Industry calls for shift in political debate to focus on growth

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EEF attacks ‘small and blame driven’ politics.

Britain’s manufacturers are calling for an end to “negative and introspective” political debate ahead of the general election and a return to focusing on how to promote economic growth and ensure the UK is well placed to meet the huge global challenges the country faces.

The call will be made by Martin Temple, Chairman of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation at the body’s annual dinner this evening.  In his speech Mr Temple will also call for the UK to remain with the EU whilst urging the next government to work for reform from within.

Speaking ahead of the general election and referring to the tough choices the incoming government will face Mr Temple will say:

“Whatever the political rhetoric, one certainty is the need to reduce the deficit which will involve tough choices. Whoever assumes power will have to prioritise and limit public spending. And those who make such decisions must remember the basics: you have to earn it first, then spend it wisely. And that as a nation we do not exist within our own shores but must survive and thrive in a global market through the development of new technology.

“That’s why we need to look again at the drivers of productivity – investment in plant and equipment, in people, in infrastructure, in innovation and continuously improving the tax regime to support business evolution. These are the foundations for long term growth and our future success as a global, trading nation.

“What we want is a debate on the positive action needed to create the growth and prosperity we need by encouraging and reassuring business to invest and employ more people."

On the current political debate Mr Temple will say:

“To date the political debate has been negative and introspective. It has not been about our place in the world, how we compete or work with partners across the globe to create growth.

“This gets us absolutely nowhere, all parties are guilty of it, and it diminishes us as a nation. It makes our politics look small and blame driven.”

Calling for the UK to remain within Europe and urging the next government to work for reform from within, Martin Temple will say:

“While we are beginning to persuade European partners to reform, some political leaders here are adopting a laissez-faire attitude that could see us sleepwalk out of Europe. They must avoid being trapped by promising unrealistic reforms that cannot be delivered.

"Instead they must be realistic about what can be achieved and work with like-minded partners across the continent, of which there are many, to get major reform on the move.”

Calling for a sensible debate on migration, Martin Temple will say:

"Migration has enhanced our nation culturally and economically. We need skilled workers from around the world, at the same time as training our own UK workforce.

"But what feels like a race to the bottom on immigration worries me. The mood music is that we don’t like the rest of the world. That if you’re not like us or, are different in some way, then you’re not welcome.

"This is dangerous ground. We need to respond by countering these arguments with a positive view of the benefits of migration, whilst maintaining a balance where there are genuine concerns."


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