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Technology and the 2015 election… Does anybody care?

30th Apr 2015

Technology is never going to be a vote winner so no surprise that it doesn’t head up any of the parties’ manifestos but what are the main guys saying about it as May 10th approaches?

Starting with the obvious, almost all the parties – with the exception of UKIP who don’t mention it or pretty much anything else to do with technology – are backing superfast broadband, defined as services of 30 megabits per second or more.

The Conservative party is pledging to deliver superfast broadband in rural and urban areas to provide coverage to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017 while Labour is promising that all parts of the country will benefit from affordable high-speed broadband by the end of Parliament (in 2020).

The Lib Dems are pretty much matching both of the above stating that they will complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household in the UK and small businesses in both rural and urban areas.

So far, so safe…

They’ve also all made a nod to the crowd pleasing issue of non-UK technology companies that use tax-avoidance tactics – think Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook etc – promising to tackle tax evasion and ensure that the big players pay their fair share. Ed’s party even cannily linked it to protecting ‘the family budgets of working people’, reminding us that his is the party for both families and workers as he joined up the dots.

There is, however, some discrepancy between the three parties when it comes to data retention. The Conservatives have stated that their new communications data legislation will strengthen the Government’s ability ‘to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs’ as the technology develops and will ‘maintain the ability of the authorities to intercept the content of suspects’ communications…’

Meanwhile, Labour says nothing contentious by outlining the need to update investigative laws to keep up with changing technology, strengthening powers available and the safeguards that protects peoples’ privacy.

The Lib Dems, however, say that they will ‘oppose the introduction of the so-called Snooper’s Charter ' favoured by the Conservatives, that would see all online activity of every UK citizen stored for a year.

Superfast broadband, tax avoidance and data retention are not top of my agenda at the moment. I’d like to hear a bit more about what these main parties will do to support the further growth of technology and digital companies. I think this is of particular interest as we are currently providing the country with a good proportion of its economic backbone and are set to contribute greatly to future employment. 

On the day that a UK economic growth slowdown ahead of the general election is one of the main headlines, it would be really good to hear one of the main parties vouching to contribute to more training, more tax breaks and more financial packages for digital and technology companies. We’re the fastest growing sector and some proper acknowledgement of this really would be a vote winner…