BBC BLOGS - Peston's Picks
« Previous | Main | Next »

Tory-backed business letter flops

Robert Peston | 15:04 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

An attempt backed by the Tories to persuade a group of business leaders to sign a letter warning about the alleged dangers to the UK of a hung parliament has collapsed.

Building on the success of last month's business leaders' letter which opposed Labour's planned increase in National Insurance, the Tories were helping to circulate a letter claiming that the UK's economic prospects would be damaged by a lack of decisive leadership by a new government - and argued that a hung parliament could prevent such decisive leadership.

I understand that among those approached to sign the letter were Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, Sir Stuart Rose, chairman of Marks & Spencer, Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, and Sir Philip Green, owner of Arcadia.

"The letter was not explicitly backing any party, though it was co-ordinated by the Tories" said one of those who was asked to sign. "I was approached by Andrew Feldman for them".

I am told that a number of business leaders refused to sign and others subsequently withdrew their names.

"It looks as though the letter isn't now happening" said the boss of a well-known company. "Without us, perhaps Simon Cowell (who gave a positive assessment of David Cameron in today's Sun) will swing it for the Tories".

A Tory spokesman said that the letter was not his party's initiative although he said it did provide support.

Update 16:00: Sir Philip Green has just telephoned me to put on the record that he and Charles Dunstone personally think that a hung Parliament would be bad for the UK.

They both want to see a decisive election result.

"We want a clear decision on who the new leader is" said Sir Philip. "That leader has to show vision and then have the ability to execute that vision. I can't see how that can happen if there's a hung parliament. Let's be under no illusion: hung parliaments are a bad idea".

So, I suppose, that's what Sir Philip would have said, had the letter I referred to in my earlier note been published.

Update 16.31: My note on the hung-parliament letter that never was seems to have stirred up something of a hornet's nest.

I've now been contacted by Sir Martin Sorrell who says that he won't sign group letters in general, because they are capable of being misunderstood.

But he too would prefer a majority victory in tomorrow's election rather than a hung parliament - though he won't say which party he would like to see forming the government.

He is fearful that any coalition government will find it difficult to make the tough decisions necessary for cutting the UK's record public-sector deficit.

I should point out, for the sake of balance, that by no means everyone in the City and business agrees with Sir Martin, Sir Philip or Mr Dunstone on the perils of a hung Parliament.

And it is not insignificant that neither sterling nor the price of gilts have collapsed since the opinion polls started indicating that a hung Parliament is the most probable outcome to the election.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "Without us, perhaps Simon Cowell (who gave a positive assessment of David Cameron in today's Sun) will swing it for the Tories"

    I would have thought that would swing it for Labour and the Liberal Democrats!

  • Comment number 2.

    What ridiculous logic... vote for Tory, not on merit but simply because of nasty 'hung parliament' scare stories.

    What trash and at last these increasingly impotent can see signing political letters doesn't work any more.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hmm? In that case, among other Conservative scares:

    Ask not, what my government has given me,

    but ask what will the Conservatives take away from me?

  • Comment number 4.

    Dave has blown it. No letters will make any difference. Dave was done in by duck houses!

    He and his party are responsible for the hung parliament. They betrayed the hopes of the people. We knew what we had with Gordon. We wanted a change, but buggins's turn, Dave failed the closer examination by the people - that is what the polls say and it is only the Tories that can blame themselves.

    (I am just reflecting the state of the polls - so no complaints.)

  • Comment number 5.

    ho ho. Those pesky politicians and the undemocratic, desperate japes they play.

    I think the Greeks have the right idea.




  • Comment number 6.

    Just another act of political desperation, of which all 3 main parties are equally guilty. I hope all three get trashed by the voters, blocking them from earning anything more at MY expense - just cringeworthy!

  • Comment number 7.

    Germany works fine with a shared system.

    It's time the UK becomes as strong as Germany with a 2 party system rather than the weak 1 party system where 35% of the vote from a 60% turnout determines who wins the election.

    This system has led to failure and it needs to be replaced, look how much better Germany has done during the global downturn.

  • Comment number 8.

    Anyone else notice that all those in the list don't actually make anything of general use to society?...only money and profits to line their own pockets with.

    I would only use a letter that they had signed to wipe my back-side with.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's surprising to think there is one person who actually thinks Simon Cowell will affect the election. It's even more surprising they are a business leader.

  • Comment number 10.

