Labour encourages local parties to appoint ‘BuLOs’ to liaise with business

Elliot Chappell

Constituency Labour Parties have been encouraged to elect business liaison officers by Labour’s general secretary David Evans to “champion Labour’s engagement with local businesses at the grassroots level”.

In an email sent to local party executives, inviting them to a meeting with Labour Business chair Hamish Sandison and shadow minister Seema Malhotra to explain the role, the general secretary said he wanted every CLP to appoint a BuLO.

“In order to win elections, I’ve always believed that Labour needs to engage with the local business community, demonstrating that we speak for responsible businesses as well as for workers and their trade unions,” Evans wrote.

“The role of BuLOs, in partnership with TULOs, is to champion Labour’s engagement with local businesses at the grassroots level – including SMEs, social enterprises, micro-businesses, freelancers and the self-employed.”

Evans explained that the initiative is being led by the Labour-affiliated membership group Labour Business, and added that it has “strong support from the Labour leadership and from my officers in the regions and devolved nations”.

Commenting on the programme, Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said: “In every community in the country there are businesses championing an approach based on protecting people and planet as well as making a profit.

“To build the just society we need, Labour needs to connect to businesses across our country and the people who work in them. CLPs can play a vital role in building the coalition we need. That’s why we are asking every CLP to appoint a business liaison officer.”

Keir Starmer told the public in a speech earlier this year that a “new partnership with British businesses is the only way to build a secure economy, strong families and a prosperous country” and that creating one would be “pivotal” to his leadership.

“For too long, Labour has failed to realise that the only way to deliver social justice and equality is through a strong partnership with business. Under my leadership, that mind-set will change,” he said.

The BuLO initiative was launched by Labour Business in 2017, shortly after the general election, with support from the then party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Writing for LabourList at the time, Labour Business chair Hamish Sandison described the initiative as a “unique opportunity to show we are the natural party of business”.

BuLOs must be a member of their local party. They have no additional voting rights on the executive or general committees. They are appointed by a simple resolution of the local party at an ordinary all-member or general committee meeting.

Below is the full text of the email from David Evans.

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to invite you to attend an online meeting to launch our business liaison officer (BuLO) campaign for 2021 on Wednesday July 7th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.

The purpose of the event is to explain the role of BuLOs, working in partnership with CLPs and their TULOs, Labour MPs, Labour mayors, Labour councillors, SME4Labour and other business groups in the Labour family as champions of Labour’s local business engagement, putting jobs, businesses, and sustainable economic growth centre stage in every locality.

In order to win elections, I’ve always believed that Labour needs to engage with the local business community, demonstrating that we speak for responsible businesses as well as for workers and their trade unions. The role of BuLOs, in partnership with TULOs, is to champion Labour’s engagement with local businesses at the grassroots level – including SMEs, social enterprises, micro-businesses, freelancers and the self-employed.

That’s why I want every CLP that hasn’t already done so to appoint its own BuLO. This event will explain why and how. The BuLO initiative is being spearheaded by Labour Business, the business membership group affiliated to the Labour Party, with strong support from the Labour leadership and from my officers in the regions and devolved nations. At the meeting on July 7th, you will hear from shadow business minister Seema Malhotra MP and from Labour Business chair Hamish Sandison, and from BuLOs who are already engaging with their local business communities. You will find more background information on the Labour Business website here.

Ed Miliband has put his finger on it: “In every community in the country there are businesses championing an approach based on protecting people and planet as well as making a profit. To build the just society we need, Labour needs to connect to businesses across our country and the people who work in them. CLPs can play a vital role in building the coalition we need. That’s why we are asking every CLP to appoint a business liaison officer.”

I urge you to attend this important event, and help bust the myth that the Tories are the party of business. Please pass this invite on to other role holders in your CLP who may be interested.

Best,

David Evans
General secretary

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