I GROANED when I heard Rachel Reeves say that she had gone to Davos to make clear that Labour were going to make the UK a good place to do business again. There were numerous reasons.

The first is that I cannot recall how many times I have heard politicians say this in the 45 or more years that I have observed the political scene.

The second, more pragmatically, is that Rachel Reeves has never worked in anything like a normal business. In addition, she has assembled a team of advisers who know very little about the entrepreneurial-style smaller companies that dominate the UK economy outside London (below), and which are most commonly found in Scotland. In that case, I very strongly suspect that she has not the faintest idea what she is talking about.

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Searching for any additional meaning based upon the interviews that she seems to have done has been a fruitless task. As usual with any comment that she now makes, they are devoid of actual content, but are long on meaningless slogans. So, let me offer my view of what it is that businesses do really want from a government, and which I am fairly sure she is not offering.

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The first thing that businesses want from a government is responsibility. They look for a government to uphold the rule of law because absolutely everything about a business depends on that. Quite simply, contracts underpin every business relationship, even if there is much more to a successful business than simple law enforcement. If a government – as has been the case with the current Tories – shows contempt for the law, then that country is not a good place to do business. The UK is not such a place at present, and I am not hearing how Rachel Reeves is going to address this issue.

Secondly, businesses want a level playing field. In other words, they want the chance to compete with other companies on the basis of the quality of their service, the prices that they charge, and equal treatment when it comes to the imposition of regulation. That level playing field does not exist in the UK right now. Even HM Revenue and Customs admits that almost 30% of small company taxes owing in the UK go unpaid each year.

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I suspect that figure might be much larger than they estimate. This means that honest businesses in Scotland have no real chance of competing effectively with their rivals who are cheating. Worse, those businesses that do try to comply with tax law and who still get things wrong are likely to be penalised much more severely than those who simply avoid their obligations altogether. Rachel Reeves is saying nothing at all about how she will tackle this issue, or other similar disparities in the imposition of regulation in other areas, and businesses that want to prosper will be deeply dismayed by that.

Third, businesses are looking for a government to provide practical support to them. This does not mean handholding or advice, necessarily. Most entrepreneurs are not seeking that. Instead, what they want are well-trained, fit employees who are able to do their jobs. They also want those employees to be able to take the risk of working for their business, which is only guaranteed if employees know that there is a strong social safety net based on a generous welfare system that might support them if things go wrong.

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These are the foundations on which strong, productive and innovative workforces are built, and Rachel Reeves is saying nothing about creating these essential underpinnings of prosperity.

Finally, businesses want the chance to grow. Many will only do that within their local economy, but traditionally a lot of companies have also looked to both import and export to achieve this goal. As we all know, Brexit has made this very much harder – or near impossible – for smaller businesses because of the costs involved. Rachel Reeves is saying absolutely nothing of substance about how she would change this situation.

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As a consequence, she is letting business down right across the UK. When Scotland has such a strong export focus to some of its business activities, she is failing it in particular.

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I come to one very clear conclusion. As ever, it seems that what Labour are saying and what Labour will do are completely unrelated to each other. Reeves has no idea what business wants, or how to support it, and the evidence is in her actions, where nothing she is saying is going to meet the needs of most businesses that I know.

Two thoughts. The first is, what is the SNP going to say about this? They have no minister for industrial policy in Scotland right now. That is a serious oversight needing urgent remedy.

The second is, when will business make it clear that Labour are not meeting its needs? They seem very keen to cosy up to it right now, but may not be helping themselves by doing so. They really need to be a little more wary. Everyone else is.