    Without policies there can be no mandate.

    Historically people were passionate about their policies and campaigned on them and either got voted in or didn't on those policies. If they got voted in they had a clear mandate to impose those policies on the country.

    Now all that matters is getting elected and the policies are seen as a risk. So there are no clear policies, no passion and no mandate once elected.

    So at a time when a strong leader is required we have no chance of getting one.

    It is only the minority parties that are prepared to stand on their actual principles and stand or fall on that basis because they believe in their policies and it is their policies that matter to them and not getting elected.

    The electoral system is therefore upside down and needs sorted out!

  • Comment number 11.

    I said that we should have had a phone vote for this parliament. After all we have 3 rounds on TV....

    Really any letter that is signed by a load of who-evers does not make up anybodies mind, not in these days.

    You could always go for a tax cut! And as I have not fully decided there is time before I go to vote to change my mind.

  • Comment number 12.

    So I guess no other European countries, the vast majority of which have multi-party governments, have any successful businesses? Vorsprung durch hungparliament.

  • Comment number 13.

    I, Reginald Fah-Fah, Captain of Industry, totally support the Conservative's letter warning about the dangers to the UK of a hung parliament.

    David Cameron for Prime Minister and Great Britain will be open for business, not recession cuts!

  • Comment number 14.

    Perhaps in the Tory reform of the electoral system they will re-introduce the business vote weighted of course by the turnover of the company headed by these great and good.

  • Comment number 15.

    I remember well the hung parliament of the seventies. It was a complete and utter disaster, but Labour clung to power, and even after the Liberals (as they then were) withdrew their backing, their unelected leader (Jim Callaghan) hung on desperately, until Mrs Thatcher brought his government down on a vote of no confidence. It was then, as it is now, a love of power, and not a wish to do what is best for the country that sustained Labour.

    I'm prepared to bet that unless the Tories can command a majority Broon will continue as PM with, or without, a coalition with the LibDems, and as head of a minority government. Give up power? Broon? Not on your sweet life. It is bread and meat and air and water to him.

  • Comment number 16.

    And low it all became clear. The Conservatives want a gang of millionaire, tax-avoiding white businessmen (I'm assuming they're all men) to instruct their fellow citizens that Cameron needs a majority to ensure that the uppity oiks who will be hammered by his austerity programme have no political recourse.

    "We are all in this together?" Yeh, right.

  • Comment number 17.

    A hung parliament might be the best thing for the citizens. As they all agreed to bail out the banks they should all be able to agree on how to solve the mess created by the banks. The decisions about what will be cut and what will be taxed should be done with many points of view and not just those of banking and big business. A little horse trading may produce the best results for everyone and not just what is best for the special interest. One of the problems with politicians has been the continued talking down to citizens and teling citizens what is in their best interest. If they all, as they profess, have the interest of the nation at heart, what difference does it make if no one has a clear majority. Might actually produce better government and most certainly one that will be more balanced in approach. These strategies that say if you don't do what we like the sky will fall don't carry a lot of weight as the sky has already fallen.

  • Comment number 18.

    Anyone who believes a hung parliament is no good is really saying they are concerned that our politicians are not prepared to respect the wishes of the voters.

    Are they bickering schoolchildren or mature, professional adults who simply can not work as part of a team?

    Most employers demand team work these days... If the employer wants it the employer gets it. If that isn't in your nature then just don't apply for the job.

  • Comment number 19.

    Robert,
    Would you agree that Greece type Riots will come to UK if the Tory-Lib spending cutters win?
    Where are things going? Tories & Change is an oxymoron and the 'new?!' Gladstone Party is now flagging.
    But have you looked at Clegg & co policies - advise us. They are very Thatcherite - ToryPlanB http://bit.ly/dwk63p
    Frankly in the last week only Gordon Brown has Answers & Vision the others are empty game show hosts.

  • Comment number 20.

    The NI letter was fair game since it directly impacted their businesses and their profits - so was fair to comment even if they perhaps should have been wary of supporting a specific political party but then since no one really things these bosses are going to be anything other than Conservative supporters it does them little harm and most can see the point being made did relate directly to their business.

    Hung parliament is a different matter - whilst it may have an effect on business, signing up to support one partys message is a clear implied support for one party on behalf of the business. This steps over the line of what is wise.
    Customers and employees are voters and some may resent in effect being advised/told to vote a specific way by the boss and in the name of their supermarket, clothes shop etc. or employer - not the done thing at all.

