Think Labour, and you don't think, for example, 'low business rates', or 'red tape bonfire'. But Labour leader Ed Miliband wants to change that view: in a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses today, he'll say the party is the 'party of small businesses'.
Since the turn of the century, the number of people working for themselves has increased by over one million. Small businesses are now the bedrock of our economy,' he'll say.
'Small businesses are still priced out of premises, with business rates often higher than rents. There’s still no access to finance from the banks, even for businesses with a good track record. You still can’t find the employees with the skills they need.'
At the forefront of his argument will be, naturally, his Big Energy Price Freeze and how marvellous that will be for small firms. He wants to replace Ofgem with a new energy regulator which would have the power to prevent energy suppliers from rolling corporate customers over to more expensive tariffs without consent, and ban them from retrospective back-billing for more than a year.
He also wants the FSB to get involved in deciding what deals the Competition and Markets Authority (the new, improved Competition Commission) investigates.
Will this be enough to woo small firms? Maybe. Politically speaking, there are only a few things small businesses care about: 1. Red tape; 2. Hiring and firing; 3. The cost of doing business. Other than that, they pretty much just want to get on with it. Address all three points, and Miliband has a vote-winner right there. Until then, though, it’s likely small firms will remain suspicious of a party that has traditionally sided with their employees.