The political party manifestos – what do they mean for designers?

With the major political parties unveiling their manifestos this week ahead of the 7 May General Election, we take a look at what they’re promising designers.

© Johnny Greig
© Johnny Greig

As the major political parties unveil their manifestos ahead of the 7 May election, we look at what they mean for the design industry.

Ahead of the election campaign, Design Week also interviewed the five major parties – the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the UK Independence Party – to find out what they are promising designers. You can read their responses here.

Labour leader Ed Miliband
Labour leader Ed Miliband


The Labour Party Manifesto is described as a “plan to reward hard work, share prosperity and build a better Britain”.

One of the manifesto’s most headline-grabbing aspects is the “budget responsibility lock” – the party claims that every policy in its manifesto is paid for and not one commitment requires additional borrowing.

As already announced by Labour leader Ed Miliband, the party promises to set up a Prime Minister’s Committee on the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries, with membership drawn from “all sectors and regions”. Labour says this body will be used to “bring issues of concern direct to the attention of the Prime Minister”.

The Labour manifesto describes creativity as “the powerhouse of a prosperous economy” and also features pledges to increase the number of apprenticeships in the creative industries and to “guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education” for children.

With regards to business, the Labour manifesto promises that Britain “will continue to have the most competitive rate of corporation tax in the G7”.

The party also pledges to “drive innovation and build on our strengths as a leader in digital technology”, saying” “We are just at the start of the internet revolution”.

Labour also says it will set up a National Infrastructure Commission to “asses how best to meet Britain’s infrastructure needs”.

Small Businesses get their own section in the manifesto, with Labour promising to set up a Small Business Administration, which will “give them a voice at the heart of government”. It also promises to ensure procurement contracts are “accessible” and regulations “are designed with small firms in mind”.

Previously, Labour’s then Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Chuka Umunna told Design Week that Labour was committed to supporting the design industry by creating more jobs and working to ensure the Intellectual Property regime is “fit for purpose”.

Conservative leader David Cameron
Conservative leader David Cameron

The Conservatives

The Conservative Party Manifesto promises “strong leadership: a clear economic plan; a brighter, more secure future”. The Conservatives say that under the previous coalition government, Britain is now “one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world”, with 1,000 new jobs created each day.

The manifesto hails the UK’s creative industries as Britain’s fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion a year. The Conservatives say they will continue to support the creative sector through tax reliefs such as tax credits for children’s television and will aim to protect intellectual property and tackle piracy.

The party says it plans to invest more than £100 billion in infrastructure over the next parliament – with £790m million going to extending superfast broadband to rural areas.

With regards to business, the Conservatives promise “the most competitive business tax regime in the G20” and point to their moves to cut corporation tax from 28 to 20 per cent and extend by 100 per cent the Small Business Tax Rate Relief.

It says that it will conduct a “major review” of business rates by the end of the year to ensure that “by 2017 they properly reflect the structure of our modern economy”.

For small businesses, the Conservatives say they will treble its Start Up Loans programme and aim for small businesses to receive one-third of central Government procurement contracts. It also pledges to bring in a Small Business Conciliation Service, to mediate in disputes such as late payment.

Previously, then Conservative Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy told Design Week that the Tories would support the design industry by supporting creative industry skills, building a strong economy and increasing digital capability across government.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat manifesto promises “stronger economy; fairer society; opportunity for everyone.” It says the party is looking to create an “optimistic, open-hearted and outward-looking United Kingdom”.

In the manifesto, the Lib Dems say: “[We] understand that arts, creative industries and culture are crucial to Britain’s success and essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life.

“The UK’s creative sector has been one of the great success stories of the past five years, and a critical driver of our recovery.”

The party says it will continue to support the Creative Industries Council, back “modern and flexible” patent and copyright laws and “address the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses”.

The manifesto includes a pledge to double innovation and research spending across the economy, including developing more “catapult” innovation centres.

The Lib Dems say they will also make small businesses “the priority for any business tax cuts” and look to remove “unnecessary” business regulation.

The manifesto also carries a pledge to support the UK’s digital sector, which, according to the Lib Dems, is growing at a rate of 10 per cent each year and currently employs nearly 1.5 million people. The party says it will aim to build on the model of London’s Tech City with a nationwide network of technology incubators and also commits to developing the Government Digital Service and promoting the Digital by Default principle in the public sector.

When previously asked by Design Week what they would do to support the design industry, a statement from the party said that it would support apprenticeship schemes in the sector and promote regional design businesses through the Regional Growth Fund.

A Green Party campaigner
A Green Party campaigner

The Green Party

The Green Party manifesto positions them as the party “for the common good”. It features pledges to “help heal the planet”, “become more equal” and “create a truly democratic central and local government”.

The party says “public support for the arts is part of a civilised society”. In its manifesto says it will increase government funding to the arts by £500 million each year “to restore the cuts made since 2010”. It also pledges to “reinstate proper levels of funding for local authorities”.

With regards education, the party says it would introduce “a broad, balanced and enriching curriculum, including create and vocational areas” and also abolish league tables in favour of evaluation by parents, teachers and the local community.

The Greens say they are champions of “small businesses and the local economy” and will aim to support SMEs by reducing National Insurance to 8 per cent and investing £2 billion into community banks to serve local areas or particular groups.

Green Party candidate for Liverpool Riverside Martin Dobson had previously told Design Week that the party would support the design industry by “helping the whole economy” – investing in the public sector and skills and also promoting creativity in schools.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage
UKIP leader Nigel Farage

The UK Independence Party

The UK Independence Party manifesto carries the title “believe in Britain”. UKIP describes the document as a collection of “serious, fully-costed policies”.

Most notably for designers, UKIP promises to abolish the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of a drive to cut Westminster costs. The party says DCMS’s responsibilities will be “merged into other departments”.

The UKIP manifesto carries an entire section dedicated to small businesses. UKIP says it will support small businesses by extending the Small Business Rate Relief scheme and cracking down on late payments to improve business cashflow.

It also promises to make it easier for small businesses to tender for major contracts by “removing the necessity to demonstrate compliance in areas irrelevant to the job being tendered for”.

UKIP culture spokesman Peter Whittle previously told Design Week that the party would support the design industry by moving to free it from “the stifling and restrictive regulation which results from Britain’s membership of the EU”.

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