SME4Labour was delighted to host its first annual gala on Monday 19 December. SME4Labour is a friends group of the Labour Party that works to strengthen the relationship between the party and small businesses, which are the backbone of the British economy and local communities. The event was attended by over 400 guests including over two dozen MPs and a number of Labour’s other elected politicians and peers. The gala, which took place at the Park Lane Sheraton Hotel in Piccadilly, also saw the launch of the first ever Labour Excellence Awards.
Winners of these prestigious awards, recognising contributions to the party and to the country, included Yvette Cooper for MP of the Year, John McDonnell for Shadow Cabinet member of the Year, Unite the Union for Trade Union of the Year, and Lord Dubs for Peer of the Year. (For the winners of each category, please see below.)
As well as presenting an award, Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, delivered a speech praising SME4Labour’s work, underlining the importance of SMEs to communities. Without SMEs, Corbyn said, our highstreets would be bland clones of one another. He commended Ibrahim Dogus, Chair of SME4Labour on his efforts and thanked him for what he had achieved. Corbyn added that it was important that smalls firms be able to have access to government contracts. Other speakers, including Yvette Cooper MP and John McDonnell MP, also praised the organisation’s work to raise the profile of entrepreneurs and the self-employed in the party.
Cooper said that SMEs shake things up and this is what the Labour Party is all about. She commended Ibrahim Dogus and Sonny Leong, Co-Chair of SME4Labour, on what they had done and said their energy and those working with them in SME4Labour exemplifies the energy and drive of small businesses. McDonnell said that Labour can protect people and communities by investing in skills and supporting risk-taking entrepreneurs, adding that no community should be left behind.
Ibrahim Dogus said that the Labour Party and SMEs are perfect partners. Dogus noted social justice cannot happen unless there is a growing economy. He said that Labour must be the party for all of those who want to be better off, to see their families get on, and that SMEs are the perfect engine for this. Sonny Leong said that we must never allow people to divide our country and that the Labour Party is the best way to make sure this does not happen. Leong said that SME4Labour is here to represent the views of small and micro businesses. Martin Howe, a member of SME4Labour’s executive committee, said that aspiration is a Labour value, explaining that we want our kids and our friends to be standing beside us not below us. Howe said that Labour needs to say we are the party of small businesses.
Others who spoke included Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, who said that all London growth must be inclusive, noting that we must bear in mind why Brexit happened. Claude Moraes MEP said there is a call for a strong socialist response to Brexit. Jennette Arnold, London Assembly Member, said that the assembly is working on behalf of SMEs.
Other guests included Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Minister for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities, Clive Lewis MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Baroness Angela Smith, Steven Timms MP and Sharon Hodgson MP.
The event was kindly sponsored by Galliard Homes, with drinks provided by Cobra Beer and Bira London, and was hosted by Councillor Abena Oppong-Asare.
LABOUR EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS
Labour MEP of the Year
Claude Moraes MEP
Trade Union of the Year
Unite the Union
Labour MP of the Year
Yvette Cooper MP
Shadow Cabinet member of the Year
John Mcdonnell MP
Labour Councillor of the Year
Cllr Pat Cooper
Cllr Ali Ozbek
Labour MSP of the Year
Daniel Johnson MSP
Labour Council of the Year
Labour Welsh Assembly of the Year
Baroness Eluned Morgan AM
Labour CLP of the Year
Labour elected Mayor of the Year
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Labour PPC of the Year
Labour Parliamentary assistant of the Year
Socialist society of the Year
Chinese for Labour
Friends group of the Year
Labour Friends of Bangladesh
Labour Peer of the Year
Lord Roy Kennedy
Baron Alf Dubs
Labour London Assembly Member of the year
Jennette Arnold AM