UK Elections are coming!

UK Elections are coming!

 In Government Relations

Britain will be going to the polls on June 8th to decide the make-up of a new government. This election has been called by the Rt Hon Theresa May Prime Minister in a bid to provide a broader mandate for negotiating Brexit.

Most polls place the Tories as well positioned to get just under 45% of the vote. However, JPA’s sources at two major polling agencies are claiming that between 10-14% of previous Labour voters are claiming that they “don’t know” who they’ll be voting for. This means one of four things:

  1. They do not want to admit to [still] be voting Labour
  2. They do not want to admit to be voting Conservative
  3. They sincerely don’t know
  4. A combination of all of the above

“2” or “4” could lead to the Conservative Party securing 50% of the vote. Something that is unprecedented in the post war era. Regardless, it is wise to start from the perspective that the Rt Hon Theresa May, will have a majority so large that she hypothetically should find it easy to create and pass a policy programme and this will not just apply to Brexit policies but also the NHS too.

Poll of polls projected election outcome – April 21st

If the Conservative Party gain the lead that everyone is predicting, then there are several things that may change in Parliament.

  1. Lobbying the opposition becomes less important – Whilst perhaps an exaggeration, the sentiment remains relevant. When a government has a strong well represented opposition, holding them to account falls to their opposing numbers. When this is not the case, holding them to account falls to their own backbenchers within government or even considering where in the spectrum of political tendencies individual representatives of the party lie. Making an effort to target Conservative backbenchers early, especially ones in whom constituencies business interests lie, is important. Severely cutting your lobbying effort with Labour and instead focusing on the different leanings within the Conservative party itself may become more relevant. .
  2. Committees become more important – Frank Fields MP, under Tony Blair, proved that the best way to hold to account a government with a large majority is via the Parliamentary committees. In Health, Parliamentary public submissions to committees by experts/membership bodies/ interested corporations are notoriously minimal. Also, finding committee members who are willing to stick with an issue for several years and furnishing them with information as when it is needed, is equally as important at a Parliamentary level as it is when considering which doctors should respond to a public issue, such as a vaccine confidence scare. These cross-party committees are increasingly important for public confidence.
  3. Could there be a change in the House of Lords (HoL)? – Unless the HoL becomes significantly less obstructive, the Rt Hon Theresa May could possibly reform it. If Liberal Democrats get some of the Labour vote this may strengthen this likeliness further. Unlike her Conservative predecessors May is not seen to be wedded to Conservative Party traditions.
  4. Hard Brexit – No longer will Britain be in for Hard Brexit – or, at least it won’t be seen to be publicly courting it. The Rt Hon Theresa May has had to work to placate her backbenchers till now. In a post-election world, where she is laden with a huge landslide, expect her to talk openly about extending the current EU immigration agreement beyond the two years of Article 50. This may even form a part of her campaign, thereby preventing any backbench rebellion on immigration control.

Thinking of Health, what will be the main driver of this incoming government?

Getting people out of hospitals and social care, social care and more social care. Especially adult social care. And that can be narrowed down to elderly social care. How your work supports reducing pressure on hospitals, A&E and adult social care or adult care in the community, will be a major policy win as Britain’s ever ageing [voting] population require increased investment.

The response may be, surely my work alongside the NHS’ stakeholders places me in good stead. Possibly. But with the government looking to release bonds to fund improvements of the NHS’ dilapidated buildings, there is little hope of increased funding to other areas of the health service, in fact, the NHS may face real term cuts.[1]

There are also many within the Conservative Party who are privately stating that unlike Cameron and Osborne before her, Theresa May sincerely believes in communitarianism and will base her election pitch, when not talking of Brexit, on stronger communities.

With this in mind, health sector organisations looking to target the British government should stress the social impact of their work. It is not enough to talk about cost effectiveness and efficacy. For instance, the Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, have begun using language in Africa that is not just limited to efficacy and lives/money saved, but rather talks about potential economic participants that have been kept healthy or students permitted to continue their education due to good health.

How communities operate, whilst perceived to be a [successful] campaign ploy by many in the last government, will form a core tenet of the next government. Building lobbying strategies around this, may be the most effective way forward. This includes when lobbying on Brexit.

[1] Real terms – changes in expenditure that account for inflation.