Editorial: Labour Wins: A New Tech Strategy for Britain?

Labour Wins: A New Tech Strategy for Britain?

As Labour rolls out ambitious plans, including a focus on AI in healthcare and support for startups, the success of this multifaceted strategy will depend on navigating complex challenges and maintaining a dynamic yet secure tech environment.


With Labour moving into Number 10, will the tech sector enjoy a coming renaissance? As Britain grapples with the fast-paced evolution of tech, cybersecurity threats, and the necessity for robust innovation, the question arises: does the new Labour government have a cohesive and effective tech strategy for the nation?

Tim Grieveson, Senior Vice President and Global Cyber Risk Advisor at Bitsight, has emphasized the importance of balancing innovation with consumer safety. The Labour government is keen on accelerating tech policy implementation to stimulate growth, but Grieveson warns that this should not come at the expense of robust regulatory frameworks. The key lies in establishing risk-based regulations through a customer lens, fostering a productive relationship between technology, government, and the private sector. This approach would ensure that applications, especially in AI and cloud computing, are secure and properly configured without stifling business innovation.

Mark Coates, VP EMEA at Gigamon, highlights the critical need for enhanced cybersecurity measures. The Labour Party’s commitment to “change” is timely, given the recent high-profile cyberattacks on vital national services like the NHS and M O D. The new government must prioritize cybersecurity, making it a boardroom issue with accountable outcomes. Coates underscores that the current efforts are insufficient, with numerous legacy systems at critical risk. Labour’s strategy must include strong legislation, proactive cyber resilience strategies, secure-by-design principles, and comprehensive visibility into organizational data flows.

Labour’s tech promises also include the creation of a Regulatory Innovation Office to tackle digital issues, building on the Online Safety Act. This initiative aims to regulate AI and machine learning development while banning harmful deepfake content.

Additionally, Labour pledges to put R&D funding on a 10-year cycle, simplify government procurement processes, and support startups and university spinouts with necessary capital. These steps are designed to bolster innovation and maintain the UK’s competitive edge in the tech sector.

A notable aspect of Labour’s tech strategy is its focus on leveraging AI to transform the NHS. Plans include digitizing medical records and utilizing AI for diagnostics and faster approval of medicines and technologies. The establishment of a National Data Library to consolidate research programs and deliver data-driven public services is another key promise, potentially revolutionizing the public sector’s efficiency and service delivery.

Eduardo Crespo, VP EMEA at PagerDuty, notes that Labour’s plan for “binding regulation” on AI safety will have widespread implications. Organisations must now scrutinize their AI strategies to mitigate risks effectively. Companies need to establish robust AI processes, ensure ethical AI use, and maintain stringent data protection policies. Compliance is crucial, and any lapses could lead to severe consequences, including hefty fines and loss of trust.

Turning to the continuing chronic skills shortage across the tech sector, Simon Wax, a Partner in the Tech and Media team at Buzzacott, voices the concerns of tech founders who have faced economic uncertainty and challenges in recruiting top overseas talent. Despite worries about potential capital gains tax increases, the tech community appears to welcome Labour’s promises of significant investment in clean and environmental tech, clarity around R&D, and stable corporation and personal taxes. Labour’s commitment to securing solid trade deals in key service sectors also bodes well for the industry.

“All political parties have promised to make the UK a tech powerhouse, yet the last few years have presented tech founders with serious challenges – an uncertain economic environment has hampered M&A activity and an increasingly tough narrative on immigration has made it all but impossible to recruit the best overseas talent,” says Wax.

Labour’s tech strategy for Britain is ambitious and multifaceted, aiming to foster innovation while ensuring robust cybersecurity and regulatory frameworks. Recently at London Tech Week, Peter Kyle, the new Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, told an audience: “Britain is uniquely positioned to benefit from new technologies like AI.” He added that Labour would “place technology at the heart of our missions and unblock tech barriers to restart the engine of our economy.”

The success of this strategy hinges on the government’s ability to balance these elements, providing a secure yet dynamic environment for technological growth. As the new government rolls out its plans, all eyes will be on its ability to deliver on these promises and navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving tech landscape.