The Conservatives signalled their intention of making e-business a political issue at the next election when they accused the government of ‘failing to grasp the realities of the new economy.’
The Tories published a series of pre-manifesto policies under the banner Common Sense for E-Commerce, claiming the party would remove regulation and ensure government departments used e-procurement more effectively.
The Conservatives attacked the government’s record, which shadow cabinet office minister Andrew Lansley said was ‘characterised by increasingly bold statements and relatively poorer performance.’
Lansley claimed that by gearing procurement around new technologies, the Tories could shave 10% off the administrative cost of government over three years.
The party’s pre-manifesto document claims: ‘It can cost the Ministry of Defence £70 to buy one bolt. This is not surprising if the average cost of a purchasing order in government in £68.’
The Tories also said they would ensure there were no ‘broadband black spots’ following the government’s recent failure to sell licences to service providers in large areas of the country.
The level of detail in the party’s pledges shows the Tories believe they can successfully attack the government on one of its favourite issues.
Since coming to power, Labour has launched a string of e-commerce initiatives, with an oft-stated aim to make the UK the best place in the world to conduct business online.
UK Online For Business, the centrepiece of its e-business strategy, will spend £25m helping companies move into e-commerce over three years, including a national network of centres and advisers.
The government said it reached its target of getting 1.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises online two years early.