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Friday, 23 April 2010

Election Update

by Chris Fletcher
Deputy Chief Executive and Policy Director

With less than a fortnight to go, the election is still anybody’s and is probably becoming more about who will lose rather than who will win.

The second leaders’ debate last night was different from the one held in Manchester a week ago with both David Cameron and Gordon Brown taking a different tack in trying to stem the “teflonesque” momentum built up by Nick Clegg. The initial polls following the debate gave very mixed results on who had “won”, the suggestion being that both failed and the Lib Dem revival will continue. More importantly some themes are finally beginning to emerge on where the parties stand on the key issues and battle cries from each of the leaders are becoming clearer. It seems a bit of a shame that it has taken so long for this to begin to happen.

The Chamber has a team of policy experts scanning the papers and internet on a daily basis for major policy announcements in the lead up to the election. We meet daily to discuss what the latest issues are and how they will impact on business. The old saying is that a week is a long time in politics well, having waded through a weeks worth of political outpourings and trying to unearth the real issues that affect business a week is a very, very long time in politics. There is a real lack of any deep and meaningful detail from any party about what the future holds for business in very uncertain times. Yes the broad themes are there, yes everyone talks about change and fairness but the lack of clarity is notable by its absence.

All that will change next week, there’ll be no hiding place after this week’s raft of economic news, completed with today’s GDP growth figure of 0.2% for Q1. This was weaker than expected, but is no cause for alarm. The recovery is very fragile and needs to be nurtured, so with this in mind it will be interesting to see how the leaders use today’s figures in their respective arguments. The spin doctors will be hard at work over the weekend so expect these figures to be presented at the Leader’s Debate as the best thing since sliced bread and the worst set of figures in the history of man, all in 90 minutes.

Last week we made a rallying cry to businesses to get more involved and you have. So this week let us borrow a key phrase from last night and make another call - this time to all the parties to “get real” and dare to be different by treating the electorate as grown ups, cut the personality war and concentrate on the real issues around economic growth, a better deal for business and getting the UK business community back on its feet.

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