We’ve observed here before that Ed Miliband makes all the right noises about the importance of entrepreneurship but does not exactly exude familiarity with the concept.
Alex Smith, a former aide to Miliband, has already garnered some attention this morning for his article calling for the Labour leadership to hammer home the pro-business message.
Here is an extract from LabourList: it’s not quite as one-sided as you might think – and includes a warning about how the party has, in the past, been a bit too keen to get close to tycoons. But Smith’s suggestion that Miliband needs to “learn” how to “truly understand” business is telling.
Looking back, it’s easy to see why Peter Mandelson’s tongue got the better of him when he said he was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich…as long as they pay their taxes”. We have at times been too close to big business, during the past two decades in particular. Cash for peerages, ‘Hoongate’ and other scandals have entrenched the perception that some in the Labour Party are obsessed with their own wealth creation at the expense of social justice.
But that does not mean that we shouldn’t be serious about enterprise as we look to the future. As Ed Miliband considers what the Labour Party should stand for under his leadership, and how the party defines its mission in the post-recessionary age, it is vital that he places enterprise at the very core of that thinking, and at the very heart of what our movement represents. Just paying lip service to business is not enough: Miliband must immerse himself in enterprise, and learn to truly understand and value it.