Thank you for that kind introduction Alistair

Before I go on to talk about Labour’s Industrial Strategy,

and our plans to work in partnership with you to achieve the fairer, more prosperous Britain we all want

I want to reflect on this event today.

I get asked quite a lot, if I am running a new ‘prawn cocktail offensive’.

Now, first of all: I like a prawn cocktail.

But, I get bemused by the question because it’s predicated on a misunderstanding.

And that misunderstanding, is that there is somehow a contradiction, or a tension, in a Labour Party that wants to build a strong relationship with business

That somehow being on the side of business undermines the values Labour holds

That could not be more wrong.

As a Labour MP, I want working people in this country to have good wages, to own their own home, be able to feed themselves without recourse to a foodbank and have a brilliant and fulfilling retirement.

And no Government can deliver that unless it works alongside businesses to do it.

So I’ll enjoy a prawn cocktail with any of you.

But I won’t do it, or organise an event like this, as part of some sort of political positioning, or messaging, or triangulation.

I’ll do it because I’m serious about doing what is required to turn our economy around.

And that’s true of the whole team.

It’s set by Keir and Angela, and subscribed to by the whole shadow cabinet.

Often, when I’m doing a roundtable, or an event, I get a sense that what people really want to ask, and sometimes do, is a question along the lines of:

‘We can see this is a different Labour Party to 2019, but how deep and substantial is that change? Are we really the partner you need us to be?’

And I say – we are.

But don’t just take our word for it.

When you buy a car, you walk round it and ‘kick the tyres’.

Well at this conference, and in your meetings and interactions with us, feel free to kick our tyres, as it were.

Because you will find that all of us believe, that far from contradicting Labour values –

being on the side of enterprise is the same as being on the side of working people.

We want you to succeed, and be successful.

We want you to make a profit.

We want you to be creating more jobs, increasing wages, investing in this country’s capacity and competitiveness.

And all of our plans, are about how we can give you the best platform to do that.

The Labour plan to ensure successful businesses are founded, and growing, in every part of the country.

And that partnership has never been needed more.

In this job, I have a license to visit pretty much any business in this country.

What a great opportunity.

And I see some absolutely amazing things.

Some things that any country in the world would be overjoyed to have.

And I come back to Parliament, and I struggle to reconcile that brilliance with our economic performance over the last 12 years.

Or the bigger picture, which is that there are cities in East Germany, like Dresden and Leipzig, which languished under communism when I was a child but today have higher per capita incomes than any UK city outside of London

Honestly, I am sure we can do better than that

One of the Conservative business secretaries I shadowed this year – and there have been several but this was Kwasi Kwarteng – described their record as a ‘vicious cycle of stagnation’.

And he was right.

A Britain with the levels of growth we’ve seen since 2010 will not pay for the public services or living standards the British people expect.

A Britain that continues to have the lowest rate of business investment in the G7, will not succeed.

And a Britain that isn’t willing to be a good faith partner to our allies and friends will not see prosperity either at home or abroad.

And none of these things can be fixed by giving the Conservative Party more time in power.

That puts a huge responsibility on to us.

We welcome that responsibility.

You’ve told us, most of all, business needs certainty and stability.

Under Labour that is what you will get.

Our Industrial Strategy is designed not just to lay out a clear framework for how we will support business in Government,

but how we create the institutions that will secure that framework beyond the life of any one business secretary or any one Government.

Our four missions, at the heart of that Strategy, have received tremendously positive feedback.

They are:

delivering clean power by 2030,

caring for the future,

harnessing data for the public good

and building a resilient economy.

Just this week, Wes Streeting and I were meeting with the Life Sciences sector, looking at how we could use and improve, NHS data, as the means to underpin both healthcare and a whole new range of exciting innovative jobs.

And we’ll put the Industrial Strategy Council on a statutory footing to ensure these missions last beyond political cycles giving you the investment certainty you need.

We’ll be hugely ambitious on innovation, with our commitment to 3% of GDP being spent on research and development.

We shouldn’t pick between the Oxford-Cambridge arc or levelling up, we should back both.

We shouldn’t say it’s a choice between a world class science cluster at Harwell or Daresbury we should back both.

And GB Energy and our National Wealth Fund, is about delivering the catalytic public investment we need to stop falling behind on green steel, or battery gigafactories, or green hydrogen.

It’s a real commitment of significant resources that will make some of the great British innovation we have investible opportunities in the UK

It’s not about crowding out private investment – it’s the opposite of that.

Our plans to Make Brexit Work, which my colleague Nick Thomas-Symonds will outline in a later session, are real deliverable plans that would make a significant difference to our economy.

However, it’s not just the technological frontier Labour has a plan for.

It’s the everyday economy as well

Our plans to reform business rates will boost our high streets and lower the burden of pre profit taxation on firms.

Our changes to the Apprenticeship Levy, will give you the flexibility you need to meet the skills challenge.

And the work Rachel and Keir announced this morning, which was led by Lord Jim O’Neill, on start-ups and scale ups will make sure Britain truly is the best place to start and grow a business

Particularly, by ensuring we have the pool of long-term capital available to be invested in this country.

That review by the way, got us out talking to a whole range of businesses who had never talked to any politicians before – which was brilliant

Our plans are ambitious, but ambition and determination are what is required

All of us in Labour know we have this huge responsibility

A responsibility not just to win the next election

But a duty to turn this country around

There are big challenges ahead

(And no I don’t just mean the France game on Saturday)

Labour turned this country around from years of Conservative failure before – and we can do it again

But we can’t do it alone.

You have heard it said many times today, we need you working with us in partnership

We have a vision and a plan for our economy

Business and worker, public and private, Labour and business

We will play our part, unblocking the things that are holding you back

And I’m confident you will play yours, investing in your workforce, transitioning to net zero

That is how we will achieve the prosperity I know you all want to see

Can I finish with a personal thank you.

Not just for attending this conference today but also for the engagement you have given us, and the help you have given me over this past year

The time you take to educate us on a new technology, to expand our understanding of your sector, to take political ideas and give us your honest view of how they would work in practice

Is truly invaluable

It makes us a better opposition and it will make Labour a more effective Government

So, yes, there are big challenges ahead

But I never doubt we can meet them together

And deliver a fairer, greener, more dynamic economy for Britain

Thank you

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