Prunella Scales for Prime Minister?

2005

The main political parties may have started whipping themselves into a fever ahead of the May 5 General Election, but a new poll has suggested that if people elected a company rather than politicians, they would choose Tesco.

The supermarket giant came top of a survey by City business recovery firm Begbies Traynor, which asked 500 people which company they would most like to see run the country.

It secured 16 per cent of the popular vote, compared with only five per cent for Sainsbury’s, despite its close links with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, currently riding a wave over his school diners’ campaign.

Large, international businesses with well-known brands and products dominated the voting, with BP, HSBC and IBM receiving more than a third of the total votes, either for or against.

BP, HSBC and IBM got more than 10 per cent of positive nominations, with people feeling they had credibility, were effective communicators and had a track record of success.

Several smaller UK-based companies also did well, including Majestic Wine, Lastminute.com and JD Wetherspoon, who, with six per cent, were nominated as viable “country runners”.

With the economy set to be a central battleground over the next month, big banks and financial service companies were well represented, with Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Abbey all getting votes alongside HSBC.

Nick Hood, senior London partner of Begbies Traynor, said: "Global businesses scored well in our poll. These are well scrutinised by the media and spend considerable sums on advertising and marketing, so it’s not that surprising the public associates this level of exposure with financial strength and skilled management.

"This said, global companies and brands picked up their fair share of brickbats, and visibility can sometimes lead equally to disapproval among the voting public."

Those the public said they would not like to see in charge included big cigarette companies and global fast food chains, along with those suffering high-profile financial woes, such as Allders.

A number of US companies also had a strong negative response, including Starbucks, Gap and Nike.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Enron, Poly Peck and WorldCom also together picked up an overwhelming 51 per cent of the negative votes.

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