I think it’s safe to say even after a weekend that there is still a state of disbelief about what happened last Thursday evening and Friday morning. As we watched the drama unfold at the Chamber’s Election Allnighter at times it felt like we were watching some sort of political episode of the Twilight Zone.
Well, yes it was real and despite all the opinion polls, predictions and forecasts we now have a Conservative majority government.
I have to admit it took us by surprise. For weeks we’ve been looking at the “what next” question for our Campaign for Business as we planned for a few weeks of coalition negotiations and a possible second election before getting back to business and establishing new positions on key business themes. So much for that!
No doubt the post mortem will continue for a while to come and by Summer we’ll be a bit jaded with party leadership contests but to be honest my focus is now on the here and now and what our immediate activity is.
Congratulatory letters to all our MPs are on their way, we are watching closely who gets the ministerial jobs and also the key opposition roles – Shadow Chancellor anyone? We’ve also started to delve into the Conservative manifesto a bit deeper and also scanning for any hints at what may be in the Queens Speech at the end of the month. Whether you love or hate the government it has to be said having clarity on this stuff is making the job easier.
We will be assessing and, if necessary, re-positioning our 5 Campaign themes with as much help from our members and other business as possible. Some immediate big issues to be dealt with include the continued roll-out of GM Devolution which should continue with clarity and speed now – especially if the government has to deal with greater pressure from the SNP. We’ll also have the whole EU referendum question to contend with which could actually make or break this government. Airport expansion will be high up the list of urgent issues. If you recall the Davies Review was “kicked into the long grass” a few months ago for post election follow up. Well, the lawnmower’s out now and the grass is being trimmed.
There are genuinely interesting and exciting times ahead for business in Greater Manchester and a real chance to set the agenda. Look out for how we will make this happen. The country may well have spoken last week but the voice of business must carry on being heard.