Tony Blair held a pre-election lunch for 23 of the top 'captains of industry' last week. Its theme was 'competitiveness'. It aimed to reassure business that they need not be worried if the government uses any 'radical' rhetoric in order to motivate its core supporters to get out and vote. Among the guests were:
- Sir Iain Vallance, chairman of British Telecom and president of the CBI.
- Chris Gent, chief executive of Vodafone.
- Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson which owns the Financial Times.
- Tony Ball, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting.
- Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco.
- Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of GlaxoSmithKline.
- Sir Ian Prosser, chairman of Bass.
- Niall Fitzgerald, joint chairman of Unilever.
- Nick Scheele, chairman of Ford Europe.
- Lord Simpson, chairman of Marconi electronics.
And guess who made a profit
Sir Richard Sykes, the chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, enjoyed New Labour's lunch for business last week. Gordon Brown has announced that pharmaceutical companies are to be given massive tax breaks. The new tax credits will mean firms get to write off £1.50 income tax for every £1 spent on research and development.
Why can't they pay for their research and development out of their massive profits? GlaxoSmithKline was expected to announce record profits of £5 billion this week-the biggest ever recorded in the drugs industry.
The world's top drug companies are still pushing ahead with a court case in South Africa on 5 March, the aim of which is to stop the production of cheap drugs to help AIDS victims in Africa. Is your protest planned for when the trial opens?