As the annual conference of Britain's largest employers organisation, the CBI, opens in London today, relations between the government and business have hit an all-time low, with business leaders rounding on Chancellor Gordon Brown over what they see as his failures on tax, pensions, energy policy, productivity and public spending.
Sir Digby Jones, the CBI's director-general, described the growing fury of his members in a wide-ranging interview with The Business ahead of its conference on Monday. Jones, who has led the CBI for the past six years, said: "I've never heard such a feeling of annoyance and discontent from business towards the government."
Business believes the government has failed to tackle the big issues where leadership is required and to tackle vested interest groups, Jones said. "There is enormous anger at the craven surrender on pensions. It is easy to negotiate when you say: 'I give in.' The government has given in to its trade union paymasters," he said, referring to the government's failure to push through radical reforms to public sector pensions and to raise the retirement age for existing state workers.