So we Brits are all in the throes of having to make the dreadful choice when casting our votes this week. Colleagues and clients across Europe and the US have been studiously telling us that there is either more definition or less corruption in the UK’s political options compared to their own home turf, and that we should stop moaning and just get on with it with good grace. Point taken.
In fact, there are two issues that the successful party or coalition must address immediately and seriously. First is the economic black hole of the UK public deficit (expected to be around £70bn once the temporary bank prop-up allowance is removed). The other is giving small and medium-sized businesses proper recognition and a strong representation to government.
I believe that the existing small business organisations are frankly ineffective in forcefully carrying the SME lobby to parliament. There is plenty of wooing of large firms by political parties, but only token recognition really being given to the 1.5 million firms that produce half the country’s revenues. The Conservatives have pledged that 25% of government contracts would be awarded to small businesses. The LibDems say they will force banks to lend more to small businesses. Labour says it will provide £4bn in new venture capital for growth businesses.
All this is very well, but what pressure group is going to scrutinise government and lobby for real delivery on these promises? In my personal view, certainly not the feeble organisations that currently claim to represent SME interests.
So with a new government, we need a new representative organisation to drive through SME issues. Any volunteers?