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Iain Anderson on a potential incoming Labour government’s approach to business

Can communications help bridge the divide between the UK government and UK business community?

Today on the PRmoment podcast, I am interviewing Iain Anderson, executive chairman of H/Advisors Cicero. Iain recently wrote a report for the Labour Party titled A New Partnership: A Long-term Plan for Government Business Relations to Power our Economy and Society,” and I thought it would be interesting to get Iain on the show to discuss how communications might help to change the relationship between government and business.

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Here is a summary of what Iain and PRmoment founder Ben Smith discussed:

1.30 mins How can we repair the trust of domestic and international business in the UK?

“It’s all got a bit mashed up lately. What does the UK stand for? What’s its approach towards business? Does it like business?... Is it interested in long term investment and where it comes from.”

“I’ve talked to 350 organisations, large and small…and experts, I quite like talking to experts.”

“People are interested in long-term policies and long-term relationships.”

4 mins Do some sections of British society regard business as evil?

“Most people regard business as core to long-term economic growth.”

6 mins How does the UK government's approach to business compare to our European neighbours and the US?

“Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has sucked in inward investment (into the US) in the last 3 or 4 years.”

“The shorthand description of my report could be: Be more Macron!”

“What is mind-bogglingly hard (for business) is trying to invest when (government) policy keeps changing.”

10 mins Iain tells us about the findings of his report on how the relationship between the UK Government and UK business can be improved.

  1. More coordination from the heart of government: The key economic actors at the heart of the UK Government are the Treasury, Downing Street, and The Department of Business and Trade.

  2. Have long-term policies.

  3. Be open and transparent: “The whole VIP lane procurement controversy during the pandemic has done huge damage and undermined confidence in government procurement.”

  4. Drive inward investment into the UK.

  5. We need to turbocharge the economy in times of crisis.

  6. Approach to regulation: The environment of risk and reward needs to be in balance.

“People are desperate to see a real signal of what the country stands for. But they also want to see the country come together. They want to see the country do well.”

16 mins Why do government policies get changed so frequently when the UK changes governments so infrequently?

“Governments start with a lot of energy…”

“We need a sense of energy. The country is fatigued.”

21 mins Privately, how are Conservatives reflecting on the Conservative government’s approach to business and investors in the UK over the past ten years?

“People have been holding back in investing in the UK.”

26 mins The treasury has no spare money. Are public—private partnerships the only way the UK can make the necessary investments?

29 mins Looking at the last 20 years: Why has UK society not created better political leaders?

“We’ve had soaring rhetoric followed by disappointment.”

31 mins When did the UK last have a functioning government?

“Realistically, probably 2012/13. Government then got very obsessed on the Scottish referendum…and then round about the same time, there was a commitment for another (Brexit) referendum…”

34 mins What is Rishi Sunak’s approach to business?

“He’s not been able to put in place consistent policies.”

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