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Let’s Talk General Election…

It definitely has been a tumultuous year for British politics (an understatement we know!)

With Brexit still dominating the campaign, this election could mean a hung parliament is in store for our country. Or will one party get the mandate they have been hoping for?

Will we Leave, revoke Article 50 or have a second referendum?

As we are just a few days away from this Christmas election, we thought it was a great opportunity to dissect the main parties’ manifestos to see what is being offered on transport and gender equality.

Transport      

Meeting NetZero

It is clear transport and transport infrastructure are key priorities for all parties going into this election, with a key theme being investment in greener transport and reaching ‘NetZero.’

The Conservative party have prioritised investment in electric buses and aviation as well as giving £1m to develop a national ‘Plug-In Network’ and Gigafactory to help speed up the roll out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. 

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and to devolve powers to regions to decide their own transport infrastructure plans.

The Lib Dems have committed to a ‘Clean Air Act’ as well as £130bn investment in upgrading to green transport and climate friendly infrastructure. Whereas Labour will accelerate a ‘Green Industrial Revolution,’ which aims to create multiple funds to assist the development of green infrastructure; from electrification of rail, active travel funding, electric vehicles and car clubs.

The SNP has committed to all new cars being electric by 2032 and will help the public with the cost of ultra-low emission vehicles. The party has pledged to invest £500m in bus travel making it a greener and more efficient option, as well as reducing emissions from Scotland’s railways to zero by 2035. They will create a ‘National Investment Bank’ which will give £2bn to help infrastructure projects transform Scotland as well as the creation of the National Infrastructure Mission aiming to invest £7bn in Scotland until 2026.

Rail

On rail infrastructure, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to support HS2, while the Conservatives will consider the findings of the Oakervee review and work with leaders in the Midlands and the North to decide the optimal outcome.

The Liberal Democrats are continuing their commitment to Crossrail 2 and each of the main English parties are committed to Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The Conservatives have also promised £4.2bn of new spending on local train, bus and tram services if they win the general election.

In line with promises made at their party conference, a Labour government would bring the railways back into public ownership. The SNP would support full Scottish public sector control of the structure, governance and operation of the Scottish railway system.

Buses

The Conservatives have pledged to invest in superbus networks with lower fares – flat fares in urban areas – and increased frequency. A Conservative government would keep bus fares low, bring back and protect rural routes, and speed up journey times. They will invest in electric buses and develop the UK’s first all-electric-bus town.

Labour has committed to ensure councils improve bus services by regulating and taking public ownership of local bus networks. Where councils take control of their bus services, Labour has pledged free bus travel for those aged under-25.

The Lib Dem manifesto commits to increasing investment in buses, enabling local authorities to restore old routes and open new ones.

Roads

The Conservatives have committed to £28.8bn for strategic and local road improvements. Whereas, Labour will invest in local roads, pavements and cycleways to ensure safer everyday journeys of both drivers and vulnerable road users.

Cycling and Walking

Labour have pledged to increase funding for walking and cycling. Similarly, the Liberal Democrats propose to introduce a nationwide strategy to promote walking and cycling, including the creation of dedicated safe cycling lanes, increasing spending per head five-fold to reach 10 per cent of the transport budget. The Conservatives have stated, should they win a majority, they will invest £350m for a Cycling Infrastructure Fund.

The SNP will also support sustainable transport choices, reducing VAT on bicycles.

Heathrow Expansion

The Liberal Democrats oppose Heathrow expansion, while Labour and the Conservatives have set air quality and noise pollution measures as pre-conditions for their support.

Read more about what the manifestos say on transport.  


Gender Equality and supporting parents

Overall, there have been consistent themes relating to equality across all the main parties’ manifestos yet, there is a disparate level of commitment. The Conservatives have stated they will support female entrepreneurs, champion flexible working in companies and assist women who are full-time carers. A Conservative government would also establish a new £1bn fund to help create more high quality, affordable childcare, including before and after school and during the school holidays. Aside from these mentions, there is little else in the way of specific guarantees.

Maternity and paternity pay is at the forefront of the other parties with all of them committing to extending leave and increasing pay. Domestic abuse legislation is also a key focus of manifestos, perhaps a direct result of the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill.

Labour have stated they will have extra protection, especially in the workplace for pregnant women and those going through menopause. They will establish a National Women’s Commission to report to government as well as creating a Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.

Labour will also act on closing the gender pay gap by 2030 and make large corporations (over 250 employees) obtain government certification on gender equality or face further auditing and fines. The threshold will be lowered to companies with 50 employees by 2020, and the necessary additional support will be offered for small businesses. Similarly, the Liberal Democrats will require companies to publish their parental leave and pay data as well as pushing for a change in law to mandate flexible working in all companies. They will also encourage blind recruitment in the private sector and push for FTSE350 companies to have 40 per cent of their boards as women.

The SNP also would support legislation made in the UK that would enforce a 50/50 representation of women on public and private sector boards and have committed to fining businesses who fail to meet the agreed Equal Pay standard, as well as extending redundancy protection for pregnant women.

Although there is suggestion in most manifestos that STEM industries need more funding, there is no mention of promoting and encouraging more women in the sector. 

There is an obvious emphasis on creating a more equal society, particularly in the work sphere. However, it will be interesting to see if these manifesto pledges come to fruition.

Read more about what the manifestos say on gender equality and supporting parents.

Find out more

Please visit our website if you would like to find out more about JFG Comms and our work connecting people and policymakers and improving workplace gender diversity. If you need advice on what the General Election and the new Government will mean for your business, please get in touch or sign up to our blog.