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Networking & Communications

UK Elections: UK's tech scene responds

The results of the 2015 UK General Election are in. David Cameron’s Conservatives are in power for another five years, this time without needing a coalition. But how does the UK tech scene feel about this?

We asked around and found out what these results mean for the UK’s tech professionals. Feel free to add your own opinion in the comments section.

Marco De Nichilo, CEO of Glasgow-based Swarmly:

I think the SNP result in Scotland is very positive for entrepreneurs here as it has been SNP leaders who have been so supportive of things like the entrepreneurs fund, entrepreneurial spark etc. It can only bring us more effective change and support.

As for those down south, I don't know how effective people consider things like Tech City initiatives to be under the Tory government (or even if they’d be any better under a Labour gov.), but I don't imagine many will be pleased to hear that they intend to push through the Snoopers Charter now that the Lib Dems aren’t able to oppose it. That could have very serious consequences for the entire British tech sector.

Leon Harris, CEO of CombiCloud:

While the Conservative government has always been on the side of “big business”, the opposite is true for startups and small business owners. Often these companies are the most innovative, feeding new ideas in to the large corporations and disrupting conventional business models.

Our current government also have less regard for environmental business than other parties, and that is an area where huge leaps forward are being made in technology. Just look at Teslas latest announcement. I fear this government will continue the status quo as they have for the last four years - the rich get richer while the small businesses and startups struggle under heavy taxation.  Let’s pray David Cameron sees the light this time round, and recognises Britain’s thriving creative and tech industry.

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of TechUK:

The future of the UK depends on a strong, tech enabled economy and tech companies will be encouraged by signs of political certainty provided by today’s outcome. The Conservative party has demonstrated a solid track record on tech and the digital economy across the UK. The new government must look to build on those achievements to make the UK a world leader in the next wave of the digital revolution.

Yonatan Raz-Fridman, CEO of Kano

At this exciting time, there are three areas where I think a newly elected political party can continue to help technology in the UK. From a more personal lens, two years ago I received a UK Entrepreneur Visa, a new type of visa launched by the government and aimed at encouraging entrepreneurs from all over the world to start new businesses in the UK. I am grateful for this opportunity and believe that the continuation of this program can better establish the UK as a global entrepreneurship hub and support the growth of startup companies - it helped us launch Kano.

Second, the new computing curriculum that was launched in primary schools should continue to be a focal point to give our students the right tools for success. Third, I hope the new government will accelerate the deployment of faster broadband so anyone, anywhere in the UK can have access to seamless Internet connectivity, which is key for effectively working with and on top of technology.

Alastair Mitchell, President and Cofounder, Huddle

The new Conservative single majority will continue to create a positive business climate. Schemes such as EIS/SEIS, entrepreneur relief and R&D tax breaks build a favourable economic environment for startups and technology innovation in Britain - all of which would have been hindered with a Labor government. I've been pleased to see how the Conservative government has implemented new deficit-reducing measures in government IT by breaking up monolithic and monopolistic legacy IT contracts. Doing so has introduced more competition, while also supporting smaller suppliers.

Chris Averill, CEO of We Are Experience:

This will be the last analogue election. Labour need to see e-voting come in by the 2020 election or they will never get back into No. 10. It is the only method that will persuade the new generation of voters to care enough to vote. 

Brendan Flattery, President of Europe, Sage

The Conservatives promised to put £790 million into broadband and mobile, but what is vital is that the small business agenda remains a top priority and the UK continues to remain an attractive place to start and run a business. Cutting red tape, ensuring access to finance and decent broadband speeds are key as well as tackling the shameful and pervasive late payments practise that goes on.

There has been a concerted effort to create a new Silicon Valley in London, which is fantastic for the UK, but why stop at London? The country needs to expand its investment to focus on technology skills and infrastructure beyond the capital, the North is home to a wide talent pool of skilled businesspeople and entrepreneurs.

Adam Simon, Global MD of Retail Business at CONTEXT

Instead of looking at the Conservative party, let’s ask ourselves the question – has the IT industry done enough to demonstrate the vital role it plays in the nation’s economy to improve productivity? Technology was not centre stage in this election and the Conservative manifesto contained few pledges in this area. If the Conservatives are serious about technology, there are two useful sources going forward – the Lib Dem manifesto and the Number One in Digital report by Jon Cruddas (which was surprisingly ignored in the Labour party manifesto).