  • Comment number 21.

    Letter or no letter we already know that the whole of British business want a Tory victory to avoid the economic disaster that another 5 years of Labour would represent.

  • Comment number 22.

    I know the Conservatives have been saying that a hung parliament could jeopardize Britain's economic recovery, but this is the first I’ve heard about a warning letter to businesses.
    I read that a letter was supposed to be published in a national newspaper. Is this the same letter?
    Also many business leaders have been asked to add their names to a warning statement (Is this the letter?). I won't quote the warning in full but it begins: "The next government faces a huge challenge to get our public finances back under control..." and concludes: "the British economy needs the certainty of a strong undivided government."
    If this warning and the letter are one and the same, those who declined to sign (or removed their signature) saying that it was too political an act to be associated this close to the election have done the right thing.

  • Comment number 23.

    What sort of hung parliament would be acceptable?

    One where there were so many permutations it would take weeks if at all to gain some sort of consensus.

    Would the markets really put up with that? And for how long?

    It's a casino we're in and we're taking a big gamble. Do we feel lucky?

  • Comment number 24.


    BBC's business editor's weak attempt at putting "Cameron", "business" and "flop" into one headline and post, er, flops.

    I thought there were rules against this sort of thing?

    Now your post has been picked up on the internet as an example of BBC bias. Elections, eh?

  • Comment number 25.

    Can't see the point in this - what difference would it make anyway at this stage?

    I certainly don't need the likes of Philip Green and Simon Cowell (of all people) telling me how to vote.

    Cameron has not handled this campaign particularly well - Hobson's choice for us all tomorrow.

    What will be will be - time for the swingometer, is that totally in the hands of Jeremy Vine (shame it's not his brother Tim) or is Peter Snow going to be in there?

  • Comment number 26.

    "Sir" Phillip Greene back in town, from his tax avoidance hidey hole in Monaco, then? Telling the tax-paying drones wot's good for them?

    And what has that poor old pleb, Charlie Dunstone, done, to be overlooked amongst the "sirs"? He should ask the other "sirs" for a few tips. "Sir" Fred Goodwin, for example.

    Surprised they didn't sign up for Dave's new initiative. As Dave continually tells them, "We're all in this together."

  • Comment number 27.

    1. At 3:24pm on 05 May 2010, nametheguilty wrote:
    "Without us, perhaps Simon Cowell (who gave a positive assessment of David Cameron in today's Sun) will swing it for the Tories"
    I would have thought that would swing it for Labour and the Liberal Democrats!
    ____________________________________________________________________

    You are obviously a child of the sixties. Simon, in his capacity as erm.. a judge is uniquely placed to advise the British people which way to vote.


    5. At 3:51pm on 05 May 2010, warwick wrote:
    ho ho. Those pesky politicians and the undemocratic, desperate japes they play.
    I think the Greeks have the right idea.

    ________________________________________________________________

    Apparently the pensioners who firebombed a bank are pleading for all Europeans to rise up. Wheres WOTW ?




  • Comment number 28.

    7. At 3:54pm on 05 May 2010, F1 wrote:

    Germany works fine with a shared system.

    It's time the UK becomes as strong as Germany with a 2 party system rather than the weak 1 party system where 35% of the vote from a 60% turnout determines who wins the election.

    This system has led to failure and it needs to be replaced, look how much better Germany has done during the global downturn.

    F1 - if you think our dire economic performance over the last two years has anything to do with the electoral system, you're living in cloud-cuckoo land.

    We were vastly impacted by the downturn because the Labour government allowed our economy to become too dependent on two sectors - financial services and the public sector. A failure in the former has required the latter to prop up the economy (on top of already negligent levels of over-expenditure), to the expense of the rest of us, our children and probably our grandchildren.

    Labour's housing boom caused by loose monetary policy and financial regulation is the other major factor, compared with Germany's more prudent approach at both a governmental and personal level.

  • Comment number 29.

    Perhaps Green and Dunstone are also not good for the UK economy as they both import most of what they sell!

  • Comment number 30.

    21 Jobsagoodin

    I think you mean the Conservatives managing the country out of the economic disaster that Labour will bequeath to them.

    Bank debt loaded onto the national debt = austerity

    Now whose fault is that?

  • Comment number 31.

