Help with deciding which party to vote for at the general election

Parliament has yet to be dissolved, the TV debating lecterns are getting their final polish and the soap boxes are as yet unturned.

But the general election is coming closer and closer, and with it comes the responsibility of making up your mind and casting your vote.

Some people don’t have to think about it – they are diehard Labour supporters or steadfast Tories. “Have been since birth”, “My family has always voted this way”, “I’d never vote for THAT lot”.

But this year there seems to be less of these evangelical voters than ever before. The rise of the SNP in Scotland and UKIP down south have given voters a larger mixture of choice and alternative “visions of the future” than they have had for many generations.

The recession has also damaged the authority of the major parties, and provided a feeling that things now need to be done differently – with new thoughts and ideas.

In many ways it’s an “up for grabs” election to steal a phrase from an old piece of Brian Moore football commentary. Voters are there to be won, to be persuaded away from one camp to another.

But this brings a big responsibility for the voter. If one has to really consider and weigh up the pros and cons behind the policies and ambitions of all the parties rather than just blindly putting an X next to red, blue, or gold then you have to start forming your opinions now.

One of the main areas you need to focus on is which one of my various everyday guises am I voting on behalf of.

Sounds confusing?

Think about it. You are a leader of a business, an entrepreneur, an employee, an investor or shareholder.

But of course you are also an individual – a mum or dad, grandparent, brother or sister.

You have personal concerns and interests. Sport, theatre, helping local charities, coaching local kids. You may be upset about spending cuts to youth activities or conversely excited about new facilities.

You have friends who may be overly-stressed doctors or nurses, or a factory worker on zero-hours contracts or a soldier looking at an increasingly unstable world.

Perhaps you have been to a care home with your parents and been left angry and appalled by its condition or a hospital with a sick child and frustrated with waiting times. Conversely you may have left that hospital pleased with the service and how it has improved.

So many factors to consider, but which part of your life – businessperson, parent, concerned friend, social activist – should be given more weight when you ponder who to vote for on 7 May?

Read more about the 2015 general election:

In an ideal world you would find the party which ticks all the boxes. The one which will help boost your business, look after your sick child, help education and the arts and cultures grow, spend more on sporting facilities and provide your friends with respectful work.

But that’s unattainable. Not one political party will ever be able to make the UK a version of paradise.

So what part of the parties manifesto do you focus on? As a businessperson committed to the development of you firm, its expansion, the protection of your employees wages then you must be single-minded.

You have to vote for the party you think is best for business rather the one you think is best for the NHS, education, for transport, for defence, the environment or the protection of cuddly animals.

If the party you believe will best help your business flourish is also, in your opinion the best for any of the above issues, then it is an added bonus. That’s all.

It’s not even a case of putting your business ahead of your family – because as every boss and employee knows, being successful at work helps at home as well.

It pays the energy or school bills, it helps you to buy nice things, go and see family and friends and enjoy life.

So pour over those manifestos. Look at the parties offering your types of business and your sector the best opportunities.

What are their policies on exporting, tax breaks, investment incentives, apprentices, training, physical and digital infrastructure?

What are their policies on pay, the living wage and minimum wage, enterprise zones, local powers etc? What value do they give to growing businesses?

What is going to give your business the best advantage?

When the politicians knock on your door and ask for your vote don’t just swish them away saying you’ve got a pan of baked beans on the boil.

Talk to them, confront them. Tell them who you are, what you do, what you want their party to do. It’s a great opportunity to get your message across.

You have to vote for yourself on 7 May – it will be you lining up in the queue and pulling the curtain in the booth.

You carry a lot of responsibilities in there with you. But make it a vote not just for yourself but for your business.

Image: Shutterstock

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