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Brown - The Bosses' Friend
WOULD CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown be an improvement on Tory Blair as Prime Minister? As Blair tries to dodge the banana skins, some people hope so.
But Brown is a politician with impeccable capitalist credentials. Anyone still in doubt should look at the 'think-in' he held this week on 'enterprise' with top business people, including the world's richest man, 'Sir' Bill Gates of Microsoft.
Grossly overpaid bosses in attendance included, amongst others, Jean-Pierre Garnier of drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Terry Leahy of Tesco, Paul Walsh of liquor group Diageo and Arun Sarin of Vodafone.
The bosses told Brown their usual tale of woe. Leahy (fat cat salary £2.5 million) complained that taxes on UK-based businesses were "forever rising" and now accounted for "nearly half their profits."
However, Brown and New Labour have slashed corporation taxes since they came to power just as merrily as their Tory predecessors did. Many billions of pounds have been returned to the coffers of big business in Brown's budgets.
The fat cats told Brown he must stop taking money out of their pockets - and Brown listened attentively to them. Garnier, whose £22 billion pay and perks package last year even angered other rich investors, said that governments had to ease employers' tax burden or see more and more workers' jobs go to low-taxation (and poverty pay) countries.
Walsh of drinks giant Diageo (salary £3.75 million in 2002) said Britain's tax system "penalised success". The man from Vodafone (where four directors 'earn' over £1.5 million) railed against costly government and regulatory action.
Productivity has grown slower under New Labour than it had for decades. But instead of ignoring the failing industrial bigwigs, Brown is threatening to "slow the rate" of spending on public services and talks of "providing incentives for investment in wealth creation and greater rewards for success".
Brown has given us due warning. If he were Prime Minister he would be just as much a bosses' man and just as little predisposed to the workers as Blair.
In The Socialist 31 January 2004:
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