Publicans have given the Conservatives a resounding thumbs up ahead of the vote on 7 May with more than four in 10 stating they will vote for the party.
The next most popular choice was the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which — perhaps in a nod to leader Nigel Farage’s pub-friendly persona — 19% of respondents said they would vote for. This was followed by the ‘undecideds’ (15%) and Labour (12%).
Pint-supping Farage was named as the party leader most would like a drink with — almost half of respondents said they would have a pint with the UKIP chief, ahead of David Cameron (29%) and Ed Miliband (8%).
The survey painted a grim picture for the prospects of the Liberal Democrats, with just 6% of readers saying they would vote for the party, currently the junior partner in the coalition Government. Only 4% said they would like a pint with leader Nick Clegg.
Respondents rated Cameron as the party leader who would be the best Prime Minister for the UK with more than half (57%) endorsing him. Some 20% thought Farage would be best suited for a stint at Number 10 — despite the fact he’s not yet an MP. Labour leader Miliband was favoured by only 13% of respondents.
The survey revealed that licensees are mostly engaged in the political process, with almost all respondents saying they intend to vote in the general election, and seven in 10 claiming they have always voted in the past.
When asked what the most important election issues to them are, the economy came out on top, cited by nine in 10 respondents, followed by health/NHS, immigration and law and order.
In terms of trade-specific issues that licensees want the next government to focus on, a cut in VAT for pubs was the clear winner, something the current Government has consistently ruled out. Business rates reform, further reductions in beer duty, action on utilities and employment costs, and the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol were all seen as important.
More than half of PMA readers (54%) don’t feel that, overall, the Government has been ‘pub-friendly’ in its five years of power, despite introducing a range of measures designed to help the trade; the scrapping of the alcohol duty escalator, a hat-trick of beer duty cuts, support with business rates and employment costs and enhanced planning protection.
The online poll was completed by a self-selecting sample of 367 licensees.