Election 24

121 executives back Labour’s plan for economy

Benny Higgins at an event with Nicola Sturgeon in February 2018 (pic: Terry Murden)

More than 120 senior business leaders have backed the Labour Party, saying the economy has been “beset by instability, stagnation and a lack of long-term focus”.

The 121 senior executives have signed a letter in a personal capacity which is seen as a sea-change in business opinion following months of lobbying by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Among those who have signed up are Benny Higgins, former CEO of Tesco Bank, Phil Chambers, CEO of space company Orbex, and Andrew Higginson, chairman of high street retailer JD Sports Fashion.

Mr Higgins was an adviser to the SNP and wrote the blueprint for the Scottish National Investment Bank and chair of the Scottish Government’s post-Covid Advisory Group on Economic Recovery. He has lately been advising Labour after being hired by Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Jonathan Reynolds to work on an “independent detailed survey of business opinions in Scotland.“

The letter states that the Labour Party “has shown it has changed and wants to work with business to achieve the UK’s full economic potential.” 

The signatories say Labour should be given the chance “to change the country and lead Britain into the future.”

The letter comes a day after the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce warns that the incoming government has 100 days to save 100,000 jobs by reversing what are regarded as damaging policies towards the North Sea oil and gas sector.

The Chamber says energy companies will switch their investment elsewhere unless there is a change of strategy. Labour is committed to using the proceeds of a windfall tax to help finance its plans for Great British Energy which it will invest in renewables. It also says it will not allow new exploration licences.

The chamber has been accused of scaremongering. Paul Brindley, an energy consultant, said: “100 days to save the Industry? What a load of nonsense. What happens in 100 days then – does everything get shutdown, everyone get laid off?

“This sort of ‘the sky is falling’ stuff does no one any credit and undermines the storyline. Things will continue one way or another – they always will.”

Full text of the letter from 120 business executives:

We, as leaders and investors in British business, believe that it is time for a change. For too long now, our economy has been beset by instability, stagnation, and a lack of long-term focus. 

The United Kingdom has the potential to be one of the strongest economies in the world. A lack of political stability and the absence of consistent economic strategy has held it back. The country has been denied the skills and infrastructure it needs to flourish. 

We are looking for a government that will partner fiscal discipline with a long-term growth strategy, working in partnership with the private sector to drive innovation and investment to build digital and physical capital and fix our skills system. This is the only way to put us on track for sustained productivity growth.

Labour has shown it has changed and wants to work with business to achieve the UK’s full economic potential. We should now give it the chance to change the country and lead Britain into the future. We are in urgent need of a new outlook to break free from the stagnation of the last decade and we hope by taking this public stand we might persuade others of that need too.

Signatories to letter

Tunde Adeniran, Co-founder, Lerno

Tom Adeyoola, Co-founder, Extend Ventures

Max Alexander, Former CEO, Secret Cinema

Joanne Anderson, Director, Innervision

William Anderson, Director, Barton Legal Limited

Iain Anderson, Chairman, H/Advisors Cicero 

Amul Batra, Co-Founder & Chief Partnerships Officer, Northcoders Group plc

George Bevis, CEO, CanDo

James Bielby, CEO, Federation of Wholesale Distributors 

Karen Blackett, UK President, WPP

Pete Bowyer, Director Association of International Retail

David Brindley, President, Bidpath 

Richard Burge, Former CEO, London Chamber and Commonwealth Enterprise Council

George Burn, Partner, BCLP

Hugh Campbell, Managing Partner GP Bullhound

Tony Carney, Managing Director, Huyton Asphalt Civils 

Rachel Carrell, CEO, Koru Kids

Phil Chambers, CEO Orbex

Mark Claydon, Director, Trustech Smart Healthcare Ventures Limited

David Cleevely, Former Chair, Abcam and Rasberry Pi

Rachel Coldicutt, Executive Director, Careful Trouble 

Paul Corcoran, CEO, Agent

Lou Cordwell, Founder, Magnetic

Nick Corston, Co-founder/CEO, STEAM Co. CIC

Andrew Croft. Director, Social Enterprise UK

Alasdair Croft, Managing Director, AmpEV Ltd 

Jack Curtis, Founder, Carbon Jacked

Eleanor Deeley, Joint Managing Director, Deeley Group Ltd

Alexandra Depledge, CEO, Resi 

Professor Kishan Devani BEM, Director, Dev Yogi Ltd

Philip Dewing, CEO, Unity Healthcare Recruitment

Mark Dickinson, CEO, Intrinsic Semiconductor Technologies Ltd

Anand Doobay, Partner, Boutique Law

Warren Downey, CEO, Specialist Risk Group

Sarah Drinkwater, General Partner, Common Magic

Noel Dunne, Founder & Managing Director, Creative Alliance

William Eccleshare, Chair, Inspired Thinking Group

Ben Evans, CEO, IDEA [incorporating London Design Festival, London Design Biennale, Global Design Forum]

