It's been just under two months since the general election and whilst the pollsters are still trying to figure out how they got the result so wrong, industry has been busy trying to meet as many parliamentarians as possible, to get across our key messages to the new government. Whilst the result was unexpected there was one area that I had been expected: a new wave of MPs being elected to the Commons. With a number of the old guard retiring and others stepping aside, not including the shock results that we saw on the 7 May, we now have 182 new members of Parliament (of which 74 are Conservative, 53 are Labour and 50 are from the Scottish National Party).
Following this result and the unexpected Conservative majority, the word on the political street is that the party are now taking a step back to re-evaluate their policies and to understand what the policy landscape should look like post-coalition. For this reason it has been important for industry to engage early and impact on those initial government policy debates.
Over the past seven weeks, we as an Association have been working hard to establish contact with the new government. Sending out letters and using new social media channels to actively engage and get our messages across. Additionally, we even attended a parliamentary 'fresher’s fair' set up by the Enterprise Forum in the House of Commons terrace to introduce our messages in person.
With the new MPs now in listening mode, the Association is keen to take advantage of the momentum and engage directly in the political discussions. For this reason I was very pleased with a successful and thought-provoking parliamentary event we hosted yesterday, in partnership with Prospect Magazine. We invited all parties and all MPs old and new to join us for our panel discussion. The discussion focused on the question ‘can UK manufacturing deliver economic growth in the next parliament?’ Our guest speakers on the day included Chi Onwurah MP and Mark Pawsey MP who both offered an insight into the parliamentary thinking in terms of manufacturing and construction. The panel was completed with Jonathan Derbyshire (Managing Editor, Prospect Magazine), Dr Diana Montgomery (Chief Executive, Construction Products Association) and John Sinfield (MD of Knauf Insulation UK & Northern Europe, and Chairman, Construction Products Association).
The debate offered us as an industry the opportunity to have a frank and open discussion with over a dozen MPs. By getting our messages over early we have hopefully had a positive effect on their understanding of our business for the next five years to come. In return, we heard the MPs views on the way forward, and learned that there are more than a few champions of construction and UK manufacturing in the Commons. We hope to continue these discussions over the next year.
I call on all our members to help underpin this work by engaging with their local members of parliament as soon as possible. Now is the time for industry to be proactive and to make our voice heard.