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UK General Election - What Would the Major Players do for IT and Techology?

All three of the UK's main national political parties have now published their manifestos for the upcoming General Election, and with the date rapidly approaching, now is the time to examine how they compare on digital issues.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all made promises regarding broadband, skills and education, data protection and privacy, and research and innovation.


BROADBAND


All three parties have said that they are committed to the roll-out of super-fast Broadband across the UK, however they differ on speed of connectivity as well as time scales on when this would be rolled out.

  • CONSERVATIVES: The Conservatives have promised that every household and business would have access to super-fast broadband, defined by them as 24Mbps, by 2020. The party has also promised 'major fibre spines' in more than 100 towns and cities by 2022, with 100 million sites connected to full fibre with plans for national coverage over the next ten years.

  • LABOUR: Labour has promised to deliver 30Mbps to all households by 2022. The party has also promised to report on how to roll our 'ultra fast' 300Mbps broadband with the help of the National Infrastructure Commission over the next decade.

  • LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: The Lib Dems have also promised that nationwide broadband will be improved, however it is still unclear whether they intend to change the speed to 2Gbps or 30Mbps.

SKILLS AND EDUCATION


The UK is currently facing a huge digital skills gap, which is estimated to be costing £63bn per year. All three parties have voice their plans to tackle this.

  • CONSERVATIVES: While the party wants to introduce more institutes focused on the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, the Conservatives also aims to increase the cost of Tier 2 skills visas from £1000 to £2000.

  • LABOUR: Labour haven't been specific on what they intend to do, but the manifesto does highlight and stress the need to develop digital skills, and promises to maintain the apprenticeship levy.

  • LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: The Lib Dems have said that they want to make sure that coding is still part of the National Curriculum, and it commits to growing the number of apprenticeships, particularly within the digital sector.

DATA PROTECTION, PRIVACY AND SECURITY


Data protection is a very topical and very serious issue for all three parties.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems have outlined specific plans for data protection and privacy whereas Labour has not made any specific promises, except that the party does want data protection rules to be enforced.

  • CONSERVATIVES: The Tories want to implement a new data protection law that promises 'safe, flexible and dynamic' use of data. It also promises large investments in Cyber Security and 'stronger cyber standards for government and public services'.

  • LABOUR: While there are no specifics, Labour has promised to maintain data protection rules and 'protect personal privacy.' Labour has also promised to introduce a cyber security charter for those working with the ministry of Defense and they intend to put strong policing methods in place to combat cyber crime.

  • LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: The Lib Dems have said that they want to introduce a digital bill to help the public protect their own information, civil liberties and personal data. The party has also promised to heavily invest in cyber security to combat potential attacks.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION


All three parties have stated that they intend to support UK universities, research and innovation.

  • CONSERVATIVES: In the last Autumn statement, the Conservatives promised to increase investment in research and development, and the recent manifesto echoes this, saying that it will support universities to to lead the expansion of R&D.

  • LABOUR: Labour has promised that by 2030 the UK will hit it's 3% R&D spending target. A national investment bank is set to cover this, providing 'patient, long-term finance' to R&D.

  • LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: The Lib Dems have also promised to increase investment in R&D. The party have said that they want to campaign to make sure that universities still attract funding post-Brexit, and they have also promised to create new research and innovation centres.

OTHER TECH PLEDGES


Across the main party manifestos, mobile phone signal and 5G, healthcare technology, and supporting digital developments across other industries have all been named as areas they would work with.

  • CONSERVATIVES: The Tories have promised that by 2027 WiFi on trains and the new 5G network will be available to most of the UK. The NHS would also undergo an ambitious tech transformation and the Conservatives have promised to help creative industries get the infrastructure and technology they need.

  • LABOUR: Labour has said that technology and innovation will be used to transform sustainable farming, food and fishing, and the party wants to launch a £1bn cultural capital fund to help cultural and creative industries get 'ready for the digital age.'

  • LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: The Lib Dems want to support the space industry and also use technology to 'promote GP led multidisciplinary health and care hubs.'

Source: Computer Weekly

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