Jane Featherstone, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Sister

Richard Flint, Investor    

Matthew Freud, Chairman, The Freuds Group

David George, CEO, Bikmo

Mark Glover, Executive Chairman, SEC Newgate UK

Jonathan Goodwin OBE, Co-founder, The Founders Forum Group and J Goodwin&Co

Neil Goulden, Chairman, Neil Goulden Consulting Ltd

Ben Govier, Owner, Dylan’s Ice Cream

Richard Greer, Chair, Asia Strategic Holdings

Helene Guillaume, Founder and CEO, wild.ai

Vikash Gupta, CEO, VAR Capital

Charles Harman, Former Vice Chairman, J.P.Morgan Cazenove

Matt Hastings, Founder and CEO, Ideaonomy

Brian Hay, CEO, The Cardinal Partnership

Benny   Higgins, Former CEO, Tesco Bank

Andrew Higginson, Chair, JD Sports Fashion plc

Tim Hincks, Co-CEO, Expectation

John Holland-Kaye, Former CEO, Heathrow

Damian Horton, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Eloy

Ryan Hudson, Founder & Creative Director, Ministry Creative

Alan Hughes, Chairman, Unity Trust Bank plc

Rupert Keeley, Director: NewDay Group; Dubai Financial Services Authority; Unzer GmbH; Team8 Fintech. Adviser: NatWest Group

Tom Kerridge, Chef, The Hand and Flowers Pub

Dan Kieran, Co-founder, Unbound

Ben Kilbey, Founder and CEO, Bold Voodoo

Stephen Kinsella, Founder, Law For Change

Jack Kirkland, Chairman, Bowmer + Kirkland

Stefan Kulik, Managing Director, Royal Mail Health

Darius Kumana, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Wrisk

Tony Langham, Founder and Non Executive Chair, Opinium

Nic Laurens, Managing Director, SEVERN Diamond Ltd

Paul Lindley, Founder, Ella’s Kitchen

Piers Linney, Co-founder, Implement AI Ltd

Sanjay Lobo, CEO, OnHand

Chris Locke, Chair, Caribou Digital

John Mahon CBE, Former Director General for Exports; former CEO of UK Infrastructure Bank Department for International Trade

Kevin McGrath, Chairman, Regional REIT plc

Kevin McKeever, Founder & Managing Director, Lowick Group

Frank McKenna, Group chair & Chief Executive, Downtown in Business Lrd

Zandra Moore, CEO, Panintelligence

Gill Morris, Executive Chair, Inflect 

Mark Mullen, Chief Executive, Atom Bank plc 

Jamie Murray, Director, PD Investments Ltd

Paul Naha-Biswas, CEO, Sixley

Rajay Naik, Chief Executive Officer, Skilled Education

Sue O’Brien OBE, Chair and Non Executive Director, Right Strategy

Lukas Oberhuber, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Hiphops.io

Amanda Owen-Meehan, Director and Founder, Amanda Owen Meehan Consulting Ltd 

Andy Palmer CMG, Former CEO, Aston Martin

Jonathan Patrick, CEO, Consultant Connect 

Janet Pope, Chair, Charities Aid Foundation Bank

Charles Randell, Former Chair, Financial Conduct Authority

Rena Rani, Director, Propel – Education Management 

Ruben Rasalingham, Chief Operating Officer, Behold.aiTechnologies Limited

Will Read, CEO, Sideways 6

Xavier Rees, Group CEO, AMV BBDO

William Reeve, CEO, Goodlord

Ben Rometsch, Co-Founder and CEO, Flagsmith

William Sargent, Executive Chair, Framestore 

Asi Sharabi, CEO, Wonderbly

Chris Simmons, Founder and Managing Director, Simtec Materials Testing Ltd

Chris Slater, Founder & CEO, Oka, The Carbon Insurance Company

Giles Slinger, Director, Fledger

Nick Smallman, CEO, Working Voices 

Stella Smith, Founder & CEO, pirkx

Mike Soutar, Chairman, Electric Gallery

Tommy Stadlen, Co-Founder, Giant Ventures

Alex Stephany, Founder & CEO, BEAM

Mark Stephenson, Managing Director, Stephenson-Mohl Group

Colin Stevens, CEO/Chairman/NonExecutive/Trustee, Click Consultancy Ltd

Jason Stockwood, Founder, 53 Degrees Capital

Sir Bill Thomas, Chairman, Spirent Communications Plc 

Alexis Toft, CEO and Founder, Toft Ventures Ltd

Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia

Sir Malcolm Walker CBE, Founder, Iceland Foods

Richard Walker OBE, Executive Chairman, Iceland Foods 

Emily Wallace, Managing Director, Inflect Partners

Louis Warner, General Partner, G-Force

Mark Welsby, Managing Director, Hawkstone Interiors

Becky Willan, CEO, Given Agency

Sean Williams, CEO, AutogenAI

Emma Woods, Chair, Ancient+Brave and Tortilla Mexican Grill plc 

Phil Zeidler, Non Executive Director, Admiral Pioneer; Perci Health; Aplyid; Cranfield University; Ride High;

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