THE 2015 General Election looks set to produce the most unpredictable vote in living memory. With the country officially on election countdown, all the political parties are putting their last energies into campaigning and reiterating pledges about clearing the deficit and building a stronger economy.
So far, we have seen encouraging signs of economic growth in 2014, employment rising and this certainly is the case in Milton Keynes with our QES indicating that confidence is at high levels – 92% of manufacturers and 90% of those in the service sector expect turnover to improve in 2015.
The British Chambers of Commerce’s Annual Conference 2015: A Business Plan for Britain, which I attended in London, provided another pre-election opportunity for senior politicians to set out how they would deliver a more confident and more enterprising Britain.
I was interested in hearing the speakers and panellists which included Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and his Labour shadow counterpart Chuka Umunna MP, address four business-critical themes: developing the talents of the next generation, growing UK exports, devolution to all regions of the UK and Britain’s position in the world.
Getting past the political point scoring, I found the debates stimulating, thought-provoking and identified key challenges facing small and medium-sized enterprises – our key drivers to the economic recovery.
In my mind, events organised by our colleagues at BCC also provide a platform for the business community to have constructive voice in debates on future policy.
In this instance, it allowed BCC, on behalf of the nation’s businesses, to highlight its manifesto A Business Plan for Britain, setting out its expectations of the incoming government.
The manifesto identifies seven core themes that must be at the heart of any plan for government, to ensure Britain becomes a more confident, more enterprising, and more skilled trading nation. They are:
- Retaining UK talent and developing the next generation;
- Growing Britain’s global trade potential;
- Strengthening Britain’s infrastructure to a world class standard;
- Driving down business costs and taxes;
- Supporting long-term business investment;
- Delivering a new settlement for Britain in Europe;
- Placing business at the heart of local growth.
The manifesto also proposes measures that make these aims achievable.
The BCC manifesto issues a clear call to all political parties to make these priorities for growth a reality. By setting out a true ‘Business Plan for Britain’, the political parties can instil confidence among businesses in Milton Keynes and across the country and focus on delivering long-term recovery and prosperity.
We wait on the results of May 7.