Welcome to our socialist utopia 

We’re steadily ticking off the elections in this year of democracy, with, at the time of writing, President Macron largely having seen off the right in a play which may not have gone wholly to plan, but, bar the shouting, was a decent bit of bluff calling. And with summer very much here, one cannot imagine the shouting lasting interminably. 

Meanwhile in the UK we are settling into the first full week of our socialist utopia and wondering what, other than a free bust of Lenin for every mantlepiece, we’ll be looking forward to.

There are many, many things that we want, but as we have learned over the years, I want doesn’t get. There’s no money for VAT cuts or the other obsessions of hospitality, but there are high hopes of planning changes and revisions to business rates. 

Kate Nicholls, CEO, UK Hospitality, said: “Just a few weeks ago, Sir Keir Starmer addressed our summer conference in a video message in which he recognised the importance of our sector as one that creates places where people want to live, work and invest.

“That recognition extended into policy commitments, with UKHospitality securing two key pledges in the Labour Party manifesto.

“We were delighted to see a promise to replace the broken business rates system and reduce the burden on hospitality businesses, which pay three times their fair share of rates as a proportion of turnover.

“With a cliff-edge looming in April, when relief is set to end and rates due to increase, this needs to be addressed in the first 100 days. This can be done easily through the introduction of a permanently reduced multiplier for hospitality and tourism, at a rate of 30p in the pound.

“The second is the commitment to reform the Apprenticeship Levy. Introducing more flexibility, through the planned Growth and Skills Levy, would transform the way we are able to invest in skills.

“Crucially, reform would free up funds to permanently rollout our skills pilot scheme, which we successfully ran with the Department for Work and Pensions and training partners, to help people currently out of work into jobs in hospitality.”

Carl Phillips, director, BVA BDRC, commented: “The leading issues the new government must address are energy prices, inflation, and interest rates, according to our Business Opinion Omnibus survey of 1,200 business financial decision-makers.

“Looking ahead, the ongoing impact of Brexit and EU trade, along with tax levels, are also areas that businesses want to the incoming leadership to focus on. However, as Labour has not committed to re-opening the Brexit debate, I suspect many business leaders across the country are going to be disappointed.

“Further down the line, there are several interlinked employment-based issues – wages, skills, and labour shortages – that, if combined, would feature in the top priorities. Labour has certainly committed time to labour reforms, but whether wages will rise (especially those of government employees) is yet to be seen.”

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI CEO, said: “The new Prime Minister has been given a clear mandate to take the tough decisions on areas like planning reform and boosting grid capacity needed to get the economy firing on all cylinders. What firms need now is a government that’s ready to hit the ground running and is laser-focused on delivery.

“Households and businesses across the UK have shown incredible resilience through Brexit, Covid and war in Europe. With the economy picking up steam, now is the moment to get behind growth. Setting out a positive vision for the UK economy and leaning into our international leadership should be top priorities for the first 100 days.

“Building a partnership for prosperity between government and business holds the key to unlocking a revitalised pitch to global investors. By working with business, the new government can deploy the capability and capacity of industry to deliver the connected transitions across net zero, the digital economy, and the future of work needed to put the economy on a pathway to sustainable growth.”

That’s “working with business” not “fuck business”, as we had a few PMs ago. 

Want we want most of all is to not think about politics. Remember the first couple of years of President Biden? A soothing quiet. Things were done. Some good. Some less good. But there were no dramas, no kids locked in cages, no sudden doubling of mortgage payments, just a bumbling along in the background. That’s all gone to nuts now, of course, and Starmer can look forward to some rabid mentalism from the right as the next UK election approaches, no doubt, but for now, a soothing calm. 

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