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Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster

They say a week is a long time in politics but little is written about how small margins can make a big difference, in politics and elsewhere. Let me explain. I am giving a presentation to the UK LPG Annual Conference this week, and the topic given involved me looking at the role played by consumers and voters in determining policy. Without giving too much away I looked at this through numbers, here's one - 11,965. If this number of voters in just 24 constituencies had not voted Conservative but instead for whoever was their closest challenger, then David Cameron would have the same number of MPs as in 2010 and would need a Coalition to govern.

So what you ask. Well the total electorate of the UK was 46,420,413 - yes 0.03 per cent of the electorate have determined the outcome of the election and any consequential change to energy policy (which have been numerous already). Now imagine making future decisions in your business, with the risk of failure depending upon a change of that amount. To say it would be exposed is an understatement. And the bad news, well the next election is likely to produce similar figures - the party of government determined by a tiny fraction of the UK's population.

The importance of having a long-term cross-party approach to energy policy therefore becomes obvious. Our world, with investment decisions spanning decades, needs the stability of a long term outlook that is not dependent upon the same small margins that can determine elections. How industry achieves this goal - well that is the subject of a future column!

Best wishes, 

Mike Foster CE

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