We have been told that we all have to tighten our belts because this is the best way out of austerity. But it doesn't work. People who are finding their wages are frozen or their jobs are at risk can't afford to be very good customers for businesses. Austerity cuts down on trade both from government contracts and from consumers living off reduced incomes. And of course any business losing trade has to cut back on staff or wages and this sets the whole process off again - particularly as it lowers the government's tax revenues. We tried this approach to the economy in the 1930s and the result was the Great Depression and the Second World War. In a boom Governments should cut back on their spending and pay down debts to try and restrain excessive growth. What Labour did was let the boom run and boost government spending. Now the opposite mistake is being made. In a downturn cutting spending is the worst thing Government can do. It just makes the downturn worse. Austerity has caused a lot of pain for small businesses but it wasn't necessary pain. It is pain inflicted on you and your customers as a result of seriously flawed economic policy. The only party that is opposed to austerity politics and has policies designed to foster and supports local trade is the Green Party.
Astonishingly, at the same time as all this talk about the need for austerity £370 billion of funding has been pumped into the economy by the Bank of England. On the positive side this has staved off the worst effects of spending cuts and enabled the economy to grow. On the negative side this money has been pumped into the banking sector instead of into long term investment and much of what it has achieved has been an increase in asset prices. The banks have done small business no favours. In the run up to 2008 they made reckless gambles with people's savings and lent more money than is earned by the entire world economy in one year on exotic financial derivatives that then proceeded to collapse in value. Now they are scared to lend to help businesses develop and are refusing to lend or charging intimidating rates of interest to businesses that try and expand whilst paying savers pathetically small returns on their money. The Green Party is determined to get banks back to straightforward solid business practices of looking after people's money properly and lending it out to support business growth.
When it comes to the European Union many small businesses are seriously fed up with the amount of regulation required. But leaving the EU will not free us from this. If you continue to do any business with Europe then you will have to obey regulations set without any participation by Britain. Either you lose access to the European market or you have to obey their rules. Leaving the EU would create real risk for international local business such as Landis Lund in Crosshills or Rolls Royce in Barnoldswick. Staying in Europe and reforming it radically is a far better option and who wants to return to a world where good businesses who look after their staff are undercut by others who operate with dreadful conditions? EU rules may be frustrating but some of them ultimately help you to maintain standards that are important to you.
Of course the Green party isn't only concerned about the economy and about small business. We have, as you would expect, a serious commitment to protecting the environment. In a time when politicians are being accused of constantly thinking short term it is, I would argue, no bad thing to have a political party which has consistently reminded us that there is nothing of greater long term importance than the health and welfare of the planet that we live on. I also think the Greens proved they were thinking for the long term and prepared to stand up for what is right when they opposed our involvement in two bad wars. Our soldiers have done excellent work in two very difficult conflicts - have our politicians done equally excellent work in their choice of where to send them?
As someone who has run a public sector business with a £17million turnover I understand some of the pressures of 2,000 customers coming through the door every morning expecting a good quality service to be delivered. The two major parties are proposing a further £30,000,000,000 of cuts. I am passionately convinced that this will do huge damage to small businesses which could otherwise be viable. If you agree with me it would be great if you voted Green in May.