In this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Personnel Big Question, 83% of finance directors questioned said they believed Clarke, a former chancellor, would appeal most to the business vote.
This compared to only 17% of the 369 FDs surveyed who backed Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith to take over from William Hague.
Most of those supporting Duncan Smith are looking for ‘new blood’ in the Tory party. As one FD put it: ‘The Tory party needs a change. Ken Clarke has been there and done it – Iain Duncan Smith is a fresh new face.’
Other FDs who supported Duncan Smith welcomed his reticence over Europe or fear Clarke will increase taxes.
But those backing Clarke see his experience and pro-European stance as assets. ‘He was a sensible chancellor and would make a good prime minister,’ said one respondent. ‘He would bring the value of the pound down, which is good for our business. Who is Iain Duncan Smith? What has he done? What is his track record?’
Another FD said: ‘It’s all on the euro question. To think that sterling can provide stability in a world of large economic blocs and unfettered capital flows is a delusion. The euro seals political union and underwrites stability.’
Steve Picot, group finance director of Stamford Group, said: ‘Kenneth is a better known figure, and a tried and tested chancellor. He has experience and is more charismatic.’
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