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The general election is fast approaching and the main protagonists are out and about on the election trail canvassing our votes in a time where the result could be the most open in this generation. The usual suspect of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are expected to be strong contenders to make up the next UK government but they are threatened this year by the upsurge in popularity of some previously lesser known parties such as UKIP, the Scottish National Party and the Green Party amongst others. The televised national debates as well as general Westminster disillusionment have given the alternative parties a big push with UKIP set to damage conservatives hopes and the SNP expected to do the same to Labour, nobody can predict what will happen on the 7th May or indeed who will hold the balance of power come the 8th with most expecting another coalition government to be put in place, but which parties will be involved? We commissioned a survey of 2000 UK self-employed tradesmen to see which way they are likely to vote, we asked them which of the parties would you prefer to see in power after the General Election and which of the party leaders they think would make the best Prime Minister the results were very interesting, below we outline and analyse the results.
Coming in at the top of our poll was Labour with 35% of the votes, with many of our self-employed tradesmen sticking close to their working class roots and backing leader Ed Miliband despite the perception of our responders that he is not as strong a leader as his counterpart from the Conservative party David Cameron.
Though the Labour Party finish top of our poll, their leader was a distant second with 31% of the vote to Cameron`s 48% when we asked who they preferred as potential prime minister indicating our responders have more faith in Cameron to lead the country. Labour policies such as their pledges to `cut and then freeze` business rates as well as promising there would be no increase to the basic or higher rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT will have scored highly with our Self-employed tradesmen but the potential increase in minimum wage may have gone against them in our poll as well as the perceived weakness of Miliband as leader.
Closely following Labour to second in our poll was the Conservative party with 29% of the vote, the party has strong links with business and are accused by Labour of being a party `not of working people` but many of our Tradesmen disagree. Tory Anti-Immigration policies and potential tax benefits may have helped their cause but the rise of UKIP is sure to be taking many of votes from the conservative right. One plus point for the Conservatives in our poll may be the preference of David Cameron over Ed Miliband when it comes to choice of Prime Minister, in fact David Cameron is far and away the preferred Prime Minister in our poll collecting 48% of the votes with Miliband coming in a distant second with 31% of the vote.
The rise of UKIP is such that they have overtaken the Liberal Democrats, in our poll at least receiving 19% of the votes. The question for UKIP is will this translate to an increase in seats or simply an increase in the populous vote? Nigel Farage has been riding a crest of a wave over the past few years since making huge gains in the European elections and is predicted to have MPís in parliament after the election largely at the expense of the Conservative party which may explain Labour`s victory in our poll. The conservative right have become increasingly disgruntled with immigration issues as well as the increased transfer of power to Brussels so many are jumping ship to the party they think best represents their views, UKIP. Many people say that UKIP are a one policy party but even so they are the only party offering a total withdrawal from the EU which is gaining them many votes, the Tories are offering a referendum but that does not offer the certainty UKIP are offering. Immigration can be an important subject matter for many in the construction industry as they see cheap labour from the European Union as a threat to their business and employment opportunity.
In a disappointing result for the Liberal Democrats our poll sees them gaining only 17% of the votes, this may be down to our demographic of self-employed tradesmen not having views particularly in line with those of the Lib Dems or due to their performance in government, some view their backtracking over tuition fees to be a big negative but then there are those who believe they have done a good job in curtailing the Conservatives as part of a coalition government. Nick Clegg does perform better than Nigel Farage in our leader poll with 13% choosing Clegg as their preferred Prime minister with Farage scoring only 7%.
Another party expected to make big gains in this year`s election is the Scottish National Party largely at the expense, they scored highly amongst the tradesmen we asked in Scotland but there were not enough Scottish responders to make dent in the results.