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Certain about uncertainty

There are only three certainties about the next general election: firstly, it will be on 7 May; secondly, it will be a completely different prospect to the last one in 2010; and thirdly, and most importantly for our industry, no one has any idea what the outcome will be.

Obviously, we know that any new government will be led by Labour or Conservative, but after that it all gets a little fuzzy.

The Tories could have the most seats without a majority, but if the predicted Lib Dem meltdown happens, they may have to rely on a rainbow alliance of Unionists and UKIP to stay in power.

How strong the UKIP vote proves to be could be the difference between that party winning more seats or getting just enough support to let in more Labour MPs.

Labour’s problem is that it stands a good chance of losing its MPs in Scotland, on whom it relies for any absolute majority.

So Labour could find itself relying on support from Scottish and/or Welsh Nationalists, with all the new uncertainty that could bring.

What will happen to the rump of the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg is anyone’s guess.

The key word here is uncertainty. Any alliance Labour can build is likely to pull it to the left, so where does that leave the debt reduction?

If the Tories have to rely on UKIP, where does that leave our relationship with Europe, and what would really happen if we decide to leave? These are questions that apply equally to our industry and our domestic lives.

The future of the UK for decades to come could depend on the results of just one or two constituencies.

If there is one thing the financial and commodity markets hate, it is a lack of concrete evidence on which to base their assumptions.

What we have here is the mother lode of uncertainty, such as questions over the value of the pound and the euro.

All this adds up to a climate where investors prefer to put their money into safe commodities, such as gold, or invest in companies and real estate in more certain economic countries – if there are any of those left. If all else fails, they will just keep their money in their pockets in the form of a stable currency.

This is the key point as far as our industry is concerned, especially as far as higher duty equipment is concerned.

If no one is investing, then no one is building, and if construction projects grind to a halt in the run-up to the election, the prime market for larger systems will not be buying.

This hiatus could last from now until well past the election. It took six days to conclude the 2010 coalition agreement; if things are far more complicated, it could take weeks to sort things out.

It could be months before the consequences of any coalition agreement become clear, meaning an investment blight that could stretch into 2016.

That’s the worse-case scenario – let’s hope the clear victor in this election is certainty.

Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director of Clivet UK

 

 

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