With such a tight contest even the pollsters don’t know with any confidence what the 2015 UK General Election result will be so we asked some UK tech business leaders what would like to see and why.
1. Federation Against Software Theft
Alex Hilton, CEO, said: "Each of the main Westminster parties have recognised the importance of the UK software sector in their Election Manifestos and overall the software sector should be broadly pleased with the commitments made from these parties.
"However, we have to point out that there are some glaring omissions, there appears to point to a degree of lip service to the technology sector, with a host of old and recycled ideas, and a number, which sound great, but give no detail on how they will be implemented.
"There is one notable exception: The Liberal Democrats, which have announced a slew of new policy initiatives aimed solely at the technology and digital arena, recognising that ‘The UK’s digital sector is growing at a rate of over 10% a year, employing nearly 1.5m people. 15% of all new companies last year were digital companies."
2. Ormsby Street – UK analytics firm based around Silicon Roundabout, London
Martin Campbell, MD, commented: "From a personal perspective I’d like to see what the Lib Dems can do if they really had the chance to set the agenda. For the tech industry in the UK to be successful, there has to be more support in exporting. The DTI does some work in this area – but what we need however, goes much further than this.
"Practical help and legal advice particularly around setting up and managing foreign market entities and international tax, licensing and VAT are all areas which most UK tech companies must deal with if they are to trade internationally, but where help is difficult to find and has many gaps. The Lib Dems are best positioned to support this requirement."
3. Context – UK retail analytics firm
Adam Simon, Global Managing Director, Retail Business Development, said: "I am disappointed by the little mention of technology in the manifestos. I think it demonstrates that building a positive future is less important to politicians than defending the past and their political records.
"One of the least debated topics in this election is our productivity which has not improved in absolute terms or relative to countries like France and Germany which are 20% more productive. Technology is a key to unlocking higher productivity.
"My vote goes to the Liberal Democrats as they have the most comprehensive view of technology, dedicating a paragraph to "Securing global leadership in technology" with eight recommendations covering broadband (a little over ambitious in their target), tech clusters, national curriculum and upskilling the unemployed, support to Government Digital Service, and growth of use of technology in Government."
4. Fairsail – UK HR software provider
Adam Hale, CEO, commented: "Honestly there aren’t many policies of any party that make me excited or positive. I will vote Conservative as I see it as the least worst in this election, which seems be a race to the bottom and a terrible advertisement for Democracy.
"The flexible deregulated employment market is one of reasons UK is growing faster than other economies – elements like zero hours contracts, used fairly, are a key way of enabling this we shouldn’t demonise them.
"[I] think all parties are wrong – we need more immigration of skilled workers. There are not enough skilled and motivated British workers for growing companies particularly in technology. UK would not be the global leader in Financial Services without immigration. What we need more than anything is educated young people to hire, less immigration restrictions, and lower personal taxes to help further motivate these people to succeed. "
5. TechHub – meeting and mentoring for UK tech start ups
Elizabeth Varley, Founder & CEO, said: "It’s clear that the main parties are keen to get the support of the UK startup community. A majority of the parties have pledged to boost funding for entrepreneurs in some shape or form, whether that’s through private investment or lending schemes.
6. Accellion – US mobile content platform developer with UK office
Keith Poyser, GM EMEA, commented on the need for a focus on mobile connectivity: "Today, businesses in nearly every industry rely on networked services, so one area the UK government simply must focus on, regardless of whoever comes to power following May 7, is 3G. To support these businesses and to support innovations and new efficiencies in areas as diverse as education, healthcare, financial services, and manufacturing, the UK must have reliable, high-speed network infrastructure.
"In recent times we have been discussing the move towards 5G, when in reality many parts of the UK and Europe struggle to get a GPRS signal. I’ve been to developing economic markets that have better phone networks than the UK; given that it’s a core competency of those firms involved, I’m staggered at times how bad it remains."
"All three main parties are responding to an obvious need for network connectivity throughout the country, but simply extending broadband coverage itself may not be sufficient if mobile coverage is not improved as well."
7. OutSystems UK – US headquartered app development platform provider
Zahid Jiwa, VP Sales UK & Ireland, said: "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.
"The Coalition government has been very clear and ambitious in its objectives for business taxation, stating that it aimed to create the most competitive tax regime in the G20. In order to boost economic growth the new government must continue to unlock barriers to entry like this, as well as building the infrastructure needed that will enable the creation of jobs, homes and businesses.