Conservative Party takes 3.5% more votes than Labour, despite support for government’s construction policies

The Conservative party holds a 3.5% lead over Labour among construction employees, according to a Building survey of more than 430 readers.

Michael Howard’s party holds the advantage despite 47% of respondents stating that Labour had the best policies for construction. Only 30% said the Tories would provide the best policies, with the Liberal Democrats trailing on just 12%.

Michael Chambers, RICS director of policy strategy, said: “There’s a feeling that the property industry is Conservative, with construction probably broader. They would think Labour would be better for construction, as a Labour government is expected to spend more.”

The survey split construction into eight professions (see opposite), and four of them gave a lead to the Conservatives outright. Backing was strongest among subcontractors, with 63% support, and QSs, with 41%. The Tories also tied with Labour among contractors, with the parties equally dividing 70% of the profession.

Labour has just one outright constituency – architects – but shared the clients and public bodies sectors with the Liberal Democrats.

Charles Kennedy’s party scored one outright win, with 33% of the “other” category voting yellow. This was perhaps an example of tactical anti-Tory voting, as some 77% of those surveyed in this sample believe that Michael Howard would cut public sector spending after the election.

The industry as a whole appears to be behind recent calls from leading sector figures to consolidate construction in one government department – currently, housing is in the ODPM and construction sponsorship is in the DTI. Nearly 81% of respondents wanted a consolidated ministry and 79% said that construction was not well represented in government.

Among the comments made by respondents were the following:

  • “John Prescott has to be replaced”
  • “Withdrawal from the EU is the priority. All other issues could then be solved more easily”
  • “Why disband NHS Estates when it had at last got its act together?”
  • “None of the parties seems to have made hard proposals that would encourage a business environment that promotes or pushes the construction industry to modernise its practices and structure”
  • “Inadequate approach to sustainability and energy policy. Direct and indirect inefficiencies in PFI create delays and prevent use of lifecycle costing to select optimum designs.”

Of 432 respondents, 35.6% said they would vote Conservative; 32.2% said Labour; 23.1% said Liberal Democrats; and 9% other.

The winner of the election survey draw was consultant Gordon Lovell from Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, who gets £50 of drinks vouchers.

Election focus group: The final verdict on the campaign

With less than a week until polling day, Building’s panel members tell us who is the frontrunner to secure their vote. Interviews by Eleanor Snow

It’s make-your-mind-up time. Who are you going to vote for?

Georgia Elliot-Smith, director of environmental and sustainable consultancy Element 4

I’ve swayed towards the Green Party as it represents the issues that are important to me, even though I don’t agree with all its policies. I think Labour will go on to another term due to the lack of effective opposition, but I hope that by voting Green it will make them realise that it is time to get serious on the environment.

John Cowell (brother of Simon), managing director of construction consultancy Cowellco

I shall be voting Labour – although I feel that I may live
to regret it. No doubt there will be a lot of “I told you so” over the coming four years. However, perhaps in this period we may see New Tory emerge with a credible offer and some inspirational leadership.

Roger Feast, chairman of construction company McLaren

Still voting Conservative, and I expect them to govern fairly and to stick to their core beliefs. My biggest question is how the money we pay in taxes will be spent.

David Chisholm, managing director of architect John Thompson and Partners

I am still intending to vote Labour. But I’m disappointed
that the campaign hasn’t moved on to higher plane and focused on the environment and global poverty. I’m also disappointed that so much emphasis has been placed on “violent crime”. I live close to Hackney’s “murder alley” but do not live in fear of my life.

I am much more affected by “oafishness” and inconsiderate behaviour and I would have liked to see more debate about promoting a more civilised society.

Breakdown of results by profession

Labour gain

  • 40% will vote Labour
  • 70% think Labour has the best policies for construction industry
  • 65% name red tape and regulation as one of the key election issues facing construction
    (20 surveyed)

    Clients and public bodies
    Labour–Lib Dem tie

  • 32% will vote Labour; 32% will vote Lib Dem
  • 45% think Labour has the best policies for construction
  • 77% think that construction is poorly represented within government
    (31 surveyed)

    Conservative gain

  • 40% will vote Conservative
  • 47% think that Labour has the best policies for construction
  • 58% say that a cut-back on public spending after the election would affect their business
    (118 surveyed)

    Labour–Conservative tie

  • 35% will vote Labour; 35% will vote Conservative
  • 46% think that Labour has the best policies for construction
  • 43% think that Tony Blair would make the best prime minister
    (79 surveyed)

    Conservative gain

  • 38% will vote Conservative
  • 38% think that Labour has the best policies for construction
  • 46% are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with Labour’s performance
    (13 surveyed)

    Quantity surveyors
    Conservative gain

  • 41% will vote Conservative
  • 51% think that Labour has the best policies for construction
  • 84% think that the government should consolidate construction into one department
    (63 surveyed)

    Conservative gain

  • 63% will vote Conservative
  • 63% think that the Conservatives have the best policies for construction
  • 75% think that the Conservatives would run the economy most effectively
    (16 surveyed)

    Other (analyst, housing association etc)
    Lib Dem gain

  • 33% will vote Liberal Democrat
  • 46% think that Labour has the best policies for construction
  • 77% think the Conservatives are the most likely to cut back on public sector spending after the election
    (92 surveyed)

    Overall survey sample: 432

  • Related files/tables