Election call
What is on the IT shopping list in the coming election? It depends who you ask

Corporate users want government to get a grip on broadband infrastructure. It is dawning on Tony Blair that all his checklists for social inclusion and e-commerce may be stymied if we have to rely on the humble V90 modem for much longer.

Business is also watching the implementation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act carefully. Nothing has been said officially, but most business strategists are quietly hoping it will be implemented with a light touch to quell their fears that it could drive e-commerce offshore.

The telecoms firms, of course, would like their mobile licence money back. They're not likely to get it from any of the major parties, but that merely serves to focus the problem of third generation (3G) infrastructure back on to the Government. Whoever gets in will have to do something proactive to boost the chances of the 3G roll-out surviving an economic downturn.

IT contractors want an end to IR35. Those who are not threatening to head for Dover or Heathrow will be heartened by the Conservatives' unequivocal pledge to scrap it. Expect a concession in that direction from Labour once it realises how many marginals there are in IT cluster towns.

The IT profession will probably be as divided as the population when it comes to party politics - no surprise, since it includes one in every 20 employees. But there is a starting point for a common IT agenda.

All the main parties are sold on e-transformation. All are keen to defer to the technocrats as the builders of a dynamic new economy to replace the old, declining one. All are committed to various degrees of light-touch regulation backed by enabling measures for businesses and individuals.

That is a great position to leverage. So let's make sure it's not just the farmers and the doctors who get a hearing with the politicians.

Let's make sure the IT voice is heard on the issues that matter: a solid plan to reskill Britain's workforce for the high-tech future; a national broadband infrastructure; an end to regulations that kill e-business innovation; a strategy to attract the high-value end of technology businesses to this country, and the vision to produce global champions in the technologies of the future.

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This was first published in May 2001

 

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