Election 2015

Small food firm bosses 'back Conservative policy'

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Small-scale support: small food firm bosses have signed a letter supporting Conservative policy. Or did they?
Small-scale support: small food firm bosses have signed a letter supporting Conservative policy. Or did they?
Small food and drink firm bosses – including a dairy, a butchery and a confectionery manufacturer – have signed a letter of support urging the Conservatives be “given the chance to finish what they started”. But the letter’s authenticity was later challenged on the BBC's Daily Politics show.

The letter – published by The Telegraph​ – claims the Conservative-led government was committed to ensuring “Britain is open for business”, ​while praising its record in reducing the deficit, helping to keep interest rates low and inflation down.

“A change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years,” ​according to the letter.

‘Far too risky’

Read the full letter below, plus the names of some of the food and drink firm bosses who signed it.

But Labour‘s shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, claimed the Conservatives had spend the past five years “letting down” Britain‘s small businesses.

“Government scheme after government scheme designed to boost finance for small firms has failed, and small business lending has fallen by £500M in the last three months​,” said Umunna. “With Labour, the tax burden on small firms will be lower than under the Tories who have overseen an increase in business rates of around £1,500.”

“Labour‘s Better Plan will cut – then freeze – business rates, set up a Small Business Administration and a proper British Investment Bank to back small businesses. And only Labour will tackle late payment and the unfair treatment of small suppliers we‘ve seen under the Tories.”

Challenged the authenticity

But the BBC political commentator Andrew Neil later challenged the authenticity of the letter. Speaking on his BBC Two Daily Politics​ show, Neil invited executive secretary to the Treasury David Gauke to explain why many of the signatories apparently had little or no connection with the businesses they were said to represent. Watch below part of the interview with Gauke in the message posted by Neil on the social networking site Twitter.

The Federation of Small Businesses declined to comment on the letter.

Earlier this month, the bosses of some of Britain‘s leading food and drink businesses signed a letter of support​ for the Conservative‘s economic policy, which was also published by The Telegraph​. Signatories included: Paul Wilkinson, chairman of Thorntons, George Weston, ceo of Associated British Foods, and Ocado boss Sir Stuart Rose.

Open letter

“Dear Sir,

“We run small business right across the country.

“We work hard, make sacrifices and invest our own money to help our businesses grow and succeed. It was tough during the recession but we kept going.

“This Conservative-led government has been genuinely committed to making sure Britain is open for business. They’ve managed to get the economy moving again by tackling the deficit, helping to keep interest rates low and inflation down.

“We’ve been helped by their steps to lower taxes, reduce red tape, simplify employment law and get the banks lending. 

“The good news is that businesses like ours have helped to create 1,000 jobs a day since 2010.

“We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started. A change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years.”

5,025 signatories.

Food and drink signatories

  • Raymond Boyd, md, Abacus Foods Ltd, Scotland
  • Babul Hussain, director, Anjum Spice Ltd
  • Anne Newiss, proprietor, Anne’s Cakes for all Occasions, East of England
  • James Archer, director, Archers Butchers Ltd, East of England
  • Gary Barr, md, Arden Fine Foods Ltd, West Midlands
  • Nitin Patel, director, Auromeera Wines. East of England
  • Sharon Atkins, director, B and S Dairy Foods Ltd, West Midlands
  • Philip Courtenay-Luck, md, Bonds Confectionery Ltd, East Midlands

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