Public Policy

April 24, 2017

Election 2017: Beware Election Myopia


It’s all too easy for businesses to get caught up in the short term issues and speculation about this year’s unexpected general election and take their eye off the more important medium and long term issues. Easy, but a mistake.

Easy because the first few days of the campaign were fascinating particularly around the speculation about the reasons for the Prime Minister’s decision. Did she change her mind to avoid a series of forced by-elections in the summer as a result of the inquiry into the Conservatives’ election expenses last time; to avoid having the election in 2020 in the immediate aftermath of failure to reach agreement with the EU or in a transitional or implementation phase including crossing some red lines; to strengthen her authority in Parliament to get through the EU deal and new domestic policies; to strengthen her negotiating hand with the EU; in response to the seduction of a landslide majority; and more? Well, all of the above probably.

A mistake because, for business, this speculation doesn’t matter. What matters, as was the case before last week, is whether business can get the Brexit deal it wants, has made its case for that deal, and is continuing to do so; whether individual sectors and businesses are effectively making their case for the national competitiveness policies they want to see post-Brexit; and whether they understand Theresa May’s brand of social conservatism and commitment to using the power of government as a force for good, and are preparing for its impact when the PM is emboldened yet further by her own electoral mandate.

So the now may be fascinating. But don’t be distracted: for business the now must be about influencing and understanding the future environment in which you’ll operate. Or it will simply to be too late.

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