Many small business owners often get fed up at the lack of attention they receive compared to the big business bashing beloved of much of the national media. But today they’re firmly on the radar, as David Cameron has chosen the issue to prove he hasn’t lost his ‘passion’ for the knife-edge General Election campaign with just 10 days to go.
‘When I hold those receptions at Downing Street and when I get the people who got start-up loans coming into Downing Street and telling me what they’ve done, often giving up a well-paid career, taking a risk, having a punt, having a go, that pumps me up,’ he shouted (literally – no microphone today), bouncing like a Duracell bunny. ‘If I’m getting lively about it, it’s because I feel bloody lively about it.’
‘We are the party of the grafters and the roofers and the retailers and the plumbers. We get them, we respect them, we understand them, we back them. While Labour sneer, we cheer,’ he said, rehashing the workers vs shirkers battlelines.
Cameron’s uber-enthusiastic speech comes after Tory donor Peter Hall said yesterday the prime minister had been showing ‘a curious lack of energy and belief in his campaign’.
It also followed a letter published in The Telegraph signed by more than 5,000 small businesses. ‘We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started,’ it read. ‘A change now would be far too risky.’ The rather neat coincidence was, unsurprisingly, down to the fact the letter was orchestrated by Conservative HQ, rather than being a spontaneous outpouring of support.
But does the PM’s new-found energy actually translate into any new policies supporting small business? In short, no. Cameron vowed to slash £10bn-worth of regulation, without any real detail. He said there would be a ‘radical’ investigation of business rates, but that was announced back in the Budget. And that a Tory government would review how to make things easier for the self-employed – a good idea in principle, but then it was just a principle.
Today, then, Cameron’s hyperactivity was all about firing up the party faithful and getting himself back on the front pages – not about the nitty-gritty of what will actually help small business.