2017 Election Manifestos: Potential Impact On Advertising

19 May 2017

Last week, three of the UK’s biggest political parties, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, released their manifestos for the upcoming General Election.

Proposals relating to the economy, Brexit and social justice featured heavily across all three, but what implications will the vote on 08 June have for advertisers? 

Below is an overview of the key policies that may impact the industry:

Championing the digital media environment

Society’s (both commercial and personal) increasing dependence on digital technologies was clearly reflected in the manifestos released last week, with all three parties identifying digital opportunities as key to future economic success.


As part of their plan to deliver a dynamic digital economy, the Conservatives have pledged to:  

  • Give businesses access to the investment, skills and talent they need to succeed, including having access to the ‘best talent from overseas’.
  • Deliver a ‘Digital Charter’, with one of the aims being to make Britain the best place to start and run a digital business. This will be underpinned by a regulatory framework that will ensure digital companies, social media platforms and content providers will have to abide by the principles they set out.
  • As far as privacy and data are concerned, the Conservatives aim to implement a new data protection law to provide protections for people’s data online


 Labour’s commitments to growing the digital economy include:

  • Ensuring that trade agreements do not impede cross-border data flows.
  • Appoint a Digital Ambassador to liaise with tech companies and ensure businesses are ready to grow and prosper in the digital age.
  • Regarding data and online privacy, the party has also outlined an initiative that obliges companies to take measures to tackle online abuse and have committed to ‘maintaining strong data protection rules’.

Liberal Democrats:

 The Lib Dems digital ambitions have focused on:

  • A review of the Business Rates system, prioritising reforms that recognise the development of the digital economy
  • Building digital skills in the UK and doubling the number of SMEs participating in the digital economy.
  • Introduce a digital bill of rights that protects people’s powers over their own information. 

Promoting a diverse, innovative and high quality media environment

Although the full implications of Brexit remain to be seen, the importance of retaining and promoting a strong, diverse and innovative creative industry has been outlined as key to any future economic plans.


Access to relevant skills, tax credits and media regulation all feature in the party’s manifesto, with the key commitments including :

  • Ensuring a sustainable business model for high-quality media online, to create a level playing field for our media and creative industries.
  • Help to provide creative companies with the skills and digital infrastructure they need, while building upon the favourable tax arrangements, including the creative industries tax credits scheme.
  • Growing digital and creative businesses throughout the UK.
  • The party has also outlined that they will be consistent in their approach to the regulation of online and offline media.


 The Labour party make specific reference to the importance of the creative industry, outlining plans to upgrade infrastructure and protect media freedoms. The party’s main objectives include:

  • Putting our world-class creative sector at the heart of negotiations and future industrial strategy.
  • Opening up the industry and upgrading the creative infrastructure to be ready for the digital age, plus investing in creative clusters across the country.
  • Protecting media freedom by taking steps to ensure that Ofcom is better able to safeguard a healthy plurality of media ownership.
  • Labour will also hold a national review of local media and into the ownership of national media to ensure plurality.

Liberal Democrats:

 On the creative industries, the party’s plans include:

  • Continuing to support the Creative Industries Council and tailored industry-specific tax support, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules.
  • Addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses.
  • Continue the drive for diversity in business leadership.

Responsible advertising and industry self-regulation

While the Conservatives have not made any specific references to placing restrictions on advertising, both the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats have included initiatives aimed at Childhood obesity and HFSS advertising.


The party have made a clear intention to prioritise childhood obesity, with intentions to publish a new strategy within the first 100 days, which would include:

  • Proposals on advertising and food labelling.
  • Efforts to address childhood oral health, with plans to introduce the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, commonly known as the ‘sugar tax’.

Liberal Democrats:

Much like the Labour Party, the Lib Dems have made childhood obesity a key issue, with intentions to:

  • Restrict the marketing of junk food to children and restrict TV advertising before the 9pm watershed.
  • Close loopholes in the sugary drinks tax and introduce mandatory targets on sugar reduction for food and drink producers.
  • The party is also looking to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol, subject to the final outcome of the legal challenge in Scotland.

ISBA's Response

ISBA will work with the incoming government of whatever hue to ensure that our members are free to advertise responsibly in a secure, safe and diverse media landscape.


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