Industry considers effects of hung parliament

Early election results have been greeted with dismay by industry figures as fears of political stasis and a possible second election begin to bite.

Key politicians have held their seats, including Food, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Hilary Benn and his shadow Minister Nick Herbert, but with no clear winner in the general election, potentially weeks of political wrangling will begin today.

HTA chairman David Gwyther said:  "I find it quite extraordinary that Britain is able to have a general election and see all three main parties lose it.  Behind that must lay the concern now that there will be continued uncertainty which will disturb the financial markets which isn't great for our industry and our members.  It will lead to lower consumer confidence and that isn't good for our industry either so we would like to see politicians sort it out quickly.  I am very concerned to hear that they might all huddle up for weeks trying to sort it out."

Discussing the impact on the domestic market, Johnsons of Whixley managing director Andrew Richardson warned of particularly tough times ahead for landscape contractors.

Richardson said:  "I think its absolutely dire for the nation, at a time when we needed a good strong government, with a strong mandate, we are just going to go through about three months of confusion.  In the past when this has happened there has been a second election; we have already had months where there are no decisions made, and with a second election it will be Christmas before any government has settled in.  That means it could be a year of no decision making just at a time when we can least afford it."

Whetman Pinks are one of the country's biggest horticultural exporters and they will be affected by the substantial drop in the pound that greeted the news of a hung parliament.

Operations Director Andrew Spillsbury said:  "Obviously it's not in anybody's interest for us to have a weak government.  All this uncertainty will likely have a dampening effect on trade."

Edibles growers too, were disappointed at the result.

The British Independent Fruit Growers Association Chairman John Breech said:  "In my personal opinion the uncertainty is unfortunate. Farming and growing don't stop for elections. Crops have got to be planted and the nation must be fed so we have to carry on. It must be upsetting for a lot of businesses and the fluctuation in the exchange rate will cut both ways."

Retailers may be the one sector to escape the worst of the pain, according to Scotsdale Garden Centre managing director Caroline Owen.

Owen said: "I think probably it plays into the retailers hands. It certainly creates difficulties but from a retailers point of view I think it means that people will stay at home and hopefully spend money on their gardens."

The results for key politicians were as follows:


  • -Lab Hilary Benn (Leeds Central):  hold, swing -10.2 per cent, majority 10,645
  • -Con Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs): hold, swing +7.4 per cent, majority 16,691
  • -Lib Dem Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale):  hold, swing + 14%, majority 12,264
  • -Con Jim Paice (Cambridgeshire South East):  hold, swing +0.8 per cent, majority 5,946 poll

Meanwhile it seems horticulturalists will be hoping that the Conservatives can do a deal with the Liberal Democrats if the the results of our poll are to be believed.

Our election poll found that the party considered best for horticulture was the Conservative Party which garnered 21.5% of the votes closely followed by the Liberal Democrats at 18.5%. The Green Party claimed 16% of the vote but Labour only managed to draw 6.1% of support from our readers.

However 21.5% of readers felt that the party elected would be insignificant to the prospects of the horticulture industry.


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