What's really at stake for the hospitality industry in the forthcoming election, asks Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels
On 8 May we shall wake up to the news that either David Cameron or Ed Miliband is to be our prime minister for the next four or five years. Whatever your preference may be, if you have one at all, the outcome of the election will have a massive impact on our industry but
not, in my opinion, for the reasons that are normally aired.
As we all know, the Labour party presents itself as the champion of ordinary working people. They talk often about a ‘living wage', they despise ‘zero hours contracts' and they promise to protect vital public services by spending ever greater sums on them, sometimes suggesting that all the extra money required can be obtained simply by imposing higher taxes on bankers' bonuses. Labour's rhetoric includes much vitriol aimed at ‘fat cat' entrepreneurs who enjoy a millionaire lifestyle while their employees struggle to keep the wolf from the door. Lots of people will vote Labour because they believe in a fair society and want to see the public sector flourish.
In recent years the Conservatives have moved significantly towards the centre ground and do not, as they did in the past, present a radically different set of ideas.
They also speak about fairness and getting everyone to pay their proper share of taxes. They continue to spend more than they collect and so our national debt goes on rising. They even have the same target in mind for the national minimum wage (to reach £8 an hour by 2020).
As for the other parties, while each has distinctive and in some cases brilliantly argued policies, we know that at best they can only expect to be a junior partner in coalition with one of the two main parties, and many commentators say that voting for them simply increases Miliband's chances of moving into Downing Street.
So what is really at stake here? Personally, I fear a Labour victory with every bone in my body. The painstaking work of Chancellor
George Osborne since 2010 to prove to the international money markets that Britain has a sound plan to deal with its deficit has been the key factor in keeping our interest rates low, which means more disposable income for our customers and more investment in hotel and catering businesses.
The upshot has been a great boost to confidence in the economy and a massive rise in the number of private sector jobs, many within our trade. All this would be at risk if the economy was placed under the control of a party that has failed so spectacularly to manage public spending in the past.
The hospitality industry employs 2.7 million people, a tenth of the total workforce. Just imagine what would happen if we all voted the same way. We'd never be ignored again.
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