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April 14, 2015updated 22 Sep 2016 11:47am

General Election 2015: 10 tech take-aways from the Conservative Manifesto

Manifesto featured the word 'technology' 16 times.

By Joao Lima

With 23 days to go, polictical parties involved in this year’s General Election have started to release their manifestos and policies.

Today, it was the Conservative Party’s turn to reveal their intentions, following hot off the heels of Labour who revealed their manifesto on Monday.

The Conservative Party manifesto features the word "technology" 16 times, while "tech" features 30 times. At a glance, the manifesto outlines a future with open doors to developers who want to contribute with technology solutions to help the country assume an ever more important key presence within the industry.

Mr Cameron pledged to help businesses create two million new jobs and three million additional apprenticeships over the next five years if elected.

Furthermore, the Tories will work to add 50,000 more start-up loans across the country, with many of those loans pledged to tech-focused entrepreneurs.

Technology does seem to be at the very heart of the party’s manifesto for the upcoming general election.

The manifesto received positive reviews from across the industry. CBR spoke to techUK’s CEO Julian David who said: "This document contains encouraging detail and points to a future where every area of government policy is underpinned and enabled by the smart use of technology.

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"Beyond commitments to back the UK’s digital economy and further develop the Eight Great Technologies campaign, this Manifesto makes it clear that the whole of the UK is benefitting from the digital revolution."

CBR looked at the main ten Conservative Party tech pledges announced today by David Cameron.

1. Broadband connections

The manifesto announced a spending of £790 million to extend superfast broadband to rural areas across the UK.

There are currently 2 million UK premises already connected, but the Conservatives vowed to upgrade 40,000 more every week.

"We will secure the delivery of superfast broadband in urban and rural areas to provide coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017, and we will ensure no one is left behind by subsidising the cost of installing superfast capable satellite services in the very hardest to reach areas.

"We will also release more spectrum from public sector use to allow greater private sector access. And we have set an ambition that ultrafast broadband should be available to nearly all UK premises as soon as practicable," it said.

In mid March, a speed data test carried out by uSwitch.com found that Williamson Road in Kent had a download speed 135 times slower than the fastest street in Sandy Lane in Cannock, Staffordshire.

With an average speed of 0.54Mbps, Williamson Road was far from the national average of 22.8Mbps and even further away from Sandy Lane at 72.86Mbps.

Cameron has promised to boost the country’s broadband network to connect everyone and everything.

2. Network coverage

With 4G currently still unavailable in many parts of the UK, Mr Cameron’s party has promised to position the UK as a leader when it comes to 5G.

"We will ensure that Britain seizes the chance to be a world leader in the development of 5G, playing a key role in defining industry standards," the manifesto reads.

Mobile operators will also be held to their new legally binding agreement to ensure that 90 per cent of the UK landmass will have voice and SMS coverage by 2017.

"We will continue to invest in mobile infrastructure to deliver coverage for voice calls and text messages for the final 0.3 – 0.4 per cent of UK premises that do not currently have it," it continued.

3. Cyber security

Following the developments of the last few years when hundreds of young British citizens were radicalised and joined extremist groups like ISIS, the Conservative Party has outlined a strategy to fight online radicalisation.

The manifesto explained that the Conservative Party had already reformed the Prevent strategy, to focus on non-violent as well as violent extremism.

"We will now go even further," the Manifesto read.

"We will outlaw groups that foment hate with the introduction of new Banning Orders for extremist organisations. These could be applied to dangerous organisations that fall short of the existing thresholds for proscription under terrorism legislation.

"To restrict the harmful activities of extremist individuals, we will create new Extremism Disruption Orders," it continued.

These new powers will prevent those who are seeking to radicalise young British people online from using the internet or communicating via social media.

The party also vowed to strengthen Ofcom’s role so that tough measures could be taken against channels that broadcast extremist content.

Employers will also gain powers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children.

There would be further measures to ensure colleges and universities do not give a platform to extremist speakers.

4. Nanotechnology

Cameron announced he would work closely with the Eight Great Technologies if elected Prime Minister.

The manifesto highlighted the importance of robotics and nanotechnology in putting the UK ahead of the competitors at a global scale.

"We will work with the Automotive Council in support of our resurgent car industry and direct further resources towards the Eight Great Technologies – among them robotics and nanotechnology – where Britain is set to be a global leader," it said.

5. Research

Research and development was another big trump card withn the manifesto.

The party is assuring all that it will keep working to enable researchers and investigators to access the tools they need to develop the technologies of the future.

The manifesto referred to the already achieved creation of new research centres and promised to expand this offer nationwide.

"We have delivered a network of catapult centres – R&D hubs in the technologies of the future – and we will create more to ensure that we have a bold and comprehensive offer in place for Britain’s researchers and innovators," it can be read.

 

6. Healthcare

The Conservatives said they will speed up access to new medicines by implementing the findings of the Innovative Medicines and Medical Technology Review.

They also announced the introduction of new technologies to improve healhcare.

"We will increase the use of cost-effective new medicines and technologies, and encourage large-scale trials of innovative technologies and health services," it said.

Antibiotic resistance is a major health risk and the party said it "will continue to lead the global fight against it, taking forward the recommendations of the independent review launched by the Prime Minister, David Cameron".

Tories will also support the long-term economic plan by fostering research, innovation and jobs in the life science industry.

7. Energy

The energy sector, just like networks, robotics and cyber security, featured very high withn the 83 page manifesto.

Despite claims by the Institute of Directors labelling Downing Street’s smart meter program as an "IT disaster", the Conservatives will keep their foot down and continue to roll out devices.

"We will ensure that every home and business in the country has a Smart Meter by 2020, delivered as cost-effectively as possible, so consumers have instant, accurate bills and can switch to an alternative provider within one day," it said.

The document also mentioned that they would support low-cost measures on energy efficiency, with the goal of insulating a million more homes over the next five years, to tackle fuel poverty.

And as smart meters will offer an energy-efficient approach to most households, renewable energy will also see a boost if Cameron wins another term in office.

"We will provide start-up funding for promising new renewable technologies and research, but will only give significant support to those that clearly represent value for money," the manifesto presented.

8. Crime

The party announced it will introduce new forms to fight crime in general.

It will introduce a set of new technological schemes that will give visibility to different hierarchies of the force to better protect and deter any anomally.

"We are developing a modern crime prevention strategy to address the key drivers of crime.

"We will publish standards, performance data and a ranking system for the security of smartphones and tablets, as well as online financial and retail services," it said.

Conservatives want to deploy new technology to monitor offenders in the community and to bring persistent offenders to justice more quickly.

9. Agri-tech

The Conservatives want to develop a 25-year plan to grow more, buy more and sell more British food without forgetting the key results technology can deliver within the industry.

With plans to create three million more apprenticeships, the Tories "will support a science-led approach on GM crops and pesticides and implement a 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB".

While pushing for further reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, the manifesto also promised to support the creation of new jobs by backing the East’s great strengths, especially "agri-tech and high-tech businesses around Cambridge, and energy businesses at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft".

10. Smart travelling

The new possible Tory gov has committed itself to smarten travels by introducing smart ticketing and better wi-fi connections within the transport sector.

"We will also introduce smart ticketing and part-time season tickets and require train companies to improve compensation arrangements for passengers when trains are more than a few minutes late.

"We are investing millions of pounds in fitting out trains with new wi-fi equipment and improving mobile phone signals, which will benefit passengers on trains across England and Wales," it said.

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