ed miliband
Ed Miliband announces his resignation as Labour Party leader at a news conference in London Neil Hall/Reuters

One of the most interesting narratives of the election campaign was the suggestion that Britain's business leaders would flee the country en masse if Ed Miliband wins. Some described it as cast in stone, a fact in waiting; others suggested it was nothing more more than the hyperbolic ranting of the right-wing press.

I chair quite a few companies, and I advise a few more. Some of the biggest in the land, some of the smallest in the land. And I can say categorically, for certain, that the talk of a Miliband-inspired flight of business talent was no exaggeration. It would have happened.

Miliband's speeches may have got slicker during the campaign. His delivery was smoother, his body language more confident. He probably became more adept at negotiating a bacon sandwich these days. But the core message remained the same, and business leaders read it loud and clear: Ed Miliband was their worst nightmare since Michael Foot.

Whether it was Kinnock or Smith, Blair or Brown, even Red Ken Livingstone, they all believed in letting business people make money. And when those people had made their money, there was a discussion about how much of that money should be handed over to the public purse. But essentially it was an argument about the level of taxation.

The argument put forward in this campaign was different. It was a fundamental dispute about the best way forward for British business. Miliband is an interventionist socialist with a deep conviction about intervening in markets. In other words, he thinks he can run a business better than the businesspeople themselves. He wanted to go straight back to the 1970s.

This concept of increasing income tax from 45% to 50% - we all knew it would only raise a couple of hundred million, and it wouldn't cause anyone to leave. Most people affected by the tax would have found a way round paying it. But the point is the policy was emblematic, totemic, an example of a wider ideological vindictiveness. As I've said before, it was about the mood music.

Samantha Cameron
David Cameron (R) and his wife Samantha pose for pictures as they arrive back at 10 Downing Street Getty

Imagine you're a headteacher in a really difficult comprehensive school in London. You and your partner bought a house years ago for £300,000, now it's worth £2.5 million, and of course you're going to be paying mansion tax. And your salary of £160,000 a year, every penny of which is hard-earned, is now subject to 50% taxation. You've ceased to be one of Ed Miliband's hard-working families; now you're a rich person who should pay the price. In Ed Miliband's eyes, you're the same as Roman Abramovich.

Did you ever hear Miliband say that profit is a good thing? Did you ever hear him say 'I'm on the side of the biggest companies in this country making loads of money so your pension fund goes up in value, huge amounts of tax are generated and lots of hospitals are built?' You never heard it. The man has no understanding of business, and he is opposed to it. So therefore the people who create wealth in this country were saying 'this isn't a place I want to be.'

Miliband's gaffes provided easy laughs for the tabloids but his lack of business nous was no laughing matter.

This isn't an apologia for the big corporations which make fortunes here and don't give anything back in tax. I think Google, Amazon, Starbucks and the rest are disgraceful. But I belong to a system which says that if it's not illegal, you're allowed to do it. If you think it is wrong, change the law.

George Osborne has already begun efforts to change that law, and rightly. The average businessperson down the road, the person cleaning windows and mending gutters, is just as disgusted as you are about this sort of practice; it's not the sole preserve of Socialists to hate it.

Miliband has never hired anybody, he's never fired anybody. He's never put his mortgage on the line and said 'my family aren't going to have a holiday for two or three years while I build a business.' He wouldn't have a clue about it.

SNP will make Miliband look like a free-market capitalist

When it came to a Labour-SNP alliance, I think Miliband was telling the truth. He wouldn't have done a deal with the SNP. But still, he'd have had to rely on them.

Sturgeon said something very telling during the campaign when she suggested that, if Labour were to put forward a budget in a minority government, her party would be happy to reject it until it was changed to their satisfaction. What she meant is 'if you don't do it my way, I won't vote it'. Which meant she was going to be in power. Miliband would have hid behind the old 'I haven't asked for this' line, but that isn't good enough.

If the SNP had had any sniff of power, people would have realised they made Ed Miliband look a free market capitalist. They are seriously left-wing. So you would have had this constant issue of a man who couldn't carry England, propped up by a socialist party from Scotland, led by a woman who hasn't even got a seat at Westminster. The ordinary English voter wouldn't stand for it and Miliband would have forfeit any legitimacy, which would only have weaken domestic and international confidence further.

People might argue that Cameron's EU referendum will pose a bigger risk for British business - specifically, the suggestion that Britain could leave the EU. But I'm certain that, if the British people were to vote themselves out of Europe, there would be a free trade agreement in the morning. Germany sell a million cars a year in Britan; 90% of our trains are made in Dusseldorf. France would know we could make French wine four times more expensive if we wanted. There's no incentive for the European leaders to marginalise us.

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Read how IBT reported election night live (Pic: Getty)

I do agree that the two-year delay implicit in Cameron's referendum plan is a danger. If the Conservatives were to win power and hold the referendum in 2017, it would spend the next two years with its eye off the ball, trying to build up a head of steam in favour of staying in, trying to get meaningful reforms from Brussels to present to the British people. Businesses hate uncertainty; they'd rather have bad news than no news.

If I was Cameron and I won the election I'd be trying to shrink that referendum timeframe. I'd be trying to reduce it from 24 months to 12 months, simply because I'd want to kill the corrosive uncertainty.

But when you talked to people in Europe, they weren't worried about a Brexit. They were simply stunned by the idea that we were going to throw away our economic recovery by betting on a government which wanted to turn the clock back 40 years.

I had dinner during the campaign with a French banker who said the rest of Europe could not believe this. He told me 'you've got the most successful economy in the developed world. No inflation, low interest rates, virtually no unemployment and high growth. And you want to change it? The rest of Europe are laughing at you.'

We needed to nip this joke in the bud, and we did. Britain has come a long way since Michael Foot, and Cameron's victory showed that.

Lord Digby Jones is one of Britain's most influential business leaders, having served as Director General of the CBI and Minister of State for Trade and Investment. He is now a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords.

In addition to his political role, Lord Jones serves as chairman of Triumph Motorcycles Limited, and holds advisory and non-executive roles in several companies including BP, JCB, Grove Industries and Jaguar Cars. He has also written an acclaimed book entitled Fixing Britain: The Business of Reshaping our Nation.

You can find out more about Lord Jones via his website, or connect with him on Twitter @Digbylj.