Retail leaders are bracing themselves for the possible “nightmare” that could follow a hung parliament being formed after next week’s election.
With current polls putting all three major parties in close contention, retailers fear a hung parliament would mean a period of limbo where no decisive, important decisions are made.
The concerns were aired as Sir Philip Green lent his support to David Cameron in an event at the Fashion Retail Academy last week. Iceland chief executive Malcolm Walker warned: “A hung parliament would be a nightmare as nothing would get done.
“We need an overwhelming majority, and it seems that the Tories are our best option now. We need a benevolent dictator but is Cameron a benevolent dictator? I’m not sure.
“GB Ltd is like a company, and we need a strong CEO and don’t want a management team locked in indecision. The new government needs to tackle the deficit and needs a leader to go in in the same way as a new chief executive would go into a company that is heading for administration. It takes a bit of pain but otherwise it will go bust.”
He urged all the parties to be clear on their agenda for business growth. “There is no agenda to create growth. From a business perspective there is an opportunity to invest to encourage businesses to come to this country. We need tax and grant incentives to bring businesses here. We need to make the UK a competitive and aggressive business environment on a global level.”
Selfridges chief executive Paul Kelly was also fearful of a hung parliament. “Indecision in life, like in business, is energy-sapping and time-wasting,” he said. “We need a strong, decisive government, free to manoeuvre and implement policies that will help all of us, not just retailers, thrive in a robust economy.”
Speaking at the event, Green said: “There is a takeover of GB Plc going to happen on May 6. What we need now is a clean start - we really can’t leave it as it is.”