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.