The UK's main political party leaders could be much less popular among the nation's small businesses than they'd like. According to a survey carried out by Crunch Accounting, based on responses from 500 freelancers and micro businesses, 27% "would not hire any of the political party leaders if they applied for a position".
More than a fifth (22%) would hire David Cameron, while only 13% would give a job to Ed Miliband. The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon came third (12%), ahead of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg (11%).
Nigel Farage has said he'll stand down as UKIP leader if he loses the South Thanet election, but he's unlikely to try to find a job with a UK SME if he does. That's probably just as well, with only 9% of those polled saying they would give him a job. Far fewer (4%) would employ Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, fewer still (2%) Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood.
The survey also asked respondents which party best understands the needs of small firms and the self-employed. Almost a third (32%) said the Conservatives, with Labour attracting a 25% share (Liberal Democrats 10%; UKIP 8%; Greens 4%; SNP 2%; Plaid Cymru 1%).
The UK's main political parties have been at pains to highlight their pro small-business credentials. The Daily Telegraph, of course, recently published a letter reported to be signed by 5,000 "business owners" warning that "a Labour government would be 'far too risky' for the economy". The stunt was organised by the Tories and their small business ambassador Karren Brady, and in truth many signatories were not business owners.
UKIP also claims to be the party of small businesses. In April, its deputy chairman Suzanne Evans commented: "The Conservatives are in the pockets of the multinational corporations and Labour has become the anti-business party. We have a fully funded £1.2bn plan to provide 20% rates relief on premises with a rateable value up to £50,000. That will potentially cover 90% of business premises."
Sadly, none of the UK's main political leaders has ever worked for a small business or been self-employed. After leaving Brasenose College, Oxford, Eton-educated David Cameron joined the Conservative Research Department and became a special adviser. After a seven-year stint as Carlton Communications director of corporate affairs, he became an MP in 2001.
Like Cameron, Ed Miliband studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford (Corpus Christi College). After graduating, he worked in TV as a political researcher before becoming a Labour Party researcher, soon rising to chair HM Treasury's Council of Economic Advisers. He became an MP in 2005. Nick Clegg studied social anthropology at Cambridge and before becoming an MP in 2005 he was a lobbyist, then FT journalist and then MEP. Nicola Sturgeon studied law at Glasgow University and worked as a solicitor at Drumchapel Law Centre. She was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Grammar schoolboy Nigel Farage didn’t go to university, but nonetheless enjoyed a successful career in the City as a commodities trader before becoming an MEP in 1999. Natalie Bennett was formerly editor of Guardian Weekly and wrote for The Independent and The Times, while Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood was a probation officer before becoming a political assistant and lecturer in social policy at Cardiff University.
• If you still haven’t decided which party you’ll vote for tomorrow, Real Business Rescue (the "Company Recovery & Closure Experts") has created a clever online questionnaire, so you can find out which party best represents your opinions on key issues. Why not take the test?
Blog written by freelance editor, copywriter and Start Up Donut editor Mark Williams.
Global office broker Instant Offices has created a graphic that gives a comparative summary of what the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens say they will do if elected on key issues that directly affect SMEs. These issues include corporation tax, business rates, minimum wage, zero hours contracts, energy bills and broadband and the information is taken from the parties’ manifestos.
Click on image for full graphic and click again to enlarge.
The election messages continue to dance around reality. I did arithmetic at primary school, but did the politicians?
Here’s my maths. The government spends £400 for every £300 it receives, spending half our national income. If the country earned £800 per annum, the government spends £400, of which £100 is borrowed. Total government debt would be £500, rising by £100 per annum. This is less than six years away from going down the pan like Greece.
If we protect health, the government would have to cut a third of all spending to balance the books. That is an unimaginable level of cuts implying public sector pay falling by a third, which in turn would depress GDP severely making things even more difficult.
If GDP grows, it will be better. But we live in an uncertain world, with huge financial risks still lurking all around. Still all of the talk is about additional spending and what will be protected.
We have a financial crisis worse than anything seen in our lifetimes. Why are the politicians playing dumb and not getting totally real with the electorate. Maybe we still don’t want to hear?
Chris Barling, SellerDeck
I’m not naturally a cynical type of chap, however politics seems to bring a side out of me that I don’t really like.
While trying to decide who to vote for, I find myself muttering phrases such as
“Well, they’ll never actually do that, will they?” This really isn’t like me at all.
Apparently this time we are to be “helped” in our decision by the TV debate. As far as I’m concerned, this X-factor style circus only makes it more likely we’ll end up with a pretty boy/girl with lots of style and little substance.
What I’d like to do is vote for the party whose policies are best aligned with my life and that of my family. I couldn’t give a hedgehog whether the leader smiles or can remember someone’s name, but I do want to know if they know what they’re talking about.
I have a business to run – much like the rest of you. If I spend the required time trawling through all the information that would allow me to decide which party will make my business run better, then somebody else will no doubt be spending that time making their business run better than mine.
So I have to guess, basically. My guess is that Brown is an economist, whilst Cameron and Clegg are basically pop stars in suits. I think that Brown will probably ultimately be seen to have dealt well with the financial upheaval of the past 18 months, and that on that basis he should be retained. That’s enough thinking for me. Back to work.
Ross Campbell, The Exercise Club, Clifton.