Interesting times – jumping on the Corbyn commentary bandwagon
I’m sure I will be one in a very long line of business commentators who are somehow crowbaring mentions of Jeremy Corbyn into their copy this week but his ascension to Labour leader is going to impact us all one way or another.
Whilst his views on specifics such as business rates have not become apparent as yet, tax hikes, nationalisation, squeezing property owners are – and I claim these all fall into my writing remit.
As George Osborne eyes up the newly forming opposition across the Commons this week, he will probably be counting the days until the next General Election and a stampede of moderate voters head towards the Conservative corner.
But even with “Corbynomics” now seemingly compulsory in the business media language, Osborne shouldn’t be resting on his laurels; there is still a very full inbox of issues he needs to tackle before he can move his pipe and slippers from No 11 to next door.
Osborne is still facing criticism as he seeks to impose yet more austerity. His call to save an additional £20bn in public spending comes on top of measures in July’s budget for £12bn of savings from welfare and £5bn from tax changes.
The Chancellor still doesn’t seem to have any fans either in the retail sector. There is rarely a day goes by now that my inbox doesn’t have one alert or another on the retail sector “demanding” action on business rates.
High street stores and supermarkets are anxious about business rates rising over the coming years and the much vaunted review has yet to deliver its verdict. Osborne is under pressure to shake up the system but with a “revenue neutral” pledge underpinning the whole process he hasn’t given his Whitehall minions a whole lot of wriggle room.
It will be interesting to see the positions play out over the next few days and weeks. As I write, we have John McDonnell installed as shadow chancellor which means the five most senior positions in the Shadow Cabinet have been filled by men, including Andy Burnham as shadow home secretary, Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary, and Tom Watson as elected deputy as well as Corbyn and McDonnell.
Some hoped Corbyn to appoint Angela Eagle as shadow chancellor to balance the shadow cabinet politically and by gender. Eagle was instead given the business portfolio and will also become shadow first secretary of state, deputising for Corbyn in the Commons.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is the latest big name to call on the government to extend the business rates holiday beyond April 2021.
The retail and hospitality sectors are mobilising the troops with dire warnings that thousands of business are at risk if the rates holiday isn’t extended beyond April 2021.
The pandemic has led to more than 50,000 extra appeals being lodged against business rates by Scottish firms alone.