Mike Craven is partner at Lexington Communications which sponsored this week’s ConservativeHome event on the Coalition two years on: ‘back to growth’. The business/political audience heard from Tesco’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Lucy Neville-Rolfe; Joe Greenwell, chairman of Ford in Britain; Business Minister Mark Prisk MP, Paul Goodman, and Elizabeth Truss MP. The event was chaired by Damian Collins MP.
Elizabeth Truss told Tuesday night’s ConservativeHome panel discussion that the free market is less popular in the UK than it is in China, Suspicion of free markets has undoubtedly grown in Europe since the financial crash (although voters are none too keen on the state either).
Politicians react to the public mood but it poses difficult issues for business. Tesco director Lucy Neville-Rolfe told of how on a trade delegation to China, a senior minister was superb in extolling the virtues of British enterprise and companies to his Chinese audience in a way that he would never do to a British one.
So business feels unsupported and ministers complain that companies are sitting on piles of cash which they decline to invest.
Yet beyond a slight tetchiness, ministers know they depend on business to deliver growth and companies broadly support a lot of what the government is doing. Ford’s Joe Greenwell applauded moves to rebalance the economy, the focus on manufacturing, foreign direct investment, tax competitiveness, apprenticeships and research and development tax credits.