Labour has released its election manifesto with several promises relating to the technology sector. However, specifics on its policies, and how it will achieve the ambitions outlined in the manifesto, are lacking.
Labour provided V3 with some insights on its plans for several important aspects of the technology market before the manifesto was released, such as broadband access, support for startups and plans to overhaul surveillance laws.
The Labour Party manifesto (PDF) has now been unveiled by leader Ed Miliband, and outlines several of these topics as core technology focus areas for the party.
However, hopes that the document would flesh out the plans shared with V3 have not materialised.
For example, on the topic of broadband provision Labour promises to "ensure that all parts of the country benefit from affordable, high-speed broadband by the end of the parliament ".
"We will work with the industry and the regulator to maximise private sector investment and deliver the mobile infrastructure needed to extend coverage and reduce ‘not spots’, including in areas of market failure,” it adds.
However, there is no figure provided for what Labour classes as high-speed broadband or any specifics about working to "extend coverage" for mobile services or how it would be achieved.
The manifesto also contains references to several emerging trends in technology, such as big data and 3D printing, but again there is no actual detail on how Labour believes it can ensure that Britain benefits from these trends.
“Digital technology has transformed startup costs making it easier to run your own business," the manifesto said.
"There is a widening in the application of new transformative technologies in the fields of robotics, genetics, 3D printing and big data. Our economy is developing a network of connections that will revolutionise innovation.”
Meanwhile, Labour also promises to “strengthen the oversight” of the intelligence agencies that conduct widespread surveillance, such as GCHQ and MI5, but again does not provide any specifics about how it would do this.
One of the few areas in which Labour does offer a clear plan of action is cyber security, saying that it would require every company that works with the Ministry of Defence to sign a cyber security charter.
"This would reduce the risk of hackers using small suppliers to break into the systems of major defence companies or the department itself," the manifesto said.
"We will consult on creating a statutory requirement for all private companies to report serious cyber attacks threatening our national infrastructure."
The Conservative and Lib Dem manifestos are also expected this week, and V3 will have insights on the technology strategies outlined in those documents as well.
Author's view: Labour's manifesto certainly touches on many key elements of the technology sector affecting the UK, and shows an awareness of trends such as big data, which is refreshing if nothing else.
However, failing to include figures and hard details on its plans, such as its ambitions for broadband speeds or how it would support tech startups, raises questions about the extent to which its policies are thought out in these areas. It will be interesting to see whether the Lib Dems and Conservatives are equally vague.
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