The Labour Party have argued that necessary, albeit seemingly minor, economic adjustments have to be made in order to tackle growing inequality. Such adjustments, it appears, pose a threat to those who ostensibly profit from that inequality. That's why, in recent weeks, representatives of Boots, Marks and Spencers and other big name retailers have attacked the Labour Party - assumedly favouring Conservatives. Labour, under a more traditional left-wing leadership, can't compete with the Tories on this terrain. Big businesses will inexorably support the Conservatives, as Cameron and Osborne can make promises that core Labour voters simply won't tolerate: tax-cuts for higher earners, lower corporation taxes, rampant deregulation and so on.
The Tories are the safe choice for those at the top of our society. The Conservative's programme of privatization, deregulation and lower taxes will always beguile big business. The idea that the growth of large companies leads to a wider expansion of our economy - supposedly creating jobs, ensuring better wages and thus a higher tax revenue - is a convenient ideological stance for representatives of the business community. They seem to believe that the so-called 'free market' system is not only beneficial to them, but will also bring wider prosperity to the general population. This brand of macroeconomic thought, however, is not the success story that many in the business community - and the right more generally - felicitously believe it to be.
Lower wages due to unrestricted competition, less job security due to deregulation, decreasing state revenue due to lower taxes, growing inequality due to the uneven distribution of wealth and, of course, economic instability are all potential results of this brand of macroeconomics. Thus while there has been noted 'booms' brought about by an adherence to the free market, we shouldn't forget that these booms are ephemeral and can often end in disaster. An example of this disaster, of course, is the 2008 great recession.
Across the West, from the early 80s leading up to the crash, an emphasis was placed on privatization, deregulation - particularly in the banking sector - and lower taxation. This led to an increasingly unstable economy that, in hindsight, was destined to fail. A similar economic programme was adopted, lest we forget, during the 1920s. That period also saw deregulation and the lowering of taxes on a mass scale, leading to the boom of the 'roaring' twenties and, consequently, the bust of 1929.
The 2008 economic crash, unlike the Great Depression, saw a massive increase in inequality alongside growing prosperity for those at the top. When the economy failed, businesses were bailed out and working people had to foot the bill in the form of widespread austerity. Our services were cut back after the great recession, while big businesses received state hand-outs and saw a reduction in their taxes. The brand of laissez-faire capitalism that led to the economic crash was adopted in a more brutal form as an ostensible solution to the crash itself. We essentially decided that the best medicine to heal us from consuming poison was a hell of a lot more poison. The business community for the most part welcomed, even praised, this solution. They continue, as we've seen in the past week or so, to do just that.
We can't escape the fact that business representatives have a great responsibility within our current political framework. Big businesses are extremely important: they create jobs, stimulate economic growth and attract wealth. We must consider the motives of these representatives, however, when they make claims about parties that favour more left-wing economic programmes. When representatives of the big business community suggest that a Labour victory would be 'catastrophic' for Britain, we must take into account the fact that Labour's victory might mean a reduction in their profit margins. For the general public, however, a vote for Labour could see an increase of the minimum wage; greater tax revenue drawn from higher earners and corporations; the banishment of zero-hour contracts; and a crackdown on tax avoidance. This is terrible news for big businesses, but welcome news to many Britons. What's good for big business, therefore, is not necessarily good for us.
Thus, when a Monaco-based representative of Boots - a tax avoiding company - attacks a centre-left political party, we should question the motive. To interpret recent condemnations from the business community as somehow emblematic of Labour's inability to run our economy is utterly irresponsible. The business community are given an important voice within British political discourse and, while they should be listened to, we have to remember that they have a great deal to gain from the continuation of free market economics. To reap the greatest benefits for the majority of Britons we can't simply accept the economic ideology of the richest, most profitable sectors of our economy. They will always support lower taxes and less regulation, and adherence to this form of economics, as recent history has shown, is not a healthy way to sustain an economy.