    It is certainly not a great reflection on the Tories that the incumbent Government has got the country into perhaps its worst mess since the Second World War and yet stands likely to still be able to form the next Government ! That will be as bad for the UK as the final spell was under the Tories previous long stint but the problem is everyone naturally votes with their own interests to the fore. The bottom line is that the UK is in no position to deliver much of what has been promised by all the parties and if we think that we're not voting for one party because they might take away something which we would rather not see taken away, the reality is that they are all going to have to take away a good deal more than they are saying - and from the vast majority of us !!

  • Comment number 32.

    Piers Corbyn 19

    'Frankly in the last week only Gordon Brown has Answers & Vision the others are empty game show hosts'

    The only person whose going to turn this country into Greece is Gordon Brown. He's already given this country a deficit to rival that of Greece. Give him another 5 years and he'll finish the job.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi All, Well, well, well!
    First let me nail my colours to the mast.. I have voted and have voted Liberal Democrat in a constituence where it is a Labour / Conservative marginal fight.
    "A hung parliment is bad decisive leadership is required...." Yes if you are looking for the excesses of either the Conservatives or Labour. They will both take power as there god give right and within 6 months you and I will be exposed to the extremes of policy of each party under the mantra of we have to do this to get the UK better...
    If that is the case why have they not been clear about what really needs to be done during this election instead of promising that various "front line" services will be maintained. At the expense of what you may well ask!
    A hung parliment will reveal very quickly the true nature of our politicians. Who will be grown up, mature and professional working to get the best for the UK and all its citizens and who will be obstructive, petty, power grabbing and down right disruptive.
    I would like to see a hung parliment I want to see all our politicians in there true colours and nature... Then when there is another election hopefully the UK electorate, you and me, will remember and hand a spanking to those were not; Grown up, Mature and professional.
    K

  • Comment number 34.

    Good try Bobby, picking out a non-story to do down the Tories the day before the election.

    I presume you will write later today a story on today's debt warning from the EU or is the BBC under a self-denying ordinance on that one?

    - "Brussels economic forecasts published today predict that debt will account for nine tenths of the British economy's total value by the end of next year.

    Britain is predicted to have the highest deficit in the EU at 12 per cent of GDP this year and the figure is expected to decline "only slightly" due to the weakness of housing and financial markets.

    The EU figures, published one day before the general election, are embarrassing for Labour as they show the government's failure to cut rising debt." (DT)

  • Comment number 35.

    Actually since none of these parties has any idea of what is just around the corner (or perhaps they are too scared to mention it in case we don't vote for anybody) a 'hung' parliament sounds like a jolly good idea. Then they can stop wasting parliamentary time trying to score points off each other and get on with planning for the future in a responsible grown up way (well said #33).

    Those who think it is a bad idea are as always those with the most to lose.

    As for upsetting the markets, who cares, look what being nice to them has achieved. It is time we ran the country for everybody not just a few bankers, captains of industry and politicians so roll on a 'shared' parliament and stop referring to it as hung as if this is bad.

  • Comment number 36.

    Nice trick Prescott, sorry, Peston. 3:00 the day before a general election, a post making the Tories look bad. Way to go on the balanced view there.

    Sadly your mate Brown is too far in the smelly stuff for even your blatant bias to help him. But you did bring all the lefty bloggers out for one more fling before reality bites...

  • Comment number 37.

    We had a hung parliament in the 1970s and it was pitiful. The one advantage I can think of with regard to a hung parliament this time is that people will find out what it is really like and that with all the horse trading and increased probability of corruption, proportional representation will be put on the back burner for another generation. Furthermore, people will see the Liberal Democrats for what they are - in support of the European Super State (hello Greece!) and the kind of taxation policy that will mean that anyone with any creativity will want to get out of Britain and establish themselves somewhere else. The problem is that we're on the edge of a precipice now thanks to Gordon Brown's 10 years as Chancellor and 3 as Prime Minister and we may find that it's all too late when we next have an opportunity to vote.

    By the way, I run my own company and have done for more than 15 years. When I first set up it was so easy to employ and drive new business. Now, with all the regulations, most of them petty, all of them expensive, it makes creating an innovative business far more difficult meaning many fewer jobs that we can hand out and I have yet to understand who gains apart from public sector workers who oversee this rubbish. Labour is not about the working class, it's about the state, state and more state.

  • Comment number 38.

