Insights General Election 2024: What do the manifestos say?

The Labour and Conservative Parties have both published their manifestos. We have already commented (here and here) on their implications for employment law and the world of work. Here, we examine a number of other subjects that they touch upon, from AI and digital infrastructure to online safety, culture, and sport.

On AI, Labour promises to “ensure that our industrial strategy supports the development of the Artificial Intelligence sector [and] removes planning barriers to create new data centres”. It also states that it will ensure the “safe development and use of AI models by introducing binding regulation on the handful of companies developing the most powerful AI models and by banning the creation of sexually explicit deepfakes”. Labour also intends to create a ‘Regulatory Innovation Office’ that will “help regulators to update regulation, speed up approval timelines and co-ordinate issues that span existing boundaries”. Meanwhile, the Conservatives pledge to double the digital and AI expertise in the civil service and continue to invest over £1.5 billion in large-scale compute clusters. Both parties also see a major role for AI in the NHS: the Conservatives promise to implement a new “medtech pathway so that cost-effective medtech, including AI, is rapidly adopted throughout the NHS”, while Labour say that they will “harness the power of technologies like AI to transform the speed and accuracy of diagnostic services”.

Turing to communications and digital infrastructure, the Conservatives aim to achieve nationwide gigabit broadband by 2030. In addition, the party’s ambition is for “all populated areas to be covered by ‘standalone’ 5G mobile connectivity and to keep the UK at the forefront of adopting and developing 6G”. The manifesto also states that they will “undertake a rapid review into the advantages of alternative network technologies, compared to overhead pylons. The review will consider moving to a presumption in favour of overgrounding where cost competitive”. On online safety, the Conservatives say that they will build on the existing responsibilities set out for social media companies under the Online Safety Act 2023, and will “urgently consult on introducing further parental controls over access to social media”.

Labour similarly promises to “explore further measures to keep everyone safe online” and will grant coroners more powers to access information held by tech companies after a child’s death.  It also commits to full gigabit broadband and national 5G coverage by 2030. In addition, there are commitments to: update national planning policy to “ensure the planning system meets the needs of a modern economy, making it easier to build laboratories, digital infrastructures, and gigafactories”;  “scrap short-term funding cycles for key R&D institutions in favour of ten-year budgets that allow meaningful partnerships with industry to keep the UK at the forefront of global innovation”; and “simplify the procurement process to support innovation and reduce micromanagement”. Labour also plans to create a new National Data Library to “bring together existing research programmes and help deliver data-driven public services, whilst maintaining strong safeguards and ensuring all of the public benefit”.

Finally, on culture and sports, both parties commit to introducing a new independent regulator for football, as envisaged by the Football Governance Bill that failed to become law before the dissolution of Parliament (and on which we commented here). Furthermore, the Conservative manifesto states that the party will “ensure that our creative sector tax incentives remain competitive… [and that] creators are properly protected and remunerated through their work, whilst also making the most of the opportunities of AI and its applications for creativity in the future”. It will also launch a review of the night-time economy in England to reverse the decline of pubs and clubs, introduce a new complaints process for the BBC so that it “does not mark its own homework”, and resist “any attempt to bring forward Leveson 2 or re-open the Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press”.

Meanwhile, Labour promises to “implement our creative industries sector plan as part of our Industrial Strategy, creating good jobs and accelerating growth in film, music, gaming, and other creative sectors. We will work constructively with the BBC and other public service broadcasters so they continue to inform, educate and entertain people, and support the creative economy by commissioning distinctively British content”.

To read the Labour Party manifesto, click here.

To read the Conservative Party manifesto, click here.