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Are the Tories the 'best party' for construction?

A Construction News online poll has revealed that readers believe the Conservative Party would be the best party for the construction industry to be in government following May’s general election.

The poll, taken before Wednesday’s Budget, found that more than 61 per cent of voters put their faith in the Conservatives, with just 21 per cent siding with Labour.

With the election less than two months away and housing, infrastructure and skills set to play a huge part in the debate, construction sites are proving perfect picture fodder.

David Cameron and George Osborne chose Crossrail again this week to don their hard hats and furrow their brows.

What better place to promote your big ideas than Europe’s biggest infrastructure project?

The Budget offered no big rabbit that will cause seismic shifts in the construction industry but plenty in terms of incremental change that could be of benefit, such as further powers for cities through exploring City Deals, potential boost for first time buyers through a new Help to Buy ISA (though housing supply still appears to be of secondary importance when it comes to bold coalition policy moves) and more on the chancellor’s newfound love of the North by way of its transport plans being formally announced today.

Labour leader Ed Miliband had his attack hamstrung by a combination of a resurgent economy, good news on unemployment the morning of the Budget and the chancellor’s customary moves to pre-empt potential Labour policy attacks with announcements of his own.

One area the chancellor ignored was climate change and the low carbon economy, and the Labour leader duly referenced it in his rebuttal (though he failed to mention ‘infrastructure’).

Given the ‘green crap’ sentiments allegedly expressed by the PM, coupled with FiTs and Green Deal fiascos, the Conservatives will have a hard time convincing the industry of their merits despite good work in other areas such as the establishment of the Green Investment Bank (which Mr Milband says Labour would replace with a ‘proper’ GIB).

It’s an area where Labour will surely poll strongly with the construction industry. The fact that their leader referenced climate change and the low carbon economy in his Budget speech at all will help.

Interestingly, our online poll tallies with the findings of our latest CN Barometer for Q4 2014, which is only open to senior leaders at CN Top 100 contractors.

In the Barometer, 82 per cent of respondents agreed that the coalition government’s plans for infrastructure investment after 2015 will be a significant boost to the construction industry.

Asked whether a Labour government would spend more on infrastructure than a Conservative-led government, 61 per cent disagreed.

Labour has come out in favour of HS2 (after some characteristic toing and froing), has pledged support to the Airports Commission’s review on aviation and thus can’t come out in favour of one runway over another at this point, and is seeing the Conservatives encroach onto its northern turf with promises, however grandiose and unachievable they may or may not be, of HS2 and a Nothern Powerhouse.

The Labour Party won’t win widespread approval simply for greater public commitment to a low carbon economy, however.

And with the party manifestos due to be published shortly, it will need a large rabbit of its own to really grab this industry’s attention.


Poll results

We asked: Election 2015: Who do you think would be the best party of government for the construction industry?

These were the results:

Conservatives:  61.1 % (104 votes)

Labour: 21.1 % (36 votes)            

UKIP: 7.6 % (13 votes)   

Greens: 3.5 % (6 votes)                

Other: 3.5 % (6 votes)

Liberal Democrats: 2.9 % (5 votes)

170 people answered. The poll was live on between 20 February and 6 March.

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