Letter: Is radicalism not Labour's business?

Guardian (UK) |

In your front-page story, once again the business community is demanding more favours and accusing Labour of a swing to the left (Labour offers olive branch to business, 30 June). Since Mrs Thatcher, the top rate of tax has halved, corporation tax has come down to several points below the much more successful German economy and our union laws are now among the weakest in western Europe. But how have the businessmen of Britain responded? Well, GDP growth per year, averaged out at the end of each decade, comes out at about the same rate as for the last 50 years, our balance of payments went massively into deficit after a few years of Mrs Thatcher and gets worse by the year, unemployment has tripled since 1980 according to the ONS and the inequality index has gone off the radar. We're constantly told we must attract inward investment. We're the seventh richest country in the world - don't we have our own investment? Is the model useless, or the businessmen, or a mixture of the two? This problem is plainly bigger than the CBI's predictable whingeing about even more supply-side measures. David Redshaw Gravesend, Kent * It's sadly predictable that some leading Labour figures should be caught up in a discussion of who is blocking the road to reform, while it's left to unions to be raising concerns about central government waste and private contractor failure (page 2), and the developing crisis in the NHS (page 4). Meanwhile, former Labour ministers attract attention to Prince Charles's past penchant for lobbying them on his pet projects, and Ed Balls wastes time berating Cameron on EU matters (page 4). The clock is ticking towards the general election and it looks like many of the shadow cabinet have taken an early summer holiday, to avoid the crowds. Les Bright Exeter, Devon * Listening to Ed Balls declaring his intention to run the railways on non-ideological lines (Beware the dead hand, 30 June), it became clear he is not simply guilty of "parking" good ideas but that he does not have any of his own. He seems to think public ownership would mean only a return to the centralised management systems of former British Rail and that the only alternative therefore is a continuation of competitive franchising "with a level playing field". He should read Paul Salveson's excellent Railpolitik (2013), which demonstrates with expertise and imagination how various forms of social ownership could be combined. It was rightly acclaimed by Maria Eagle, formerly shadow transport secretary, as setting out "an alternative vision for the future" to be read by any serious politician; but she was moved to environment, while Ed Balls's "dead hand" could not have been more clearly displayed. David Parker Meltham, West Yorkshire * I was astounded to read your editorial (30 June), in which you refer to John Armitt, Mike Wright, Michael Lyons and Richard Leese as "having done something or other a long way from Westminster". This quite extraordinarily dismissive manner of referring to men who, whatever your opinion as to their individual careers, have manifestly made long and honourable contributions to civic governance and public service over many years (and largely outside the Westminster bubble, which you elsewhere profess to deplore) deserves an apology and explanation. Sue Dalley Malvern, Worcestershire * Rafael Behr (Comment, 2 July) says the Labour party doesn't know what radicalism is. It does know but, like the government, it rejects radicalism. Any party which wants to keep public sector pay frozen and retain the caps on benefits is against the interests of the working class. I am voting for independence in Scotland not just to be free from Cameron and Osborne but also from Miliband and Balls. Bob Holman Glasgow * "Labour offers olive branch to business." That's the first thing that greets me in the Guardian. Reading on, I find that this is gleefully greeted by a crowing director of the CBI. After years as a union activist in "business", I spent the last few years of my working life as a lecturer in a "business school". I never had any doubt that the vast majority of people engaged in "business" are not the exploiters but the exploited. I would hope that a Labour party led by Ralph Miliband's son would recognise that, and be committed to ending the capitalist racket once and for all. Alan Harrison Walsall, West Midlands * "Labour offers olive branch to business." What's new? "Business offers olive branch to labour." Now that would have been worth the ink. Terry McGinn Barrowford, Lancashire

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