Election reflection

It seems that the entire nation was shocked by the Conservative’s majority win in the General Election but many in the infrastructure sector were hoping for this outcome. Analysis conducted by Infrastructure Intelligence before 7th May showed that the engineering sector was voting blue.

Infrastructure business leaders said Tories were best for their business

At Infrastructure Intelligence we had a feeling that many of our readers were supporting the Conservatives. Anecdotally they had told us that they wanted to retain infrastructure investment momentum and preserve stability in the economy. But when the results of our poll, conducted with the help of global software firm Deltek, came in we were surprised at how decisive the results were. Overall 120 CEOs, directors and managers, from consultants, contractors, suppliers and clients gave us their views with 67% reporting Conservatives best for infrastructure and 49% planning to vote for them.

“I am voting conservative because all the other options will influence economic uncertainty, this will have an effect on interest rates and this will influence opportunities and investment,” said the CEO of a contracting firm. “We have built momentum behind the National Infrastructure Plan and invested accordingly,” said another senior consultant. “Rumours that infrastructure spend could be subject to reviews, emergency budgets and curtailment if we have a change of government are worrying as growth and investment will inevitably stall.”

Post-election threats

The Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government had been good for infrastructure and their tenure seemed to bring about a turning point in political thinking with public acknowledgement that infrastructure is good for the economy – which it is. Construction and related sectors were devastated by the recession and financial crisis yet they held their breath, dug deep, fought on, and are finally exhaling as measures such as the very welcome NIP published in December 2013 and major projects such as the Thames Tideway and Crossrail give certainty. But there is no doubt in my mind that much of the Blue support was a result of seeking to maintain the status quo and would have been Red, Yellow or Green support for whoever was in power during the recovery that had overseen their return to growth.

Looking ahead though the new government has some important decisions to make on critical issues such as aviation capacity, energy generation (UK headed for tightest reserve margin in years this winter) and rail investment (HS2, HS3, Crossrail 2). For now the sector has put its faith in David Cameron’s government and Cameron must make the decisions that allow the industry to deliver the infrastructure that the UK needs to support economic growth.

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