” (“more recognisable to Jeremy Corbyn than Ant and Dec”) John McDonnell and Jon Trickett as well as the British Chamber of Commerce's Adam Marshall and Prospect’s editor Tom Clarke.
The room was packed as the set of speakers discussed Labour’s position on the UK economy. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) was one of many business organisations to co-host the event.
Deciphering where Labour policy should stand on the economy was the key topic. John McDonnell said he had met many economic institutes which had been an “extremely creative and constructive” process. The Shadow Chancellor said he believed he and they were on the “same page” but stressed the need to “create an economical agenda” with a “sense of urgency” going forward.
Shadow Business Secretary Mr Trickett said the Labour party want to work “closely with businesses and wealth creators”. He said this country needs a “growing and dynamic economy”. He argued for that to happen there needs to be an “active industrial strategy” and the economy must be built from the “bottom up”.
Mr Trickett laid out three areas in which he thinks there are imbalances. One is the way labour is rewarded, he said wages haven’t moved since the financial crash and that could cause problems. Another is sector imbalances and the final one is the imbalance in different parts of the country. “Large swathes of the country aren’t doing as well as others - Investment in London not matched by investment elsewhere.”
Mr McDonnell referenced the internal political problems of the Labour leadership as a “bit of a distraction” over the last few months, adding later that it had been an “eventful year”. But going forward he said he believed the party should put together its economic policies over the next few months.
He added that this needed to happen as a matter of urgency because he did not trust the Conservative leaders not to hold a general election in the next year.
Mr Cruddas urged people to help create Labour’s policies, saying he does not want policies to be MPs prescribing policies like “tablets to stone”.
He said he wants input and ideas from businesses, “what questions should the party be asking?”
Mr Marshall, speaking about the need for Labour to be clear about their policies, argued that “Businesses wants a strong opposition as well as a strong government”.
He called for “stability, clarity and action”, adding “together we can deliver the successful economy.”
Speaking about the EU referendum, Mr McDonnell argued that voters were put off the debate by the “level of exaggeration”.
But in the aftermath of the vote to leave, he said his “red lines” were access to the single market and workers’ rights.
Mr Marshall spoke about the importance for the 3 million EU nationals to get guarantees that they will be allowed to stay in the country, “they are absolutely desperate”.