Tuesday 11 April 2017

Jeremy Corbyn's new small business policy is actually really good

Jeremy Corbyn's latest new policy proposal to defend small businesses from late payments by major corporations is a real winner. It's precisely the kind of business-friendly policy a lot of people have been saying that Labour should have been promoting for a long time.

In order to clearly differentiate themselves from the Conservatives Labour need to position themselves on the side of ordinary workers and small businesses. The £10 minimum wage is clearly a worker-friendly policy, and this new policy of cracking down on the late payment of suppliers by massive corporations is a great strategy to get small and medium sized enterprises onside.

In order to raise awareness of how bad the problem of late payment of suppliers is, Corbyn named and shamed several major companies over their refusal to pay their suppliers in a timely manner, accusing them of taking interest-free cash loans from their suppliers:

National Grid pays suppliers 119 days over terms, BT pays 89 days late, Vodafone pays 84 days late, Capita 82 days late, E-on pays 78 days late, and Marks and Spencer 72 days.

When the terms themselves allow 45 or 60 days for payment, it's clear that these major corporations are using their buying power in order to extract interest-free loans from their suppliers for up to six months at a whack.

Major corporations are withholding an astounding £26 billion through late payment, which is responsible for an estimated 50,000 small businesses going bust every year. The scale of this problem is so massive that it should be a national scandal, and Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right to align himself with small businesses to defend their interests.

Clamping down on late payment of suppliers is a cracking policy initiative because pretty much nobody could oppose it other than shills for greedy major corporations. If the Tories are going to oppose it then it puts them in the difficult position of having to defend the indefensible.

The policy was well received at the Federation of Small Businesses where it was announced, and even the mainstream press struggled to find some ultra-negative spin to put on it.

The best anti-Corbyn spin the mainstream media hacks could come up with was a load of coordinated whinging that Corbyn refused to answer a BBC journalist's question on Syria right in the middle of the FSB event. However the actual footage made it clear that Corbyn agreed to answer the Syria questions after the small business event, and that he got a round of applause for standing his ground from the small business people in the audience.

Any Labour Party member must hope that even the Labour party right-wingers would get behind this particular policy, because if Labour are to have any hope in the future (with or without Corbyn as leader) they're going to need to get small businesses and independent traders on their side. 

Unfortunately a lot of Labour Party right-wingers, including Blair himself, have made it absolutely clear that the long-term future of the Labour Party is secondary to their main objective of damaging Corbyn's leadership as much as possible.

It's unlikely Corbyn's new policy to protect small businesses from the outright greed of major corporations will get a fair hearing in the mainstream press, especially if the Labour Party right-wingers decide to attack him from within rather than support a business-friendly policy they would no doubt be cheering about under any other leader. This means that it's up to ordinary Labour Party members who approve of the policy to spread awareness of it as far as possible, by sharing coverage of it on social media, and more importantly talking about it in real conversations, especially with people who don't really engage with social media.

Read Corbyn's full speech to the Federation of Small Businesses here

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