26th September 2017 - SME4Labour, in partnership with LabourList, hosted an event at Labour Party Conference in Brighton entitled 'Labour's links with SMEs: building a pro business reputation'. SME4Labour co-chair Ibrahim Dogus was joined by Stephen Kinnock MP, Bill Esterson MP, Lola McEvoy of the Living Wage Foundation, and Labour Business chair Hamish Sandison.
Bill Esterson MP kicked off the event, making the case for Labour as the party of small business. He spoke of the real uncertainties around Brexit, but stated that Labour is leading the way while the Tories dither and divide on the issue. He argued that Labour’s manifesto was clear in its support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
SME4Labour co-chair Ibrahim Dogus followed, arguing that we need to invest in SMEs to boost the wider economy. He made the case for greater innovation and that this has been stifled by years of Tory economic neglect, arguing only Labour has the ambition to embrace changes in the economy in a progressive way.
Lola McEvoy argued that low pay creates insecure consumers who don’t buy as many goods and services as they otherwise would, making the pro-business case for the real living wage. She spoke of how effective campaigning can make the real living wage a reality and that procurement levers, making it more likely a company will win contracts if it pays the real living wage, should be fully utilised.
Stephen Kinnock MP reaffirmed that Labour is the party of fair competition, helping the little compete with the large, and that SMEs need better access to finance – access that has dried up in recent sluggish years. He argued for the national investment bank with regional arms, a key part of Labour’s election manifesto. He said that SMEs are the answer to question of how we rebalance our economy, spark a modern manufacturing revolution and build a new kind of inclusive growth.
Hamish Sandison closed, arguing that we have to bust the myth that the Tories are a pro-business party. He said that Labour’s excellent policies on health and education are also attractive for businesses - businesses thrive with healthy, productive, well-educated workforces. Sandison made the case for a Business Liaison Officer in ever constituency Labour Party to reach out to local businesses more effectively.
Stephen Kinnock is the Labour Member of Parliament for Aberavon, having been elected in 2015. Stephen served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, and is an active member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Metal Related Industries, chairing the committee responsible for the recent Steel 2020 industrial strategy report. Previously, Stephen was the Director and Head of Europe and Central Asia at the World Economic Forum, having worked for the British Council for more than 12 years where he held senior UK and international positions in Russia, Sierra Leone and across Europe. In 2012 he took up a position at Xyntéo in London, an advisory company that helps global businesses go beyond the green basics and reinvent the way they grow.
Bill Esterson is the Labour MP for Sefton Central, first elected in 2010. He has served on the Select Committees for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Education, Community and Local Government and the Treasury. He was appointed Shadow Minister for Small Business in September 2015. Prior to being an MP, Bill ran a small business for 15 years.
Lola McEvoy is the Campaigns and Communications Manager at the Living Wage Foundation. She joined the organisation in June 2016 and has a background in managing high profile campaigns. Lola has a passion for employee's rights and issues affecting women in the workplace. She stood for Labour in Penrith and the Border at this year's General Election.
Hamish Sandison chairs Labour Business. He is a consultant with the international law firm Fieldfisher, specialising in IT law, intellectual property and public procurement. He is dual-qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales, and as a US attorney. Hamish has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Labour Business (formerly the Labour Finance and Industry Group) since 2013, and was elected as its Chairman in 2015. He stood as Labour’s candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Gwent in 2012, and as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in Monmouth in 2010. Hamish has law degrees from Jesus College Cambridge and Berkeley Law School in California.
Ibrahim Dogus is an active Labour Party member and activist who stood in the Cities of London and Westminster at the 2017 General Election. His is the founder and director of the Centre for Turkey Studies, the British Kebab Awards and the Centre for Kurdish Progress, and co-chair of SME4Labour. Ibrahim runs several successful small businesses in Central London, including the restaurants Troia, Westminster Kitchen and Cucina.