Despite Labour pledging to protect producers by expanding the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator in its manifesto last month, businesses were less trusting of the party, Julian Wild, head of the food team at Rollits solicitors, told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“It’s not my opinion and it’s not just food and drink businesses saying this. Businesses tend to be pro-Conservatives because there is a view that the Conservatives have managed the economy better than the Labour party had [in the past] or will.”
One clear winner
Like many analysts, Wild believed there wouldn’t be one clear winner from the general election and, if it came to power, Labour would go into a coalition with the SNP. However, Labour leader Ed Milliband had rejected this idea.
Such a partnership would be “calamitous”, prime minister David Cameron said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday (April 19), as the SNP did not want the UK to succeed.
“Frankly, this is a group of people that would not care what happened in the rest of the country,” Cameron said.
“The rest of the UK – Wales, Northern Ireland and England – would not get a look-in and that is the prospect we face if we don’t get the majority Conservative government that’s within our reach.”
Other commentators believed, if Labour won and went into a coalition with the SNP, party leader Nicola Sturgeon would “wear the trousers”.
‘Concerning for business’
Wild added: “I think a Labour/SNP coalition looks to be the most probable outcome of the general election, and that’s going to be concerning for [English, Welsh and Northern Irish] businesses.”
However, Cameron’s pledged to let the public decide on an EU referendum had caused concern among food and drink manufacturers.
Terry Scuoler, the boss of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: “Maintaining the UK’s role at the heart of a reformed EU is absolutely critical for our prosperity and businesses will want reassurance that any future Conservative government will campaign strongly on this basis.”
Growth in UK food and drink relied on a good relationship with the EU and being a member was vital for its growth, Scuoler added.
A Labour spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: "Labour will return Britain to a leadership role in a reformed European Union and protect jobs and investment by staying in the EU.
"Labour will reduced unnecessary regulation by asking our new Small Business Administration to coordinate work across government to benefit smaller businesses and cut unnecessary regulation."
Meanwhile, the SNP set out an “alternative to austerity” in its manifesto, which was published today.