For at least the next five years, our political fate has been decided. And although news outlets dubbed it one of the most unpredictable elections of our time, the result was not too far-fetched: we now have a Conservative-only cabinet for the first time in 18 years.
But will the Liberal Democrats’ departure have any real impact on the tech industry, which is growing at an impressive 10% year on year here in Britain?
The Conservatives’ manifesto suggests so, bravely vowing to make the UK the ‘technology centre of Europe’. Here’s a quick breakdown of its policies, to uncover the tangible impact the election result will really have on the tech sector.
For tech start ups
If you’re a tech start-up, then chances are you were celebrating last weekend, as 82% of UK tech entrepreneurs and founders believe their start up would be better under a Tory government. But are these beliefs well founded?
It seems so. The Tories have promised to double start-up loans to £300m, increase the number of science and tech apprenticeships and fund a new Alan Turing Institute for data sciences along with directing more resources to robotics and nanotechnology.
For broadband speed
The UK’s broadband speed is notoriously uneven, with those living in rural areas getting an average of 13.6Mbps. Within their manifesto, the Tories duly promised access to “superfast” broadband by 2017 to 95% of the country (above 24Mbps by EU guidelines), as well as investing £790 million in extending superfast broadband to rural areas.
For the Internet of Things
In a classic political move of buzzword hijack, the Conservatives pledged £40 million behind the IoT in the latest budget announcement – but where was this in their manifesto? The only suggestion we could find was that by 2020, all homes and businesses will have a smart meter to control their energy supplies.
For public sector IT
Unsurprisingly, public spending will continue to fall, meaning that government IT projects are likely to see their budgets squeezed, which isn’t great for tech service providers.
For data privacy
The bill will allow official agencies to access every user’s browsing history, social media activity, phone calls, instant messages and text message data from ISPs, mobile phone networks and telecommunications companies for up to 12 months. The bill’s opposition strongly believe this would give the government powers of mass surveillance. Not to mention questioning the security of the data.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook responded by saying every person has a “basic human right” to privacy and sensitive information should not be snooped on by governments. These concerns are mirrored in the great British public: only 6% of us back the bill.
Finally, with uncertainty surrounding our EU membership, the result of the referendum could close the door to Britain benefiting from talent across the continent, fuelling analysts’ concerns that tech companies will be deterred from building up presences here in the UK.
So there we have it…
While the Tories may encourage investment into start-up tech firms and further increase access to decent broadband, public sector IT budgets are likely to fall, the communications bill will rear its head once more, and Euroscepticism may yet convince investors and talent that the UK isn’t the bridgehead to Europe and growth that it once was.