    #19 Piers_Corbyn
    "Frankly in the last week only Gordon Brown has Answers & Vision the others are empty game show hosts"

    Oh dear, no, stop, please. Funnier than Norman Wisdom breathing helium!

    Remind me not to go where you do to buy specs. The only answers Brown has are the ones he looked up in 'Janet & John Play at Economics'.

  • Comment number 39.

    21. At 4:38pm on 05 May 2010, jobsagoodin

    It was never going to happen. Somehow Labour now appear to be catching up. The Conservatives may not even get largest party and we know exactly where that goes.

    Champagne in the fridge. Anything other than a Conservative victory and out it comes.

  • Comment number 40.

    At least a hung parliament with a coalition would ensure that we were governed by politicians elected by more than 36% of the electorate and the more extreme measures of the parties would be curbed - ie a conservative/liberal coalition would hopefully prevent cutting taxes for the bankers and millionaires and a liberal/labour coalition should ensure a fairer voting system -

  • Comment number 41.

    triumvirates successfully ruled the roman empire - Clegg Brown and Cameron to share the post of Prime Minister !!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    34. At 5:50pm on 05 May 2010, Framer wrote:
    The EU figures, published one day before the general election, are embarrassing for Labour as they show the government's failure to cut rising debt." (DT)

    The government is not trying to cut debt; they keep trying pretty hard to say that. Personally I blame Krugman;

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/why-endorse-the-tories/

  • Comment number 43.

    41. At 6:21pm on 05 May 2010, tony wrote:

    I can't see Cameron and Brown working together in any way. How about Johnson and Cable.

  • Comment number 44.

    The inability of the Tories to concentrate on promoting policies and why we should vote for them as leaders may yet clutch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
    It’s very similar to the Clarke / Redwood alliance, people can see through it and it is distasteful politics. For balance its also similar to Labour telling us to tactically vote.
    It completely has the reverse effect its intended to have as it plays into the hands of Clegg's "same old , same old" speaches. The sheer arrogance in telling us we are wasting our vote if we actually chose the party whose policies we are more akin to is outstanding,
    "I should point out, for the sake of balance, that by no means everyone in the City and business agrees with Sir Martin, Sir Philip or Mr. Dunstone on the perils of a hung Parliament."
    I was of the opinion that in our democracy we all had one equal vote, how cocky have these guys got that a few retailers , marketing executives or others in the city should consider themselves the guru’s of how the rest of us should be voting

  • Comment number 45.

    If the Captain and First Mate of the Titanic asked for another go would you let them? Of course not!
    Brown and Darling could have regulated the banks and built up a reserve in the boom years, but they were profligate and ignored the warning signs.
    We deserve something better! But will we get it....?

  • Comment number 46.

    #35 and #36?

  • Comment number 47.

    28. At 5:06pm on 05 May 2010, SpeakingCommonSense wrote:


    F1 - if you think our dire economic performance over the last two years has anything to do with the electoral system, you're living in cloud-cuckoo land.

    -------------------

    Perhaps, but its not too far fetched to imagine that things might not have ended up quite so bad for the UK economy if there had been a coalition government with a few alternative voices. Vince Cable did try to warn Gordon Brown of the dangerous levels of debt in 2003. Perhaps a bit more notice might have been taken if he was in government...

  • Comment number 48.

    Moderators, are you going to moderate 35 and 36?

  • Comment number 49.

    #7 Wrote "This system has led to failure and it needs to be replaced, look how much better Germany has done during the global downturn"
    - Well have they ? they have nice numbers for GDP, Profit... so far but because they use our antiquated pre-machine age Financial system they are stuck with the equation : Company Profits = Company Fixed Assets + Debt owed to German Companies (Owed by Greece and Spain and Portugal...)
    i.e. much of their 'Profit' is backed by un-repayable debt - so was never really there in the first place. Germany now has to loan these countries money to help pay off/restructure their debts, so in effect Germany goes into debt to give free Mercs to the Greeks - it was always going to happen because of the basic maths of the Sisyphus Equation as shown on the NEFS site .
    Some commentators claim that Greek fiddled it’s figures to get into the Euro zone – but if Germany is declaring profits on goods sold to countries that can never pay them back then they‘ve been fiddling their numbers as well.

  • Comment number 50.

    #35 peter_t_clarke
    "a 'hung' parliament sounds like a jolly good idea. Then they can stop wasting parliamentary time trying to score points off each other and get on with planning for the future in a responsible grown up way"

    Unfortunately it is likely to make it worse not better - the life of a hung parliament would be one long build up to the next general election, probably in about 6 months time, and in the meantime UK would go backward by standing still.

