Just a year ago, Jezza had words with the CBI. His message was “We can do Business together.” “Crikey” went the CBI. “Who’d have thought? I think we should believe him.”
This week he spoke to Engineering Employers’ Federation and he promised to take on the City and “the power of finance” as Labour “rebalance” the economy. “Banks should be helping the real economy not suffocating it,” he told the EEF “For forty years, deregulated finance has progressively become more powerful. Its dominance over industry, obvious and destructive; its control of politics, pernicious and undemocratic.”
Despite this undisguised attack on the financial services industry which is the UK’s biggest single positive contributor to the balance of payments, employs over 2.2m people, and pays some £90bn in annual taxation; Jezza’s speech seemed to leave the audience in a generally positive and supportive frame of mind.
How did Jezza manage this? He did his Wise-Man-cum-Shaman verbal tap dance. He said women were marvellous and there weren’t enough of them working as Engineers. (“Hear Hear – Who’s have thought? How Insightful”). He said the Brexit negotiations were going so badly that everyone there would grow three legs and lose all their money (“Lumme – and I thought the whole thing was done and dusted”) and that M&A activity would cease under Labour as he protected jobs – by changing the takeover rules. He made reference to Cadbury’s takeover – forgetting that Labour was in power in 2010 and that Our Dave strengthened the rules in 2014 to safeguard jobs. Jezza doesn’t do detail – but it is as though no one actually hears him.
What they see is Corporal Jones singing Grandad beside a warm and cosy log fire, the flickering light illuminating a time when we had drunk cocoa with the comrades whilst weeping at the treatment of the Communists, who had only ever wanted, and knew, what was best for the people. “Grandad, Grandad, we love you.”