Clark: An Industrial Strategy That Works for Everyone
Greg Clark, Business and Energy Secretary speaking today at Conservative Party Conference at The ICC, Birmingham said:
“Over the last 6 years we have been able to report that
- We’ve created jobs
- We’ve attracted investment, and that
- We’ve achieved growth
We needed to.
Because every time there has been a Labour government they’ve run out of other people’s money. Every time there has been a Labour government we Conservatives have had to clean up the mess.
And every time – just like this time – we can proudly say: “We have done our duty”.
But the truth of course is that it isn’t government that creates jobs.
When we say ‘we’, what we actually mean is ‘you’. The entrepreneurs, the small firms, the start-ups, the investors – British businesses and the people who work in them.
You are the heroes of Britain’s economic revival. It’s you we salute.
We have seen a great revival of enterprise in this country. During the last 6 years almost 3 million new businesses have been created – more than at any time since the Victorian era.
The taxes that our businesses pay contribute £140 billion a year to our public services.
They have attracted more investment from overseas than any other western economy save the United States. We are a nation built on business, powered by business and whose future depends on business.
Growing up on Teesside, in the shadow of the great cooling towers of what was then ICI, and with the sky lit by the glow of the coke ovens of British Steel, I know the importance of big industry. But small business is in my blood too.
My dad was a milkman, running the family business that my granddad started after the war. I saw first-hand what being in business really means. Above all, the sheer hard graft.
My dad was no exception – up with the lark, 7 days a week. If you’re in business you’re never off duty. As a youngster, I understood the effort, but what I didn’t always see so clearly was the other side of business – the quick thinking, the inventiveness, the sheer entrepreneurship. Every business knows that if you want to get ahead, you’ve got to think ahead.
So too does the country.
And that is why Theresa May is determined that this country should have a proper industrial strategy. And I’m delighted she has given me such a strong Ministerial Team to lead this work.
and Jesse Norman.
Our Whip Chris Pincher.
And our PPSs Conor Burns and Wendy Morton.
And I’m thrilled to announce that the man who turned around both Asda and ITV – and did so much great work for our party – Archie Norman, will be joining me as the senior non-executive director of this Business department.
It’s obvious from what I’ve said that if governments don’t create jobs, they certainly don’t create businesses – or industries either. But can government make a difference?
Just ask yourself this: Would it matter to British business if – God forbid – Jeremy Corbyn was Prime Minister of this country? Last week in Liverpool – a city built on trade and enterprise – Mr Corbyn set out his vision. A plan to tax enterprise, nationalise our industries, bankroll failure and stamp out success.
When today’s Labour Party sneer at the job creators, turn their back on the ambitions of ordinary working people and march off to the political extremes, we in this Party must make this one simple pledge: we will never allow Mr Corbyn to do to Britain what he has done to the Labour Party.
The only ‘momentum’ we want to see in our country is the momentum of innovation. Of job creation. Of regeneration across the land.
Enterprise – not socialism – is what lifts people out of poverty, and this party will never forget it.
So having the right Government, with the right policies, makes a world of difference.
And planning how we to create the best possible conditions for British business in the long term is not optional but essential. Building on your strengths is the cornerstone of good strategy and we have no shortage of them.
We are a scientific powerhouse.
Only America has more Nobel prize-winners, and more top universities. Look up into the night sky tonight and marvel that a quarter of all satellites launched into orbit are made not in Houston or Cape Canaveral – but in Stevenage.
Our professional services, our creative industries, our technologists – they all set the global gold standard. Our global leadership in combatting climate change now presents us with a massive opportunity to enjoy industrial success as we put clean energy at the heart of our industrial future.
Of course, magnifying our strengths is not the same as protecting incumbency. We must act constantly to create the conditions for us to be open to new competitors – and indeed to new industries that may not exist anywhere today but which will shape our lives in the future.
The benefits of innovation must flow to consumers – in better products, improved service and cheaper prices. The best businesses value long-term relationships with their most loyal customers.
The worst ones abuse them.
And it’s not in the most competitive industries where people who are loyal to their supplier are fleeced, but where competition is most sluggish, and incumbents most dominant. An economy that works for everyone must ensure that those with market power don’t use it against consumers – and especially those most vulnerable to exploitation.
And the same applies to workers. Outside the family and education, work is the most important way in which people can develop their talents and spread their wings.
Thriving businesses spread opportunity
From Shaftesbury’s Factory Acts to William Hague’s Disability Discrimination Act, Conservatives have always understood that decent treatment of people at work is not at the expense of industrial success but is a foundation of it. This is why the Prime Minister and I have launched an immediate review of employment practice in the modern economy.
We know that our labour market works well for the vast majority of people – we want it to work for everyone.
In this city of Joseph Chamberlain, who as Mayor created conditions for industrial success that made Birmingham renowned as the City of a Thousand Trades, we must recognise the importance of place to an industrial strategy. For far too long Governments have peered out from Whitehall and imposed policies that treated every place as if they were identical.
They are not.
The needs of Cornwall are different from those of Birmingham. And our strategy must reflect that. And we couldn’t be more fortunate in having a man who embodies the combination of brilliant business success and passionate devotion to this city and its region standing to be mayor – Andy Street.
The best Governments are the ones that sense that the world is changing and that the country has to change too. In 1979, Mrs Thatcher and the new Government knew that Britain needed to change to meet the modern world. She described 1979 as a year that was “not just part of history, but which made history”.
I believe that, in the years to come, we will look back on 2016 as just such a time. The challenge facing us is this. For all the excellence and entrepreneurial brilliance that I have described. For all the assets and skills and reputation we have as a nation. For all of the astonishing economic progress we’ve made in this country.
It is still too uneven. Britain can boast the richest area in Northern Europe – central London.
But we also have nine of the ten poorest.
We Conservatives know that this is not good enough. We have some of the most capable and best trained people on the planet; but still too many who haven’t had the education or training to get a good quality job.
We have new infrastructure like Crossrail about to open, but digital networks that leave too many people poorly connected. We have low carbon energy systems that lead the world, but also a failure of successive governments to replace our ageing power stations.
And we have a worldwide reputation for fair dealing, but also examples of behaviour that trashes the good name of business. This is no time to lower our sights or our standards.
This country will never win a race to the bottom.
Looking ahead, it’s clear that the only viable path is in the opposite direction.
I believe that it is time for our country to have an upgrade.
An upgrade in our infrastructure.
An upgrade in the resilience – and the cleanness – of our energy supplies.
An upgrade in our education and training.
An upgrade in the development and regeneration of our towns and cities.
Upwards to a country that invests
Upwards to a country of opportunity and of enterprise.
Upwards to a country that works for everyone.”