Like a new generation today, I grew up under a Tory administration and saw the carnage wrought upon british business by neo-liberal economic dogma. The experience radicalised me but also encouraged me to trust to hard work and to make the most of State education as the means whereby a working-class kid could aspire to achieve better.
I worked hard – probably too hard – and qualified as a chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser in 1993.
Then, in 2004, I established my own accountancy practice which has thrived ever since.
The latter date is important because we were mid-way through a period of economic growth stewarded by the then-Labour Government; a period of growth made possible by Government support. Gordon brown’s economic policies helped small businesses to start up and to grow with substantial reductions in the small companies’ rate of corporation tax and by very generous tax allowances for capital investment. There were also very many business bodies – which Justin Tomlinson would no doubt dismiss as “quangos” – that were there to provide guidance and support. It was a good period for small businesses and a perfect example of how the State can foster enterprise.
Unfortunately, history operates in circles and 2010 saw the return of laissez-faire economic policies to the detriment of small businesses in general and the country in particular. Tory Finance Acts in 2010 and 2011 have been most damaging to small enterprise which is having to deal with the claw-back of allowances and a ruinous hike in VAT.
This was why, as a Socialist and as a small businessman, I was greatly cheered by Ed Miliband’s speech at Liverpool. It signaled a move forward to better times whereby hard work is properly rewarded. Unfortunately, this message has been intentionally warped by vested interests such as those of Lord Digby Jones and other proponents of feral Capitalism whilst ignoring the welcome accorded by the more representative Federation of Small business.
Let us be clear here: the budget deficit will only be closed by economic growth and growth will only come through the fostering of small businesses – not by allowing the robber barons of big business an unfettered hand in looting our economy. And that is why small business should cheer Ed Miliband’s speech as the beginning of something better.