Every trade association and trade body should of course remain politically neutral. And thus far, bodies such as the IoD and the CBI are setting a good example.
However, these coming weeks present both a duty and opportunity for companies and individuals in packaging to fully engage with politicians and the electoral process and to remind all parties of a fundamental truth – that it is business that creates wealth.
We can talk all we like about the decisions and choices to be made in and around the public sector. In other words we can discuss ad infinitum how we spend the public purse. But more importantly, we need to restore a clear reminder about how such a purse is created. Successful business – an amalgam of creativity, innovation, enterprise and many other things – is how, and is the engine of national wealth.
Wealth is not the same as money or taxation revenue. The truth is that we have nothing to spend if we have not earned it or created it through business. For this reason business needs to be healthy. It also needs to be free of misguided regulation and administration. Many politicians need to be mindful that the Hippocratic oath – ‘First do no harm’ – applies every bit as much in this arena as in medicine.
As importantly, the majority of politicians could and should become literate and enthusiastic in the positive qualities that business brings.
Our packaging sector has much to help them with in this regard. We are certainly among the most creative of manufacturing sectors. We are also counted among the top ten UK manufacturing industries and we contributes over £12 billion annually to the UK economy.
From this moment on therefore, and up until polling day, I hope that many of our number will engage with the political parties and local prospective candidates; reminding them of the positive qualities of business and that we need every possible opportunity for growth.
In practice, this means letter-writing, meetings, work through the local chambers of commerce and invitations to visit and tour local factories.
In the next two months there are opportunities here to influence the national business debate for the better. I urge you to take them.