Name the Business Secretary
Three-quarters of business owners are unable to name the Secretary of State for Business, Peter Mandelson, new research has revealed.
The survey of 500 small firms by business price comparison firm Make it Cheaper also found that 89% of businesses were unable to name the Conservative shadow business secretary, Ken Clarke.
“It’s clear there is a massive disconnect between the main political parties and people who work in local businesses, the people who are at the very heart of the economy,”
said Make it Cheaper managing director, Jonathan Elliott.
“The vast majority of those we asked were unable to name the Secretary of State for Business or his shadow colleague.
“These guys should be out there talking to the people who are on the front line of the economy,” he added. “Instead, our survey shows they are judged as not understanding business pressures and having no impact on the daily lives of local businesses.”
Forum of Private Business spokesman, Phil McCabe, said that politicians needed to engage more directly with small firms.
“The results of the survey are surprising and worrying. In the present election campaign, politicians have been visiting business premises and that should be more than just electioneering — it should happen all year round.”
“There are some small business forums, for example the Small Business Finance Forum, at which groups such as the FPB represent the views of our members. It is also important for small businesses to be engaged in politics and to be aware which individuals are responsible for the laws and the enterprise environment in which their businesses exist — that is their responsibility, too.”
“Not enough parliamentary candidates and MPs have direct experience of small businesses. We need decision makers to know what it is like to run a small business.”
Federation of Small Businesses spokesman, Eric Beech, said that Mandelson has made an effort to engage with small firms:
“Peter Mandelson was one of the keynote speakers at the FSB conference the week before Easter and he made an effort to spend time understanding the issues of smaller firms. It is surprising that so few firms know the business secretary’s name, but perhaps some are more familiar with the small business minister, Mervyn Davies.”
“However, ministers should and can do more for the small business sector. Politicians should be more engaged, by regularly speaking to small businesses around the country and finding out what their issues and concerns are.”
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was unable to respond in the run-up to the 6 May General Election.
The Make it Cheaper survey also revealed that many business owners would rather be represented by celebrities rather than the current political leaders. A total of 63% of business owners would rather have Gordon Ramsay in power than Gordon Brown, and 58% think that Peter Stringfellow would make a better front-bencher than David Cameron.