Thank you, Daisy for those kind works of introduction. I’d also like to thank Aviva for hosting today’s conference. I can’t think of a more appropriate venue to discuss ESG and responsible investment.


It would be odd of me not to touch on the remarkable events of this week. I won’t dwell on them long because to be honest I think we have all had enough. Thankfully the Prime Minister has seen sense and gone.


I can’t tell you what on earth is going on with them or what they will do next in an attempt to hold onto power. But it’s clear that our country needs a fresh start and a credible alternative. As much as the Conservative candidates will want to present themselves as that fresh start, it is clear they have lost all credibility to govern effectively and with integrity.


In all humility, I believe now more than ever Labour is that alternative.


A few years ago a Labour politician who came to this conference would in all likelihood not have been able to convince you that a Labour government would be good for your customers.


I truly don’t believe that is the case now. Labour is unashamedly a pro worker, pro business and pro investment party. What I hope you recognise is when I say that it isn’t triangulation, or messaging, But nor a move away from traditional Labour values or an acceptance of the status quo. It is an acknowledgement that if we are to reenergise our economy and capture the talents of the people working and setting up businesses here in the UK, we cannot do it without the private sector and we cannot do it without private investment.


What I want to talk to you about today is Labour’s offer to work in partnership with you and your customers to ensure Britain is successful in attracting the private investment we need, how we can work together to ensure the decisions we make about where and what to invest in achieve that joint vision for a prosperous and sustainable economy, and how I believe the agenda you’ve all already been embarking on the mission to make investment decisions that take into account purpose and the impact on wider society is essential, and it must endure even when times are hard.


And things are exceptionally tough for people right now. Your customers, and my constituents face extreme pressures – rising energy bills, food prices, petrol hikes are really hurting people. We are seeing the possibility of industrial action across an incredibly diverse range of sectors


All of these pressures have become acute this year but they are symptoms of a much deeper problem. Which is that the UK economy has not grown as it should have or how we would have wanted it to over the last 12 years.


At the heart of that poor growth has been truly dismal productivity growth and driving that poor productivity is, I believe, our relatively low levels of business investment. The reason taxes are at historically high levels under this Government is because it has been low growth Government.


I have the real pleasure in this job of going out and being able to see the best of British business and I get to see some amazing things. Genuinely world class, exciting innovation which is why I am so frustrated with the economic situation we are in. With the vibrancy, ingenuity, and talent we have, why should we accept another lost decade? We need a Government willing to roll it’s sleeves up and go for growth, to work in partnership with the private sector to create new markets, and new opportunities.


And to me that means an industrial strategy that provides public and private investment, at scale, to tackle the threat of climate breakdown and create new jobs and exports.


Which is why Labour’s climate investment pledge will invest £28 billion year on year to seize the opportunities of a green transition over the next decade


It means an industrial strategy that reforms business taxation and regulation to incentivise the long-term investment we need more of. That’s why we’ve promised to replace business rates with a modern system of business taxation.


It means an industrial strategy that sets the long-term framework for growth the country needs, and which gives confidence to investors of the Government’s direction of travel which is why we’ve said we will put the objectives of our industrial strategy on a statutory footing, taking a long term view which provides confidence for longer than a standard political cycle.


An industrial strategy that makes Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business. That’s why we’ve appointed former Treasury Minister Lord O’Neill to lead a review on access to patient capital, getting the right incentives and boosting diversity among British entrepreneurs.


The central objective of the next Labour Government will be to create the sustainable, long-term growth that stems from more investment, innovation and productivity.


One of the things I’ve kept a close eye on in your industry has been the development of ESG investing. I’ve also kept a close eye on the debate that has been raging on how central this agenda will be in future. It appears to me there are some who think that as we face down the economic challenges I outlined earlier – cost of living, inflation, energy prices – that the first thing to go, should be the ESG agenda.


Well I couldn’t disagree more. ESG is here to stay and as we face hard times I don’t think we need it less, I think we need it even more


From a business point of view investors’ concern for environmental, social and governance factors is not rooted just in politics or presentation. It comes as well from a concern for good governance and the mitigation of risk. Climate change is not a political ideology – it is an indisputable fact that requires urgent action.


You understand the need to act now to future-proof your portfolios in the long term. Building long term resilience into our economy through investing in solutions to future problems is exactly the long term view our industrial strategy will take


At its heart, ESG is the search for sustainable, resilient growth and that’s why abandoning these principles wouldn’t just be bad politics, it would be bad for the bottom-line in the long-run. And – regardless of what people like me think – customers will vote with their feet. The public want this, especially younger customers.


But what we have to do is give them the tools to ensure they are empowered to make those decisions.  Increasingly people will want to ensure their pensions and other investments are consistent with their priorities.


In order to make those choices there is a need for good quality and accurate data, and disclosure and reporting standards. This is where regulation can help and provide a framework, promoting a healthy, efficient and competitive market but one in which your customers are able to compare like with like.


I recognise there is concern about greenwashing and about consistency and accreditation and taxonomy. It helps no one to be labelling products as “sustainable” that aren’t really what they claim.


We also need more focus on the S and G of ESG. That means more attention on building an inclusive and diverse workforce, better protections and conditions for workforces in supply chains and crucially better metrics so that customers can make informed choices to support those aims


I firmly believe it is the responsibility of Government to provide the framework for investment we need and that the size of the investment industry in the UK means we can lead on resolving these issues.


But the long-term vision for the economy of this country and your role as the investment management industry, has to take into account the kind of economy, and corporate behaviour, the public rightly expect.


The job of providing the leadership and vision needed to reenergise our economy, cannot be done without politicians and businesses working together. I started my remarks today by saying Labour have changed. I hope the vision I have laid out makes that clear and that you can see a Labour Government as the best option not just for your clients, but for the country as well


Labour will work in partnership to attract the private investment we need. We will work with you to make sure decisions taken are informed by a long term plan. And we will crowd in investment that prioritises people and planet even when times are hard


All good partnerships start with honesty and trust. I’ve been honest about my ambition for this country and the role your industry plays in it. I hope over time I can win your trust in Labour to deliver on that ambition because with business and Government pulling in the same direction, I truly believe we can do wonderful things for Britain and seize the opportunities of the future together.


Thank you

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