Decoding Corbynism: What will a Labour government mean for business?
23-Nov-2018
Phil Reay-Smith, Director, Corporate & Business

After many months of uncertainty, a Brexit deal is on the table. The outcome is… more uncertainty. Who knows what will happen, including who will be running the country – and our economy – one year from now?

So a panel event organised by one of 3 Monkeys Zeno’s public affairs partners, Cavendish, seemed timely – Decoding Corbynism: What will a Labour government mean for business?

Should businesses fear Jeremy Corbyn?

They should fear the alternative, according to Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former spokesperson for the Labour leader. With living standards flat for a decade and the politics of tinkering in the margins not improving things, he cited social democracies collapsing across Europe, replaced by right-wing populists.

“Someone has to offer something different,” he said. “It could be the far right if it’s not the left.”

As to what that “something different” might look like under Jeremy Corbyn, Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, has a list. She has worked in Downing Street under prime ministers Blair, Brown and Cameron, and would likely have a role in shaping policies for a future Labour government, so you can take her list as a good indication of what Corbynomics would aim to do:

  1. A transition to a green economy
  2. Better and more equitable living standards in healthcare, housing and education
  3. An acknowledgement that business is the lifeblood of the economy and it should work in the long-term public interest, with a voice for the workers
  4. Give people a greater stake in industry through public and employee ownership
  5. An active state would intervene for the public good but not centralised like in the 1970s
  6. More people power

“There is a sense in the country that there is something wrong with a system that is rigged against people,” she said. “The social contract that has dominated our society – that if you work hard, you and your kids will be fine – has not worked out.”

This is not business-bashing, the pro-Corbyn panel was keen to stress, although some business representatives in the audience made it clear that they thought talk of “levelling the playing” field for big business was.

It’s clear the party’s next manifesto will be more radical, not least because what was proposed in 2017 was a braver version of the document Ed Miliband had published for the 2015 election. Policies are being drawn up now, with input from communities around the country rather than in Westminster.

But Dr Faiza Shaheen, Director of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, pointed out that what some see as Labour’s radical manifesto pledges are no more extreme than what is widely-accepted as business policy in Berlin. German friends of hers can’t understand why some of our business people are so vexed about Jeremy Corbyn.

At 3 Monkeys Zeno, we believe corporate reputation is made by communicating the value businesses bring to society beyond the bottom line. By aligning what our clients do with what they say, we help them to solve problems using communications and make a positive impact on employees, society and the environment.

Examples of clients focusing on social impact include Starbucks pledging to hire 10,000 refugees and Lenovo investigating globally how its technology can foster inclusion in society.

Zeno’s unique global methodology, The Human Project™, identifies how values change and impact society and behaviours. It charts a huge rise in the value of belonging, trust and social responsibility, all driven by the younger generation. The same changing values are reflected in the tribal following of Corbyn in the UK.

So much remains uncertain. But we will continue to humanise the businesses we work with, to help them communicate the positive social impact that they make and show how communications can drive innovation action.

 

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