Politicians - they're (almost) all the same

Added by Chris Pateman | Wednesday 29th April 2015

They still don’t get it.

Well, you can’t blame a boy for wishing:  Nigel Farage and his colleagues see a lot of things differently to the Westminster elite – it was always just possible their ‘common sense’ manifesto would cast business communications in the correct perspective. 

In the event, while UKIP’s turned out to be the only manifesto to demonstrate conclusively that its writers understand how businesses operate at the sub-CBI level, they were more interested in late payments and red tape than in making sure business can compete in the first place.

So hats off to the Scottish National Party – they, uniquely, use language in their business manifesto which suggests they really understand the causal link between high quality comms and business prosperity.  All the others, sadly, lump it in as the poor relation to other boys toys ‘infrastructure’ projects like railways and runways, and offer wooly platitudes about high speed broadband for all and fewer mobile not-spots. 

No.  It’s really not about high speed broadband for all.  It’s not even, really, about high speed broadband at all. 

What it’s about is business. 

Business and comms are still differentiated in the minds of most policy-makers.  They still see ‘communications’ as ‘broadband’.  And they see ‘broadband’ as that stuff that gets their photos in the local paper every time BT's public relations machine tees up another rural community in their constituency with fibre to the cabinet. 

As a result, they write manifestos against existing ministerial briefs.  I suppose we should be glad to see comms stripped out from theatre, sport and film-making.  But in truth, that’s less because anyone cares about the critical function of UK communications infrastructure than because most manifesto-writers wanted to have theatre, sport and film-making tucked away in a little light-relief slot all of their own;  you know, show the voters we care about British ‘culture’.

Well, let’s say it again, if only for the record:  no comms, no business.  If politicians want British businesses to compete (they don’t, of course;  they all want us to lead!) on world markets, they need to understand British businesses need to be able to contact world markets.  If you want British businesses to be flexible, agile, high tech and forward-looking powerhouses of creative genius, you need to give them connectivity that is demonstrably better than their rivals in Europe and across the world.

This is not a ‘nice to have’ to keep the telecoms industry in business.  This is the means by which the prosperity will be created so all those other manifesto promises can come to fruition.

Is it really just the SNP who get it?