    "As for upsetting the markets, who cares..." I'm afraid a great many ordinary people, whose pensions and meagre savings (in the form of bonds or personal pensions) are tied up in equities care a great deal.

  • Comment number 51.

    47. At 6:35pm on 05 May 2010, Reada

    Prior to 2008 the debt was largely irrelevent. In 2008 it was lower than at most times during the last Conservative administration

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/downchart_ukgs.php?year=1980_2008&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=2010&chart=G0-total&bar=0&stack=1&size=l&color=c&title=UK National Debt As Percent Of GDP

    After 2008 it went north rather quickly when the bankers took all the money away.

    Household debt was more of a problem.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ah, the letter that never was! Great that you get the calls so promptly to communicate the lordships views though!

    Robert, I agree that it's not insignificant that neither the sterling rate still sitting above $1.50 nor that there has been any substantial increase in the bond yields. Still, the markets behave quite stupidly at times - hopefully this is not one of those instances when they have ignored the poll warning signs and have assumed that there actually will be a definite result. If so, next week will certainly be very interesting!

    On the lighter side - I think you'll enjoy this UK hung parliament cartoon I spotted on a South African news blog today - cruel continent, laughing at our woes like that!

    Justin (World Meltdown blog)

  • Comment number 53.

    my prediction for the election: tactical voting will turn out to be a v big factor. lib dems will disappoint on votes, but surprise on seats. ld 110, labour 210, tory 290. ld/lab coalition.

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't think the markets will mind a hung parliament unless Gordon Brown is part of it.

  • Comment number 55.

    I hope we will not have a hung parliament. Think of the expense of another General Election. You may be sure that in another 6 months or so we will have to go through this again. Please please spare us that.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    Respondent no 8 debtjuggler, raises an interesting point
    If most of the leading businessmen [I have not seen the list] who decided to sign the Tory letter condemning the Labour party's decision to raise NI as a tax on jobs are in the main engaged in the retail industries then that would explain their actions.

    Because if the vast majority of them are not really wealth creators [they don't actually provide goods and services that this country can export to boost the country's coffers] and basically they are only successful at bringing goods from overseas into this country to line their own as well as other wealthy investors pockets, then perhaps we shouldn't pay too much attention to what they have to say on this subject.

    Whilst these businessmen can quite rightly argue that the businesses they are managing do provide tens of thousands of jobs for the citizens of this country, the net effect of their activities means that more money is flowing out of the country than is flowing into it. On that basis I strongly suspect that if the same thing was happening in their businesses but the money instead was flowing out of their pockets then people would stop trading pretty quickly.

    One has to question why they are so keen to support one party more than another especially one that is long on rhetoric and with no track record of achievment.

  • Comment number 58.


    > Sir Philip Green has just telephoned me to put on the
    > record that he and Charles Dunstone personally think
    > that a hung Parliament would be bad for the UK.

    Green doesn't live here - he'd rather spend more time with
    his money in Monaco. So his opinion means diddly squat.
    And why does he phone on Dunstone's behalf - surely he, of
    all people, has his own telephone!

  • Comment number 59.

    A hung parliament really is the only way to get unpopular policies through. If the Tories attempt to slash jobs in the public sector or Labour try to overtax 'the wealthy' then the victims will claim that the decisions were taken out of spite.
    If a collegiate decision is made after intelligent(?) discussion, it is just possible that the public might accept the hard decisions as genuinely in the public interest.
    A properly constituted balanced parliament could ease a lot of tension!

  • Comment number 60.

    It's hard to know what to do. I can't vote for Labour because
    they are too warlike. And I can't vote Conservative, because of
    the threat of Thatcherism.

    If I could vote for a "hung parliament", I'd definitely do so,
    just to be a nuisance for the Greens and Dunstones of this world.

  • Comment number 61.

    The 'letter' was just a bad idea - the number of permutations and effects of a HP is massive ...

    so the business leaders actually proved their business credentials here by not commenting on an unknown outcome

    is this really a story?

    Perhaps the wording of the letter was 'wrong' and should have been improved?

  • Comment number 62.

