Ed hates me (and just about every other business owner, too)

Dear Tony – before you start banging on about Europe and about what’s good for business – maybe you should consider having a word with Ed, first?

In the TV debates, Ed Miliband blamed hedge fund managers for pretty much everything (and Nigel Farage blamed immigrants for… well, yes, everything). It’s in Labour’s blood to dislike us hedge fund managers, private equity manager and, indeed, all business owners who aspire to get on in life without Government hand-outs.

I used to clean toilets, 10 years before I started a hedge fund. Yes, our office is in Mayfair. As a child in Armley, at a state school, I saw ‘Mayfair’ on the Monopoly board and I aspired.

What’s wrong with aspiring, Ed? I achieved, too. But like most ‘successful’ people, I remember poverty and know I am lucky and I, like every hedge fund manager and private equity manager, do all they can to help those in need. But we can’t do that if we don’t aspire. We can’t do that if we can’t build our businesses. In fact, why should we bother if our own Prime Minister and Government hates us?

You hate us because you think we’re rich. Well, I’m not. I’m a small business owner. And there is nothing wrong with aspiring, with being a small business owner. And you know what we hedge fund and private equity fund managers do? We get our rich friends to donate money to charities, we get banks like Barclays to do it.

Yes, some want to create wealth. But we don’t sit at night looking at it, and then laugh at the rest of society. We help others. You don’t have a monopoly on being caring — in fact, I’m not sure you even have a claim at all, Ed.

When you demonise hedge fund managers, you demonise small business owners, and all people who aspire. What Ed and Labour don’t like is people who are not dependent on the state. They don’t want us hedge fund managers supporting the homeless, or widows, or orphans – they want to do it exclusively through tax and spend – so their votes are guaranteed.

If the Tories don’t have a landslide it’s because there are too many people dependent on Labour. I don’t want to be dependent on you, Ed.

And mine is a British company, too. It earns money from foreigners by investing abroad and brings profits back to Britain. I live in Britain. You demonise me, Ed, and you demonise Britons. I don’t dodge tax. I dodge how much I pay foreign governments by making sure as much as possible comes to Britain, back to where I and my company are resident –where I can use the money. But that’s too subtle to understand. Instead YOU make me want to become non-resident – remember the ‘will the last person to leave the country, turn off the lights’ headline in 1997 – that’s how you divide society.

Yes, there are some rich, greedy tax dodging people. There are also a lazy few who refuse to work at all. Neither deserve our sympathy.

But sooner or later, Ed, with your spending and demonising small business owners, you will run out of other people’s money to spend. Remember it is us, the entrepreneurs who create the companies, that pay the corporation tax, that employ the people that pay the income tax, that pay the national insurance. Without us the job creators, the business owners, you run out of the other people’s money you are so keen to spend.

And yes, it is true you will never be able to tax us enough — you could tax me a wealth tax and take 99% of my money and I still would be better off than the average person. But that’s why I help charitable causes, and those like me do the same. We don’t need you to tell us our social responsibilities – we don’t need Government in every aspect of our choices.

Alpesh Patel is CEO of a UK Asset Management Company investing in Global businesses. He is a Board Member of the UK India Business Council and a former Financial Times columnist and Bloomberg TV presenter on global investing – as well as the author of 18 books on investing.


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