Labour lays out its manifesto promises for UK tech – here’s what you need to know

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, speaks to the audience during a Sky News election event with Sky's political editor Beth Rigby.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UK Labour Party launched its 2024 manifesto this week, including plans for the tech sector such as bolstering national digital infrastructure, AI regulation, and more.

The country’s largest opposition party laid out the bulk of its plans for tech in a subsection of the manifesto, dubbed ‘driving innovation,’ in which it set out some of its key focuses for the industry.

“Britain has many cutting-edge businesses, but innovation needs to be converted into commercial success in every corner of our country,” the manifesto states.

Seeking to drive innovation and commercial success, Labour promised to pursue an industrial strategy supportive of the AI sector, with a key focus on “removing planning barriers” to new data centers.

This would, in theory, drive data center development and serve as part of wider tech development in the UK. In a similar vein, Labour promised to update “national planning policy” more widely to support the construction of laboratories, digital infrastructure, and gigafactories.

On the infrastructure front, Labour committed to a “renewed push” to achieve full gigabit and national 5G coverage by 2030, saying that to date “investment in 5G is falling behind other countries and the rollout of gigabit broadband has been slow”.

Labour’s other commitment came in response to growing concerns surrounding responsible AI development.

Speaking generally, the party said it will create a new Regulatory Innovation Office to help aid regulation within the context of “the dramatic development of new technologies”.

More specifically, Labour will pursue safety in AI development by introducing “binding regulation on the handful of companies developing the most powerful AI models”, it said.

There was less attention given to AI implementation, although Labour did commit to rolling out the technology where possible in the UK’s health services. This would be done in an effort to “transform the speed and accuracy of diagnostic services,” among other things.

Labour promised to “scrap short funding cycles” for key research and development institutions in favor of 10 year budgets that foster more “meaningful” industry partnerships, likely including the tech industry.

The party alluded to the problem of cyber security as part of a wider plan to reduce crime in the UK.

“Criminals never stop looking for new ways to target victims. Police must change the way they operate too, with technology and investigative techniques keeping pace with modern threats,” they said.

The party also promised to work with national policing bodies and members of the police to “standardize approaches to procurement, IT, professional standards and training”.

How do the two main parties stack up on tech?

Having recently released its own manifesto ahead of the July 4th election day, the Conservative Party also made commitments to UK tech – albeit far less, than some industry experts would have liked. 

Amanda Brock, CEO of OpenUK, recently described the Conservative manifesto as an “opportunity missed”.


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On AI regulation specifically, Emma Woollcott, Partner at Mishcon de Reya law firm, told ITPro that Labour’s pledge to regulate AI contrasted with “the Conservatives' vaguer manifesto statement” on AI regulation and safety.

The Conservative Party has put policies in place during its near-14-year tenure, however, with draft codes of practice for AI cyber security and an AI bill in the works.

Under Rishi Sunak’s leadership, the government also hosted the world’s first AI Safety Summit last year, which saw global leaders and industry stakeholders explore the possibility of a more aligned approach to AI safety.

The current chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, also made a few commitments in the 2024 spring budget, although experts again called for more clarity.

George Fitzmaurice
Staff Writer

George Fitzmaurice is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a particular interest in AI regulation, data legislation, and market development. After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature, he undertook an internship at the New Statesman before starting at ITPro. Outside of the office, George is both an aspiring musician and an avid reader.