Britain’s bosses are worried. They are fretting about Brexit, but their bigger concern is Jeremy Corbyn.
That’s the message from wealth management firm Morgan Stanley, who think a general election in the second half of 2018 is likely.
A report it released this week agonised about the effects for “companies in the utilities, postal, telecommunications, financial and defence sectors” if Corbyn wins.
The point was made even clearer in a briefing from Graham Secker, an equity strategist at Morgan Stanley.
“If I am a UK shares fund manager, I am more concerned about a potential change in the domestic political government than I am about Brexit,” Secker said.
“You need to think about tax rates going up, about nationalisation, about an economic system which has favoured capital over labour for the last ten to 20 years shifting to favour labour over capital.”
Morgan Stanley then put up a list of firms who should fear what Labour might do. It included Ocado, Go-Ahead, Stagecoach, Greene King, Tesco, Ladbrokes Coral, and Dixons Carphone.
These are companies who have lots of low paid workers who might, horror of horrors, do better under Corbyn while profits might fall a bit.
As Morgan Stanley put it, “Higher low-end wage growth could also impact service-oriented companies with low margins.”
This is the authentic voice of capital.
Ignore the thin smiles that bosses will sometimes bestow on anti-Brexit Labour figures. In their hearts they hate any interference with what they see as their right to make money.
So Labour had better prepare now for a battle. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said last week he was taking “advice and assistance” from asset managers. Don’t bother.
And don’t bother trying to win over the bosses’ CBI.
However many prawn cocktails you eat with them, capitalist sharks don’t turn into cuddly bears.
Only under intense pressure will companies make concessions.
There is a class war going on. After Philip Hammond’s budget last week, the Resolution Foundation forecasted that real disposable incomes will go down for 19 successive quarters.
That’s the most prolonged fall in more than 60 years.
For the poorest third of households, the forecast is “an average loss of £715 a year by the end of the parliament.” In contrast, the richest third will gain an average of £185.
Instead of trying to ally with the bosses who gain from this system, Labour has to fight them.
That means encouraging every bit of resistance now, initiating fightbacks itself, and looking beyond elections to organise struggle in the workplaces and the streets.