Labour turns on charm for creative industries summit

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Labour’s top team will on Tuesday launch a charm offensive with creative industries in its first big engagement with business leaders since the recent disputes over bankers’ bonuses and executive pay.

Senior Labour leaders, including Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, and Harriet Harman, shadow media secretary and deputy party leader, will meet 50 executives from the media and other creative industries to discuss how to promote the sector.

Ms Harman told the Financial Times the event showed that Labour wanted to develop links with business and insisted Ed Miliband, party leader, was attempting to push a “pro-reform rather than an anti-business agenda”.

The creative industries summit follows a period of increasingly strained relations between Labour and business as Mr Miliband has promoted his “responsible capitalism” agenda.

“In the creative industries we want to listen acutely to what business wants government to do and act on that because it creates jobs in the future,” said Ms Harman.

One senior Labour figure admitted the summit – involving a sector with which the opposition has enjoyed close relations in recent years – was part of a rebuilding of relations with industry. “It’s going to be a big love bombing of business,” said one party figure.

Other Labour leaders attending the event will include Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary and Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary. Companies invited include Time Warner, ITV and Google.

“There are a whole range of areas where the government need to be taking action [such as] access to finance, support for exports, making sure music and creative subjects in school are not squeezed, [and] that copyright issues are being dealt with,” said Ms Harman.

She criticised the government for failing to implement the Digital Economy Act, Labour’s attempt to stem piracy. She also expressed dismay that the government had not moved faster on the communications green paper to help define regulation to the sector.

The paper was due to be published earlier this month.

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