Three weeks from today Britain will cast its votes as Labour and the Liberal Democrats aim to upset the polls by preventing the supposed ‘inevitability’ of another Conservative government.
The three main parties have all now released their General Election 2017 manifestos. Yet their policies are a bit of a mixed bag, according to Advertising Association CEO Stephen Woodford.
He’s disappointed to see Labour and the Lib Dems once again talk about banning junk food advertising, calling it a “poorly evidenced” policy that is completely at odds with their “supposed support” for the creative industries.
Woodford says it’s positive that the Conservatives are promising better regulation for advertising. However, the party’s hard stance on immigration could leave a lot of marketers scratching their heads.
He explains: “On immigration a promise to get numbers down to the ‘tens of thousands’ by Theresa May is deeply concerning as we look to retain the UK’s status as a global advertising hub. This risks damaging the fundamental driver of our export success – our ability to attract and keep the best talent from around the world, not just in advertising, but in all our creative industries.”
There is also uncertainty around the EU General Data Protection Regulation, with headline pledges by the Tories and Lib Dems both calling for new data protection laws. Woodford believes this will only unsettle digital businesses.
“The UK is a world leader in data-driven business and we should be looking to strengthen that position in post-Brexit Britain, not put further constraints on it versus our competitors,” he adds.
Ultimately, he says the three parties’ promises to support regional growth, creative clusters and small businesses are “great news” for marketers.
Marketing Week has rounded up the key marketing-related pledges from the three manifestos. Let us know in the comments section below which political party you think best represents the interests of the marketing industry.
- On innovation: The Conservatives say they want to help innovators and startups by encouraging early-stage investment and considering further incentives under the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.
- On the creative industries: An ambition for many more creative businesses to open new offices outside London in the likes of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newport.
- On Brexit: They want to deliver a smooth and orderly departure from the European Union and forge a deep and special partnership with friends and allies across Europe while at the same time ensuring Britain is strong and united and takes a lead in the world to ensure interests are defended.
- On digital business: Ensure digital businesses have access to the best talent from overseas to compete with anywhere in the world. This will be complemented by at least one new institute of technology in the UK, dedicated to world-leading digital skills and developed and run in partnership with the tech industry.
- Help provide the skills and digital infrastructure that creative companies need and will seek to build upon the favourable tax arrangements that have helped them, including the creative industries tax credits scheme.
- On media: Ensure there is a sustainable business model for high quality media online, to create a level playing field for the media and creative industries.
- On IP: Create a robust system for protection of intellectual property when the UK has left the EU, with strong protections against infringement.
- Continue a £1.9bn investment in cyber security.
- On corporation tax: Bring corporation tax down to 17% by 2020 – the lowest rate of any developed country.
- On immiration: Recommendations on changes to the visa system to come from the independent Migration Advisory Committee to better align with the party’s modern industrial strategy. It envisages that the committee’s advice will lead to significant numbers of visas for workers in strategically-important sectors, such as digital technology, without adding to net migration as a whole.
- On the creative industries: Labour wants to put Britain’s “world-class creative sector” at the heart of negotiations and future industrial strategy and to open up the arts and creative industries to everyone.
- The introduction of a £1bn Cultural Capital Fund to upgrade existing cultural and creative infrastructure to be ready for the digital age and invest in creative clusters across the country, based on a similar model to enterprise zones.
- On Brexit: Negotiate a Brexit deal that puts the economy and living standards first.
- On the internet: Labour will ensure that tech companies are obliged to take measures that further protect children and tackle online abuse and that young people understand and are able to easily remove any content they shared on the internet before they turned 18.
- On junk food advertising: The party will publish a new childhood obesity strategy within the first 100 days, with proposals on advertising and food labelling.
- On the sugar tax: Labour will implement the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, commonly known as the ‘sugar tax’.
- On corporation tax: Labour wants to raise corporation tax to 26% on large companies and 21% for small companies by 2022.
- On immigration: Admits Britain’s immigration system will change once Britain leaves the UK, but says Labour will not scapegoat migrants nor blame them for economic failure and protect those already working here, whatever their ethnicity. It will work with businesses, trade unions, devolved governments and others to identify specific labour and skill shortages.
- Digital economy: Labour wants to grow the digital economy and ensure that trade agreements do not impede cross-border data flows, while maintaining strong data protection rules to protect personal privacy.
- On diversity: Will implement the Parker Review recommendations to increase ethnic diversity on the boards of Britain’s largest companies.
- On junk food advertising: Develop a strategy to tackle childhood obesity, including restricting the marketing of junk food to children, restricting TV advertising before the 9pm watershed and closing loopholes in the sugary drinks tax. Introduce mandatory targets on sugar reduction for food and drink producers.
- On alcohol pricing: Introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol, subject to the final outcome of the legal challenge in Scotland.
- On health campaigning: Develop a public health campaign promoting the steps people can take to improve their own mental resilience – the wellbeing equivalent of the ‘Five a Day’ campaign.
- On apprenticeships: Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices, including by extending apprenticeships to new sectors of our economy such as creative and digital industries.
- On the creative industries: Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council and tailored industry-specific tax support, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.
- On diversity: Continue the drive for diversity in business leadership, pushing for at least 40% of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies and implementing the recommendations of the Parker review to increase ethnic minority representation.
- Extend the Equality Act to all large companies with more than 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.
- On immigration: Ensure that the immigration system is operated fairly and efficiently, with strict control of borders, including entry and exit checks, and adequately funded Border Force policing of entry by irregular routes. But also hold an annual debate in parliament on skill and labour market shortfalls and surpluses to identify the migration necessary to meet the UK’s needs.
- On Brexit: When the terms of our future relationship with the EU have been negotiated (over the next two years on the Government’s timetable), the party will put that deal to a vote of the British people in a referendum, with the alternative option of staying in the EU on the ballot paper. The Liberal Democrats believe there is no deal as good for the UK outside the EU as the one it already has as a member.
Additional reporting by Leonie Roderick.