5 reasons business leaders don't trust Miliband with the economy

“Financially illiterate” or “admirable”? The Labour leader divides opinion among business leaders

The Labour party may have had the edge in recent polls, but Labour leader Ed Miliband is yet to beat David Cameron in a poll on who would make the best prime minister.

There are still 22 days to go until the general election, and the polls are pointing to a very narrow margin for the two biggest parties.

It’s all to play for, but what do business leaders think of the prospect of having Ed Miliband as prime minister?

We asked them, “Would you trust Ed Miliband with the economy?”

Most said they would not trust him, but a few came out in support of the Labour leader.

Here’s what they said:

Tony Harris, MD and founder,  Contractor Financials:

“Lots of anti-business rhetoric from Miliband”

“My concern is that much of the rhetoric coming from Ed Milliband and Ed Balls seems to be anti-business and seems not to appreciate exactly where the tax receipts that they are so keen to spend are actually generated from – working people and successful profitable companies.

“In particular they demonise the flexible labour markets that have helped us avoid the high unemployment. Freelance and contract workers, be they zero hours or otherwise, have become a massively important engine for growth in the UK economy and anything that restricts an employee and employer from enjoying that win-win flexibility could do great harm to the economy and severely limit the opportunities for those many hundreds of thousands of people who do not want to commit to a full time career with a single employer.”

Dr Stephen Fear, founder and chairman, Fear Group:

“Not impressed by Miliband or Balls”

“Although I think Ed Milliband is a nice enough chap, I have doubts on his ability to run an advanced enterprise based economy.

“Would he really be strong enough to keep his union paymasters under control and continue the strong recovery achieved by the coalition? I’m not sure that he is, or indeed would even want to. 

“We must remember that the only legacy left by the last Labour government was a note from its then chief secretary to the treasury, Liam Byrne, saying to the incoming coalition, “Good Luck, there is no money.”

“Ed Milliband and Ed Balls were part of that government and therefore part of the reason for that awful legacy which left the new Conservative led coalition government to sort out.

“I haven’t decided which way I will vote but am not impressed by what Ed Milliband or Ed Balls are saying at the moment. It sounds like old rhetoric to me!”

Jo Sellick, Managing Director, Sellick Partnership:

“Balls and Miliband keep contradicting each other”

“Both Eds’ but particularly Milliband’s fingerprints were all over the last Labour government’s failed attempts at running the UK economy under the Blair and Brown stewardship. Given that Miliband served in the treasury whilst Brown was chancellor, and was one of his senior lieutenants when he was prime minister he can’t be trusted at all. You only have to look at the last week with the “nom dom” tax status announcement - it was a complete farce with Balls and Miliband contradicting one another on policy.”

Brandon Ackroyd, head of customer insight, Tigermobiles.com:

“Scared of handling facts”

“I wouldn’t trust Miliband with the economy as he’s proven numerous times when questioned he is financially illiterate and won’t put in place the reforms needed to move back to capitalism and free markets. In fact I’d go as far as saying he’s scared of handling the facts - he ignored the deficit at the Labour Party conference last year which says it all.

“A real political leader with the guts to handle the problems would outline such ghastly realities to his party and the general public. Sadly though anytime he mentions the economy it’s just lip service designed to sound promising but exploit the knowledge gap. We’re looking at another £100bn+ annual deficit in 2015, the sixth year in a row. Even with interest rates at rock-bottom and money-printing, the British government is spending far more on debt-interest than on anything else.”

Stephen Archer, director, Spring Partnerships:

“Miliband is an unprincipled career politician”

“I would not trust Ed Milliband with the economy. Ed Balls must come in for opprobrium too. They are inexperienced, un-principled career politicians whose policies move with focus groups and poll tides rather than being based on principles and unlovable beliefs. Sadly, the same may be said of all the parties with justification.”

* * *

Miliband did have suport from some companies though, while others were on the fence regarding the Tories and Labour.

Frances Dickens, chief executive, Astus:

“Labour unconvincing. Conservatives must raise their game”

“Along with many other leaders of UK businesses small and large, my gut response to this is not even slightly – Labour is yet to convincingly overturn the legacy of its last term in office. What’s more, despite the crucial role start-ups have played in rebuilding the British economy over the past five years, it is apparent that SMEs are still not high on Ed Miliband’s agenda. Developing policies that protect these new companies is vital to ensuring their future is sustained.

“But what beggars belief is that, as things stand, David Cameron and George Osborne are failing to convert their largely competent handling of the economy and the backing they enjoy from key business leaders into a winning proposition. With Labour placing fiscal credibility at the heart of the party’s manifesto, unless the Conservatives can significantly raise their game, Labour could be on track to give the Tories and the business community that supports them a nasty surprise.”

Mike Blackburn, managing director, I-COM:

“Labour has admirable aims”

“I don’t think I’d trust any one individual with the fate of the economy. For me what’s important is that there’s a good team around the elected party leader, I think Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna and other members of the shadow cabinet have the skills, experience and commercial sense to help Labour manage the UK economy.

“I sometimes worry about the cult of the individual in elections and prefer to look at what the parties themselves stand for. Labour says it wants to build a Britain that rewards hard work, not just privilege, and ensures the next generation does better than the last. These aims seem quite admirable to me and yes because of them I’d trust the Labour Party with the economy.”

Yohan Ruso, chief executive, Praditus:

“Miliband is motivated”

Based on the company’s psychometric and qualitative profiling of Miliband:

“Miliband is highly motivated to focus on people’s best interest. Our research has profiled him as a dedicated individual with a talent for planning, organising, and forecasting activities. Thus his pledge to cut the deficit year on year is likely to be upheld as he respects the rules of the game, so to speak. Labour’s manifesto focuses on economic competence, and Miliband himself is a “researcher” – that is, he is devoted to the systematic investigation of facts that can lead to the reinforcement of knowledge. So is Miliband fiscally credible? His personality would certainly back this up.”

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