Politicians don’t need reassurance from the engineering and manufacturing sectors. They need continuing pressure on the challenges facing the sectors
The 100 large employers who have today backed the Conservative party in the General Election campaign may have missed an opportunity. By no means all of the businesses listed in the letter to the Daily Telegraph are involved with engineering or manufacturing; but for those that are, throwing their weight behind a single party (any party) may be more likely to encourage complacency from the political sector, rather than further moves towards solving some of industry’s more pressing issues.
It would be tempting for the Conservative leadership to look at the signatories of the letter and think ‘Well, we’ve got them in the bag, no need to worry.’ But that would be a mistake. Many issues, such as investment in various types of energy, infrastructure and defence plans (including the looming issues of Trident renewal and the continuing controversy over HS2); airport expansion and provision of apprenticeships remain unresolved.
It’s often said, by us and our readers, that one of the things that is lacking in the UK is a strong voice for engineering and manufacturing to lobby government. At a point when the politicians are bound to be listening, being as they are all temporarily unemployed, it seems that this might be a better opportunity to keep pressure on the political parties by drawing attention to what’s needed, rather than offering bland reassurances that they’re on the right track when it’s been obvious for years that they need continual nudges to keep them in the right direction.
While the signatories to the Tory-supporting letter acted in a personal capacity rather than on behalf of their companies (which is quite correct), a louder representation of the voices of working engineers would be more welcome to us, both during the election campaign and continuing into the next Parliament.