With one week to go until the General Election, C&IT issued an anonymous poll and asked more than 40 event professionals what outcome they felt would best benefit the events industry, which, according to the British Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), is worth an estimated £39.1bn, representing 35% of the total value of the UK visitor economy.
When asked ‘which political party do you think represents the interests of the UK events sector?’ 64% of respondents favoured the Conservative Party.
Labour was second with 28% of the vote, followed by a tie between the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party with 4% each. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) and other smaller parties received no votes.
Better for business
A number of anonymous survey respondents stated that a Conservative win would be better for business and therefore the economy.
One respondent said: "Only the Conservative party are determinedly pro-business and supportive of enterprise. I am fearful if we return to anything other than a Conservative majority the current growth will be damaged."
Another added: "Conservatives are better for business and for the economy. Even if Labour talk big about supporting the events industry, they won't be able to properly support any industry without a strong economy."
Randle Stonier, founder and CEO of events agency Adding Value, said: "I wouldn’t be averse to having more of the same [a Tory/Lib Dem coalition]. In some respects I quite like the fact that the one party to some degree keeps the other slightly in check. I think a coalition government made up of Labour and SNP would be a disaster for the country and bad news for the industry."
Shrinking budgets and dropping delegates under the Tories
However, there was some support for Labour on the polls. One respondent explained that they had struggled under the leadership of the Tory party. "As an event manager for a small charity, organising events while the Conservative government have been in power has been hard.
"We have noticed a significant drop in delegate numbers due to limited budgets and overstretched capacity. We have received less funding ourselves, so have been struggling to deliver the same number of high-quality events on a much leaner budget."
Another respondent was fearful that a Conservative majority would trigger social unrest, thus forcing planners to take their events elsewhere: "While the economy is respectable, we're teetering on the brink of real disaster with the highly politicised austerity agenda targeting the most underrepresented and vulnerable in society.
"I think businesses underestimate just how much social unrest this could cause in the very near future and what that would mean to the events industry across the UK."
On the fence
Some in the industry found their opinions to be divided. Des McLaughlin, divisional director for meetings & events at Grass Roots, said: "If it’s Labour who gets in, they are not traditionally fans of private business, so that creates nervousness and uncertainty. But if the outcome is that the Conservatives get in then you’ve got the dangers around them promising a referendum on Europe, and that will make business nervous. I think it’d be best not to have an election really."
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