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The message to the two main parties is unambiguous. The Tories should not concentrate on EU renegotiation and Labour should backpedal on a mansion tax

- Older voters are up to two thirds more likely to vote than younger groups

- House-building, jobs and the NHS will get most support from the over 50s

- A Conservative majority is their preferred outcome but third choice is a government of national unity. 47% of Scots want a Labour SNP deal.

- Most liked politician is Nicola Sturgeon whilst 58% would cross the road to avoid Balls or Salmond

- Richard Branson would be first choice as a ‘Fantasy PM’ with Helen Mirren as Deputy

People aged over 50 are two thirds more likely to vote than those aged 18 to 24 and a third more likely than 25 to 34 year olds, so political party strategists have to take a keen interest in what this influential group is thinking and how its support can be won.

The over 50s recruitment website SkilledPeople.com polled 500 of its members across the UK on a range of election issues and came up with some clear direction for party planners. (See note 1 for breakdown.)

What is clear is that the over 50s have three priorities which, tellingly, are not immigration (17%), the EU (9%), Defence (6%) or Crime (2%). The three priority areas to win support on are the economy (47%), employment opportunities (47%) and the NHS (33%). (See note 2 for explanation of figures)

In terms of vote winning policies the ‘hot buttons’ for the over 50s are: making an open-ended commitment to the NHS (72%), liberalising employment and business regulations (69%) and building more low cost houses (66%). Could a winning strategy be that simple?

Contrary to what many politicians think, introducing a mansion tax (44%), renegotiating EU membership (38%) and cutting welfare costs (33%) are far less popular. (See note 3 for explanation of figures)

Ironically, stimulating more house building and igniting Liberal Democrat Vince Cable’s ‘bonfire of business red tape’ would cost the UK little yet have the benefit of supporting economic growth to fund NHS improvements.

The message to the two main parties is unambiguous. The Tories should not concentrate on EU renegotiation and Labour should backpedal on a mansion tax to get the votes of people who are more likely to actually vote.

The popularity of the main political leaders makes good reading for Nicola Sturgeon with whom 58% of voters would most like to spend leisure time. Cameron comes a close second at 57% and Farage third at 49%. Pity Ed Balls and Alex Salmond as the politicos that 58% of people would cross the road to avoid.

Excluding women voters moves Farage into the second most popular position and drops Balls into last position. However, for women their least liked leader is Farage of UKIP (61% would cross the road). Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett of the Greens both scored lowly due to a third of people not knowing who they are.

The SkilledPeople.com survey found a preference for a clear Conservative majority at 25% among the over 50s compared with a Labour majority at 19% but the third choice ahead of all the other possible pacts and coalitions is for a government of national unity involving all parties (16%). Does this reflect a dislike of petty party politics and a lack of differentiation between the main parties? (See note 4.)

The least liked possible outcome is a pact between Labour and the SNP, getting just 5% as a first choice outcome, or a coalition between the Tories and LibDems at 6%. Scottish voters have a very different perspective as 47% would favour a Labour SNP coalition and is their preferred outcome by far. Is this further evidence of a widening gap between attitudes north and south of the border?

Finally, given the chance to swap the current choice of politicians for some with more star quality, along the lines of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the over 50s dream team in No 10 would be Richard Branson as PM with Helen Mirren as Deputy PM. Alex Ferguson would have the role of ‘Enforcer’. For women, their choice of ‘Enforcer’ would be Anne Robinson. If only…

Useful links:

www.conservatives.com
www.greenparty.org.uk
www.labour.org.uk
www.libdems.org.uk
www.skilledpeople.com
www.snp.org
www.ukip.org/index

Ends

Notes

1. The research was conducted anonymously across the UK among 500 registered members of SkilledPeople.com during the w/e April 11, 2015. 96% of respondents were aged 50 to 70.
2011 Census figures show there were 7.7m people aged 50-59 and 8.6m people aged 20-29.

2. Respondents were asked to rank issues on scale of 1= most important to 10= Least important. The % quoted relates to the proportion of people who rated the issue 1 or 2, ie. highly important.

3. Figures relate to the % of respondents who said the policy should definitely be done now.

4. Figures show % of people who chose the option as a ‘Best outcome’.

5. Quotes and comments from respondents can be supplied on request.

About SkilledPeople.com: it is the leading website for jobseekers aged over 50. Our aim is to connect employers looking for people with 20 years or more business experience with high quality people who can make a contribution quickly and economically. We run on Social Enterprise lines. The shareholders provide all funding and no profits are distributed. A single recruitment posting costs just £95 making it very cost effective for employers. Charities and not for profit organisations receive preferential terms.

For more information:
Keith Simpson, Director, SkilledPeople.com
keith@skilledpeople.com / Office: 020 8944 6177 / Mobile: 07939 156 779

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