08 May WHO SAYS BUSINESS AND POLITICS DON’T MIX?
“Not another bloody election…” Politics eh? If I had a 12-sided pound coin for every time I’ve heard that from clients in the last few weeks, I’d be retiring soon.
Next month’s general election will mean most Scots have been asked to vote seven times in the past three years. And that means the chances of your business having to engage with politicians and the media will never be greater.
The occasional election can be good for business. A bit of change at council, Holyrood or Westminster can see a refresh of old policies or a whole new manifesto being implemented. But election campaigns especially in high profile or target seats where the incumbent party is likely to change (like Edinburgh West or the Scottish Borders) means the chance of media interest in ‘the business view’ will be much greater.
The last few years have seen a period where political views have polarised and the main parties of the left and right in UK politics have retreated to their respective corners and come up with ever more radical policies.
Businesses like certainty – and that has been in precious short supply in recent times. We see divisions within divisions as all the old rules of political engagement keep getting rewritten – Corbyn elected, and re-elected; Brexit that no-one prepared for; and, well, Trump. Throw in the hint of a Le Pen victory in France and you just know that normal politics seems even further away than ever.
As a political consultant and media trainer for nearly 30 years, I used to enjoy elections as a time of change and renewal. Now I almost dread them. I say almost as they can bring a wave of new elected members with a sense of enthusiasm to meet people and work with businesses in their constituency or sector of interest, be that a distillery or a new housing development or just about anything else. But that quickly fades and soon party lines creep back in around the elephant of choice in the room, be that indyref2, or Brexit, or both.
So, all in all, the next few weeks’ present as many challenges as they do solutions to those seeking to simply do business. Knowing your elected members at a time of increased European uncertainty – and making sure you are ready for media demands – will always be a prudent use of time. But doing nothing is probably the worst option. Buckle up.