Mark Morley, Director of Manufacturing at OpenText

Political parties have learnt that it is not just how you gather and archive information that counts, but how you use it to develop an action plan and strategy. As each election comes and goes, every party acquires a valuable data set that can then be used to drive party activities, messages and manifestos next time around. The parties with the best insights, the best Big Data analysis, will be able to plan better, more targeted campaign strategies at future elections.

Ian Tomlinson, CEO of Cybertill

As the Conservatives have secured a majority, even though it is paper thin, they have promised a referendum on Europe. This will bring huge uncertainty to all businesses and if we leave this makes doing business with the EU more expensive and leaves the country with no bargaining power around EU rules and regulations.

In addition, the government should fast track the roll-out of super-fast broadband across ALL areas of the country. Broadband is the ‘critical utility’ for businesses in the 21st century, without it, they will not be able to prosper and grow.

Ian Smith, General Manager of Invu

One of the problems for all parties in this election is that no one believes their promises. In part because they have not established fiscal credentials. This appears to be made worse when parties panic and offer all sorts of solutions to gain votes, instead of considering in detail the problems they are trying to solve.

The Conservatives may have won but we will find that delivering on these promises will be constrained by the existing budgets. Unless they are prepared to increase borrowing, or adopt a more radical approach to question existing budgets like zero based budgeting, it is inevitable that some form of U-turn will have to occur.

Anthony Sherick, MD at specialist IT jobsite, Technojobs

In perspective, a Conservative Government is likely to encourage the tech sector far greater than any of the other parties which is positive for un-tapping the massive sector potential.  The attitude of Labour pre-election whilst generically positive had very little detail and many SME owners were concerned that Labour didn’t appreciate the importance of small business enterprise.  

Andrew Hull, Strategy Director for Pocket App

The rise of tech cities all over the UK has been great but it is still a very difficult environment for innovative start-ups. The Conservatives pledged to cut red tape for businesses and I hope they will extend this to set up free enterprise zones. It would enable technology clusters to develop and reduce the tax burden on entrepreneurs and growing businesses so they can fully invest in creating the next Google or Facebook. 

I would also like to see them deregulate internet access further for both businesses and consumers, and the UK needs investment into STEM education to place coding, along with entrepreneurship, on the national curriculum.

Richard Cassidy, Technical Director EMEA, Alert Logic

The science behind forecasting for pollsters isn’t exact at all, and we the people are fickle indeed. All in all this general election highlights yet again that the pollsters need to review how to the farm the data pre-election and perhaps need to increase their demographic to help prevent such events from reoccurring.

Martin Campbell, Managing Director at Ormsby Street

I think that the real change that they could bring about would be to stick to the promises that they have made to us. A culture of integrity isn’t something that can be legislated for, but one which our politicians can lead by example. So I would encourage a clear, principled effort to do the right thing as a great example to set to British business.

Paul Statham, CEO of Condeco Software

David Cameron must not take his eye off the ball. Fast-growth businesses need to be made a priority or there is a real risk of impairing these hugely successful companies’ growth, which would have a knock-on effect on the economy and job creation. The establishment also need to ensure that they do everything they can to stop the impending skills shortage; It should be a priority for the next government to enable our young people to fulfil their potential as our next generation of professionals and leaders.

John Coldicutt, CMO of KashFlow

David Cameron has made it clear he views healthy businesses as the backbone of a strong economy in the UK and central to the government’s long-term growth plans. With the Conservative party win, it’s vital the government continues its pledge to cut a further £10 billion from business red tape in the next five years, while continuing the rate relief it has achieved during the last term.

Zahid Jiwa, VP Sales UK & Ireland for OutSystems

The new Government needs to do all that it can to boost business and continue to stimulate the economy.  This means providing the right incentives around tax breaks, R&D grants, investment in education and skills so that we retain our talent and continue to be a force to be reckoned with globally. Right now it is critically important that we don’t lose businesses to other economies because the UK is no longer viewed as offering a progressive environment. 

James Campanini VP and GM EMEA, Blue Jeans Network 

The majority of the political parties were backing superfast broadband leading up to the general election, Conservatives included. So, in terms of connectivity any foreseeable election result was going to be good for UK businesses. Better access to superfast broadband will help to improve overall connectivity and working capabilities for many, especially those working remotely. This way organisations and workers are able to take advantage of the government’s flexible working initiative.

The Tories have also vowed to make the UK the ‘technology centre of Europe’ pledging increased funding for innovation and startups. This, will in turn, attract strong talent and boost the success rate for new inventive technology companies.

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