This industry tends to back Tories over Labour, but as David Cameron's prospects improve should we worry for our future?
Be careful what you wish for. Yes, it’s a painful old cliché, but it is apt: since the 2005 general election, the construction industry has been consistently Tory. A poll Building conducted among readers three years ago put the Conservative Party 3.5% ahead of Labour, though then-prime minister Tony Blair went on to prove that he had the support of the electorate at large.
It’s safe to say that the built environment industry now has the Tories way out in front. But senior property and construction figures have warned me that they are fearful what a David Cameron government might mean for their future workload.
It all centres round new London mayor Boris Johnson – apparently electable when he combs his hair – and his appointment of Westminster Council leader Sir Simon Milton as senior planning adviser.
Yes, we all know Milton is opposed to tall buildings; we also know that the capital is not the be all and end all for a geographically diversified industry like construction. Milton will draw up a new tall buildings strategy for London and simply won’t be as developer friendly as Ken Livingstone’s regime. That is all.
It all centres round new London mayor Boris Johnson – apparently electable when he combs his hair –
Or maybe not. Speculation is mounting that Milton’s appointment is a dry run for a future role in a Cameron cabinet. If successful in his new role, word has it that Milton might be given a peerage. As a member of the House of Lords, Milton could enter the cabinet with little argument – and would most likely specialise in something like housing or planning.
While this is a long way off and I seriously doubt that Milton would find his way beyond being made a junior minister if this scenario did play out, this theory should not be ruled out. Remember, Johnson’s regime is generally viewed as an example of the picture the Tories might paint on a broader canvas.
And if that’s the case, it could well be that a Cameron government ignores those that have backed the Tories even in a losing cause.
Mark Leftly works on the business desk of the Independent on Sunday. Construction and commercial property are two of the beats he covers on the newspaper. Mark's views should not be confused as being those of the Independent on Sunday.