    I don't quite understand how individual voters can avoid a hung parliament. If a Tory is saying that we must avoid a hung parliament, I presume he means we should vote Tory. So that is his real reason for saying it. Similarly, if a Labour supporter tells me the same thing, it is because he wants me to vote Labour. If the Tories want to avoid a hung parliament for the sake of the country, then they should be telling us to vote Labour. Similarly, Labour should tell us to vote Tory. The only other sure way of avoiding a hung parliament is for everyone to vote the way they did last time as we know that that was not a hung parliament. That seems the fairest and surest way.
    I find it annoying when someone tells me to vote to avoid a hung parliament.

    Firstly, I don't know who to vote for to do that as explained above. Secondly, it makes me think that the party saying it has no worthwhile policies and they know it. Thirdly, it goes against the democratic process and people struggled for the right to vote in this country. Fourthly, it is equivalent to telling people not to vote for the policies that they believe in. Fifthly, it like saying let’s fix the election. Lastly, it is saying none of the politicians really care about the country or democracy because they would not work together for the good of the country even if that is what the voters wanted. That should be expected from the Tories who don’t want to consider proportional representation.

    I consider it to be as bad for politics and for democracy as questions for money and the excess expenses claims in Parliament. When this comes from the Tory Party who were challenging Brown to call an election, it makes me think that they are running scared away from the electorate even though they have the richest donors and the biased media supporting them. They are also telling us to give up our vote because they are afraid of what the money men will do. These are the same money men who caused the credit crunch in the first place.

    If a hung parliament is the result of the election, I don’t think that will be a bad thing. It will be democratic as it is a result of people voting for what they wanted. It will probably mean that the wishes of more people are represented in government and, in that sense, it would be more democratic. It could be a very strong government because it is more democratic and because at least two parties will be involved.

  • Comment number 63.

    Last time I checked, "business" has no vote. Just people can vote.
    That limit on power might upset the Greens, Dunstones and Sorrells
    of this world, but that's no excuse for you to give webspace to
    these particular individuals. I don't care whether they like their bath water
    hot or luke warm, whether they prefer bacon and eggs to cheese on toast,
    nor whether they prefer Tory Toadies to the beard and sandals and brigade!

    Peston, pls. stick to business, from now on.

  • Comment number 64.

    Simon Cowell - the only thing I'd want him to endorse would be a blank cheque with my name on it.

  • Comment number 65.

    #57 g r brown

    You appear to have your namesake's gift for talking utter bilge, reducing the complex to the naively simple, and somehow thinking your making a persuasive case.

    Economics courtesy of The Beano.

  • Comment number 66.

    A correction: Philip Green does not own Arcadia - his Monaco-domiciled wife does. This technicality is crucial - it enables the Green family to avoid paying many hundreds of millions in UK tax on dividends. We don't need hugely-wealthy people like Philip Green telling us how we ought to vote if they won't pay taxes on businesess almost exclusively reliant of the goodwill and infrastructure of UK plc. No representation without taxation!

  • Comment number 67.

    For those of you putting forward the idea that the BBC has been Labour biased I hope you watched Newsnight tonight. If that was Labour biased then 1+1 does not equal 2. Talk of the weakness of a hung parliament, especially from the guy who talked about how weak the Lib/Lab pact in the 70s was, the Lib Dem following journalist making their section of the 'how the three parties did their last day' bit making it sound more of a joke than a real campaign, the last bit of the 'yes minister' bit being a mocking of the Labour manifesto etc etc... don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it was persuasive in any particular direction per say but it was, on any unbiased view, certainly NOT Labour biased. If anything I thought it was subtly persuasive towards a Tory vote if you are as yet undecided. I genuinely wish the media played less of a role in the way most people vote and played a greater role in a wider understanding of what the parties stand for did, however the modern way of doing politics in our country has made this an imposibility and we are left with politicians who won't and pretty much can't tell us the truth, a media who's vested interests make their 'views' largely irrelevant to those who know the bigger picture but vital to those who don't (i.e. it is vital for the majority that they are told how to vote by the media they 'trust' even though they don't know why they trust it, because otherwise how would they possibly answer the question asked, which is 'who is most qualified to govern our country') and an electorate largely either baffled or mislead. I've talked to SO many people who really care about politics, economics and the future of both our country and the world as a whole who have absolutely no clue what is really going on. It's a real shame.

  • Comment number 68.

