Chuka Umunna made his first flagship speech as shadow business secretary this morning at Bloomberg HQ in the City.
He was asked again about the “predator-producer” distinction made by Ed Miliband in his conference speech in late September. (You may remember that the Labour leader was criticised for the simplicity of his argument.)
This is one policy where the Labour leadership appear to be in retreat, according to notes made from today’s Q&A by Rob Hutton of Bloomberg.
Chuka: But you’re seeking to do precisely what I’ve been trying to explain to you that we’re not seeking to do and the speech wasn’t seeking to do that either, which is to pick certain companies and say that’s good or bad or for you to use the ‘producer predator’ label that you’re using. Just to go back…
Bloomberg: It’s not mine. I didn’t come up with it.
Chuka: What I would say to you is this, look, what do we need and what are we seeking to do. We need to reform our economy so we have a new economy that is producing better and fairer outcomes for people in the way I described….
(To rewind to Labour conference, what Miliband’s speech said was: “Are you on the side of the wealth creators or the asset strippers? The producers or the predators?” Aides further simplified matters in a pre-briefing by saying Labour would help ‘good’ companies and punish ‘bad’ ones.)
I’m now told that senior Labour figures are not using the words “producer” or “predator” anymore; instead the done thing is to criticise companies when they behave in “predatory” ways and praise them when they act constructively.