With the 2019 general election looming, Maritime UK, the umbrella body for multiple sectors of the marine industry, have released their manifesto for the sector’s priorities for an incoming government.
The manifesto sets out a number of priorities that the organisation believes the government should focus on, including innovation, the environment, competitiveness and regional growth.
As an island nation maritime remains incredibly important to the UK’s economy, adding more money than rail and air combined, but what do the big three political parties plan to do if they win power?
As well as the maritime sector, there will be a focus on STEM industries as the incoming government aims to re-invigorate the economy whilst shipbuilding and defence remain important issues.
The current party of government has claimed they are ‘bringing shipbuilding home’ with the new Type 31 project awarded to Babcock for five new Royal Navy warships, as well as a number of vessels to be sold overseas.
The party’s manifesto – titled: Get Brexit Done – Unleash Britain’s Potential – however, only mentions the maritime sector once, with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in the form of 20 new Technology Institutes as part of a £2 billion investment into further education.
The manifesto also includes a commitment to establish a new £500 million Blue Planet Fund to protect oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing, as well as extending the Blue Belt programme to preserve the maritime environment. The paragraph also explains the Conservatives aim to lead diplomatic efforts in protecting 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
With no explicit mention of the Maritime industry in their manifesto – titled: It’s Time For Real Change – The Labour Party have promised to publish a Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper, including a National Shipbuilding Strategy, that keeps all Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary shipbuilding contracts in the UK.
Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s previous opposition to the nuclear deterrent, the manifesto pledges a renewal of the Trident nuclear system as well as targeted bursaries for women, BAME people, care leavers, ex-armed forces personnel, and people with disabilities to encourage them to take up climate apprenticeships – something Labour calls ‘the STEM of the future.’
In what they call a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ Labour has promised to create at least one million jobs described as ‘unionised’ and ‘well-paid.’
The manifesto also aims to tackle the global plastics crisis with the creation of a new plastics remanufacturing industry for job creation and environmental protection.
The Liberal Democrats also do not focus specifically on maritime in their heavily anti-Brexit manifesto titled: Jo Swinson’s Plan For Britain’s Future.
The manifesto relies heavily on the £50 billion the Liberal Democrats say will be saved and reinvested if the UK revokes article 50 and remains in the EU. Part of their policy on STEM is to recruit graduates to be armed forces engineers, providing ‘golden handshakes’ of up to £10,000.
The party also promised to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent, while pursuing multilateral nuclear disarmament and continuing with the Dreadnought programme, the submarine-based replacement for Vanguard, but procuring three boats and moving to a medium-readiness responsive posture and maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and irregular patrolling patterns.
Environmentally the Lib Dem’s focus is to argue for new legally binding international targets to protect global biodiversity, and an ‘effective’ global oceans treaty to create a network of ocean sanctuaries.
With the election just under a fortnight away, it remains to be seen which party will get the opportunity to put their plans into action.