Miliband and Umunna take small step away from naive anti-capitalism
I have written about Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow Business Secretary, in The Independent on Sunday today, noting that he did well last week in making life awkward for the Government over the Pfizer bid for AstraZeneca.
He did this without once mentioning – or being asked about – Labour’s policy at the 2010 election, which was still something Ed Miliband was “looking at” two years ago, of making takeovers more difficult by requiring a two-thirds majority among shareholders, and restricting voting to those holding shares at the time of the bid.*
Funnily enough, Miliband himself didn’t mention either of these policies in his letter to David Cameron today, which was a lot of anti-capitalist waffle but which at least avoided anything specific enough to be damaging. All he suggests in the letter is that Labour wants to reinstate the “public interest” test, which it abolished in 2002 because it was too vague (substituting specific tests of media plurality, national security and financial stability).
So has the two-thirds shareholder vote, which was supported by David Sainsbury for what I thought were bad reasons, been dropped?
I think we should be told.
*Update: I am grateful to Guido Fawkes for pointing out that Umunna did actually mention the need for “more grit in the machine” in his interview with Neil on Friday (starts at 26 mins), giving directors in target companies “more confidence in the long-term view”, by ensuring that short-term speculators are “not able to vote”. This is a policy with which I disagree, but at least the two-thirds voting threshold seems to have been quietly buried.Tagged in: capitalism, Chuka Umunna, economics, ed miliband, takeovers
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