British election in the balance, could result in hung Parliament

Conservative Party head David Cameron is tipped to steal power from Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the British federal election, although a solid result is not expected to be announced for several hours as the possibility of a hung Parliament remains very real.

But on a sour note, the British Electoral Commission has publically apologised for the mismanagement of the polling process with claims that people were actually turned away from voting booths.

Labour, led by current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is attempting to hold onto power by marketing the government as an experienced team of experts, well equipped to lead the country out of the financial crisis.

But Cameron has appealed to voters as a much-needed breath of fresh air from the Labour administration, which he says has botched the country’s response to the crisis and isn’t equipped to lead.

But neither may be able to gain an outright majority, with a hung Parliament remaining a strong possibility according to the latest exit polls. The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, remain largely neck-and-neck.

Among the three political forces, the Conservative Party has marketed itself as the most business friendly, with corporate tax cuts on its agenda along with a significant amount of reform flagged to reduce red-tape and tax complexity.

Cameron has repeatedly said the following is on the Conservative agenda:

  • Cutting the main corporate tax rate from 28% to 25% and slashing the small business rate from 22% to 20%.
  • Exempt all businesses starting in the first two years of a Conservative Government from Employers’ National Insurance on the first ten employees.
  • Reduce red-tape by introducing a rule whereby new regulations cannot be introduced unless one has been reduced for another issue.
  • Reduce the amount of forms needed to start a new business, with the goal of becoming the fastest country in the world in which to start a business.
  • Simplify business tax with a five-year reform, which Cameron says will provide certainty for small businesses.
  • Extend Government procurement to SMEs but cutting admin requirements, with the aim of 25% of all contracts going to SMEs.
  • Increase Britain’s exports to make it the leading hi-tech exporter of manufactured goods.
  • Make small business rate relief automatic, and create “more diverse sources of credit” for SMEs.

Meanwhile, Labour has promised to continue the economic recovery, saying it will increase competition between banks so SMEs can access credit in order to stimulate the economy, and keep reducing administration and red tape burdens for businesses.

But a recent Financial Times poll indicates larger businesses aren’t so receptive to that message, with just 10 out of 61 major manufacturers saying they view Labour’s business revival strategy with confidence – 50% said they preferred the Conservative Party.

Meanwhile, the British Electoral Commission has said there will be an investigation into claims that people were turned away from voting booths and that ballot papers were unavailable at some locations.

It has been said that 40 voters were turned away with a seat holding less than 1,000 voters, with Labour Deputy Harriet Harman saying a legal challenge could be a possibility.

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