Ben Page is chief executive of Ipsos MORI, says Yes
The views of business leaders and major employers do matter, and we know that 86 per cent of the FTSE 500 think that a Conservative government would be best for business. It’s a free country and freedom of speech matters. But despite the party having a lead on economic competence, the Conservatives remain much more disliked than Labour by the public. Given how close the General Election is, business leaders may need to be careful not to over-egg their support of the Conservative Party. Most people say they don’t trust business people to tell the truth, and they already suspect that the Conservative Party favours the better off, so don’t expect this to be a game changer. Indeed, if very wealthy business people are too strident in their opinions about the election, they may find it is simply counterproductive.
Chris Rumfitt is founder and chief executive of Corporate Reputation Consulting, says No
Everyone has the right to have their say in a General Election. But when you lead a big business, you need to think carefully before having that say emblazoned on the front page of a newspaper. What are your shareholders going to make of it? Or your employees? Their views will encompass all parts of the political spectrum. Moreover, think about the next time you sit down with a Labour Cabinet (or shadow) minister. The first line of the briefing they will receive from their advisers will read “signed anti-Labour letter”. And think about your chances of getting success from that meeting. Finally, think about contentious practices in your business. Tax avoidance? Your pay? The chances of scrutiny of these is enhanced by signing the letter. So my advice is to have your say through the ballot box, not on the front page of a newspaper. The risks outweigh any advantage.