Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Business shouldn't fear a reformist government, but investors might...

A story in Today's Guardian, and particularly its headline, illustrates perfectly how the word "business" has become co-opted by the rich and powerful, so it no longer means what it ought to mean.

The story relates to a report from investment bank Morgan Stanley about future prospects for investors in the UK economy. The Guardian headlined it as follows: Corbyn becoming PM is 'worse threat to business than Brexit', says bank.

What the report actually says is that investors - particularly international investors - may get lower returns under a Labour government. A key quote is as follows:

“Spending priorities... shift in favour of low-income households and the public sector and away from outsourcers and defence companies.”

If that's not good news, I don't know what is. The idea that "business" would object to it perpetuates a myth that wealth-creators and actual people are different categories with different interests. That myth has arisen because of the lazy way in which "investment" and "wealth-creation" have become conflated in the language of politicians and headline writers.

Wealth-creation requires the hard work and ingenuity of real people. Most businesses are small, often family-based firms, the interests of which closely coincide with the people who work for them and the communities in which they reside. Investors, on the other hand, are people and institutions who don't create new wealth but use what they already have to cream off a share of the new wealth created by others.

It's not business that is threatened by a government that would prioritise public services and poverty pay. It's the global rich, who want to get richer. That's what the headline should say.

Image credit: Jeremy Corbyn PMQs by David Holt is licensed under CC BY 2.0