    63. At 10:37pm on 05 May 2010, Jacques Cartier wrote:
    Last time I checked, "business" has no vote. Just people can vote.
    That limit on power might upset the Greens, Dunstones and Sorrells
    of this world, but that's no excuse for you to give webspace to
    these particular individuals. I don't care whether they like their bath water
    hot or luke warm, whether they prefer bacon and eggs to cheese on toast,
    nor whether they prefer Tory Toadies to the beard and sandals and brigade!



    Agreed.

    Just think we could anoy them and have a decent collaborative government too. It works just fine in Scotland and many, many other democracies. As I said before, if the employer wants team work then the employer should have team-working employees. These rich geezers should know that perfectly well. Big business is no employer of government - the voters are the employers in this game. The sooner they deal with that the better - this is not America!

  • Comment number 69.

    i have never taken any notice of the tax avoiding captains of industry and as for Simon Cowell he really should stick to things he attempts to understand, Simon this is not the X factor this real life do try and grow up.
    As for apportioning blame on the economy, perhaps we should all look at ourselves. 100% mortgages, self certification of earnings, and of course the banks. The only commodities the banks don't sell are food, fuel and drink. But given the chance they'd sell anything as long as there was a profit in it. As for Greece, you can bet your last Euro that the Greek shipping millionaires won't be tightening their collective belts.
    David Cameron for prime minister, you have to be joking, the office of First Lord of the Treasury has been debased enough without giving it to a self serving snake oil salesman. Britain needs to avoid a depression, the tories gave us that in the 30's, read your history books. The USA poured money into major construction projects (the Hoover Dam for example) and against all the right wing doom merchants spent the US out of depression. Should we follow the Cameron's wonderful economic ideas the tories will destroy not only this country but with their strange financial friends in the city they will precipitate another war. You think that Afghanistan is a disgusting waste of young men's lives wait until you see the tories at their most disgusting starting a war with human cannon fodder to prop up their friends profits and crying crocodile tears as they wrap themselves in the Union flag to honour" the dead.

  • Comment number 70.

    Robert:

    Of course, the entire idea of this Tory-backed business failed....With all due respect and thought--Why would anyone took the idea of writing this letter was a bad idea...

    (d)

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    Business leaders would better off if they warned the electorate about the dangers of Government.

  • Comment number 73.

    Wasn't it Cameron who said in the leaders debate that he wanted to see an end to politicians doing deals behind closed doors? The same man that is now courting the Ulster Unionists, behind closed doors, to help him form a coalition? And no doubt in return for any support they will get certain concessions that will shield NI from the forthcoming cuts - so much for "we're all in this together"!!! Well, I guess he couldn't find enough "racists and nutters" in Westminster to get into bed with so the Unionists will have to do, but we face the real posibility of a very minor party (in a UK-wide sense) acting as kingmakers in a hung parliament - and I thought they all wanted a new kind of politics. ha!

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Dear Madam, You wrote:
    23. At 4:43pm on 05 May 2010, virtualsilverlady wrote:
    What sort of hung parliament would be acceptable?

    One where there were so many permutations it would take weeks if at all to gain some sort of consensus.

    I have an experience of living in a mono - partisan system and, could you trust me on that(?), it doesn't feel much different. Here is why. In first past the post bi partisan system the party which is chosen has to accommodate all the spectrum of interests that compete in a society and match it with broader social needs and what we can really afford. The process is confined to the party itself which means it is realized by way of creating factions, alliances mostly of tactical value. The process, by its nature is rather clandestine. In such a process great swath of society gets effectively disenfranchised, never informed properly about choices at hand and interests playing them. Any other option is a wasted vote for the voter at question and is played by the main two. (In this election it is LibDem working effectively for Conservatives and getting for them the middle and lower middle yappies). On the contrary, multi partisan systems with full proportional (or mixed system with national and local lists - a quota from national and a quota from local lists, at least 3 MPs getting elected from any local list, parties having more than one candidate in every constituancy to avoid primaries) encourages formation of parties according to the interests. It's impossible thus for a party representing what I would call "a mature corporate interest" to claim membership and vote of the public not involved in any way but by a relation of employment. Politics comes out of this kind of transformation with more populist views expressed, which is good, as they are tested and excluded from the mainstream or therein accommodated.

    As for the markets, what they boil down to is a view of a small minority of global (as contrary to national) society and their views would be highly useful to form a global governing body. The markets are again (because it changes as ebb and flow throughout history) an exponent of rather few market makers and it serves good all the rest of society to have them accurately named and appropriately esteemed.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.