As Labour concludes its annual party conference in Liverpool, Tom Frackowiak Partner and Head of the WA Financial & Professional Services practice outlines his five takeaways for business:
Five takeaways from Labour conference in Liverpool:
1. Conference momentum: Labour will be ecstatic with how the conference in Liverpool went! A record number of attendees, speeches from the Leader and Shadow Chancellor that landed a narrative focused on “national renewal” and rebuilding Britian, packed fringe events and receptions. The business community also turned up en masse to listen and engage with Labour’s vision for the UK economy. As one Shadow Minster said to me slightly tongue in cheek, “we are now the party of business”; having been in Liverpool it is hard to argue with that assertion.
2. Labour engagement will be difficult: Businesses in Liverpool were highly complementary of the efforts made by the Labour team to engage with their sectors, but many still struggle to secure individual meetings with Shadow Minsters and their advisers to have more detailed discussions on policy direction. Again, looking at the number of businesses in attendance in Liverpool this is unsurprising. Clear thought and consideration need to be given to how you achieve cut through! How is your business essential to Labour’s programme for Government?
3. So, listen to the words from conference: To get cut through, business need to show how they will help a Labour Government “build”, “invest”, “innovate” and deliver a “new direction for skills”. With aspirations to be a “Mission Government” how does your businesses corporate agenda align with Labour’s five national missions? Can this be framed in the short, medium, and long-term?
4. Still a lot of policy detail missing: While Labour has set out an overarching vision for Government there is still a lot of detail that businesses to hear for planning and investment decisions. Currently Labour’s ‘national wealth fund’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting for its economic vision for the UK economy. In sectors like financial and professional services – which only has four paragraphs in the final 112-page National Policy Forum paper – there is an eagerness and anticipation to know more.
5. Labour haven’t won the General Election: While clearly momentum is with Labour and national polling gives the Party a consistent double-digit lead over the Conservatives, there may still be over a year to go until a General Election. While there is a clamor from business to get to know Labour the General Election results of 2015 and 2019, plus EU Referendum should be a warning that election results can often ‘surprise’. Any strategic approach to advocacy and engagement should adopt a holistic or multi-stakeholder approach.