The Accountancy Age/Reed Personnel Big Question of more than 330 FDs found almost 40% of them believe Blair is failing the business community. Even more FDs were unconvinced that the government is creating the right environment for business.
This week’s findings come as a warning shot to Labour just a week before the party opens its fourth annual conference in government. With Labour’s poll ratings flying high after what has been seen as a largely trouble-free summer the news will also alarm party managers.
Labour, according to the survey, could struggle to win back the business vote if, as expected, it calls an early general election next spring.
The business community’s vote of no confidence comes only a year after an Accountancy Age survey revealed that Labour had won its difficult battle for the trust of FDs at small and medium businesses.
Last October, 44% of FDs surveyed said the economy was in safer hands under the Labour government than under the Tories. But this week 39% said Labour is not doing a good job with a huge 41% undecided.
The strength of the pound, uncertainty over interest rates, a lack of control over exchange rates, cost of fuel and a non-investment in UK industrial capacity were given as reasons for the loss of favour.
Some branded government policy as ‘bland and inefficient’ despite good economic conditions, while others still expressed the old adage that the Tories were more ‘business minded’ than Labour. FDs continued to express doubts over the effectiveness of the government’s campaign to cut red tape.
The lack of a final decision over the future of the UK in Europe was also pinpointed as an obstacle.
A minority 20% in favour of Labour government handling of business pointed to the benefits of low inflation rates and business tax legislation.
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