The political year ahead

By Julia Ogiehor, Policy and Trade Relations Manager, ABTA

As we awaken from the festive slumber and face the reality of the coming year, the focus for many of us in public affairs has shifted towards the upcoming General Election. Much like many, I spent the period between holiday excesses and listening to political podcasts reflecting on the past year and anticipating what 2024 holds. Here's my take to contribute to the existing plethora of opinions.
The two major political parties are actively shaping and testing their primary campaign messages. While the emphasis may shift based on economic and political circumstances, certain key areas are likely to feature prominently in their policies.

Economy and Cost of Living
The election campaign will revolve around the economy and the persistent rising cost of living crisis. The Conservatives will undoubtedly highlight their track record of economic growth and job creation, including halving inflation. Simultaneously, Labour will draw attention to ongoing economic and healthcare challenges, such as soaring energy prices and lengthy NHS waiting lists. Both parties aim to address the concerns of voters facing financial difficulties, with Labour leaning towards more interventionist measures and the Conservatives emphasising tax cuts and market-based solutions.

The NHS remains a pivotal issue in UK elections, and the 2024 campaign will be no exception. The Conservatives are likely to underscore their NHS funding record, while Labour criticises perceived underfunding and long waiting times. Both parties commit to improving healthcare services, with Labour already pledging £1.1bn to reduce waiting lists and the Conservatives emphasising innovation and efficiency.

Social Justice and Equality
Issues of social justice and equality will feature prominently in the election campaign. The Conservatives will emphasise their efforts in addressing poverty and inequality, while Labour critiques the Government for not adequately addressing entrenched disparities. Both parties promise action on homelessness, education inequality, and social mobility, with Labour proposing more targeted interventions and the Conservatives advocating for broader economic growth.

Decarbonisation and Climate Change
The commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will take centre stage in the election campaign. The Conservatives will highlight their achievements in decarbonising the energy sector, while Labour will most certainly criticise the Government for perceived inadequacy. Both parties commit to accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy, with Labour advocating for more ambitious targets and the Conservatives stressing the need for a balanced approach that safeguards the economy.
These key areas, though not exhaustive, will significantly shape the campaign narrative and influence the outcome. As the election approaches, the parties will refine their strategies. However, relying solely on polls predicting a Labour victory due to anti-Tory sentiment is risky, given polls have been wrong before. Caution is advised as the electoral landscape evolves.