A post-election public affairs checklist

Posted by: on May 31, 2017 | No Comments

With the election only a matter of days away, it is worth considering what actions may be required in the days and weeks that follow. A post-election period should always be a busy one in public affairs.

In the run up to the election there are, of course, decisions to be made about how much to scenario plan. As a starting point, each of the manifestos need to be considered to see where the opportunities and challenges are for your organisation. Such comparisons should be updated in line with new statements and speeches than can sometimes reveal small relevant details. We are all aware also of the possibility of U-turns taking place!

Depending on the culture of your organisation and the resources potentially available to you then could start taking undertaking some more detailed scenario planning. At the very least, you should sketch out what may happen in the event of a Conservative win and maybe even a Labour win. Others may simply choose to wait and see.

There are some sectors that will encounter substantial change whatever the outcome – energy, everyone is looking at you! But we are entering a period of more government intervention and potentially control whoever wins. We should all be thinking along those lines. Whilst ‘unnecessary’ regulations and red tape may go with Brexit, this should not be interpreted as meaning that government and regulators will take less robust action. Indeed, whilst some regulations may fall away, others will come into force over time. It is highly unlikely that they will be a total red tape bonfire. It is important to get this message across internally, especially to senior management and executive teams.

So what immediate actions should you be considering after the election?

  • Early engagement with new ministerial teams – this may seem an obvious action but it has as much to do with ensuring that competitors do not get a head start as it does to do with introducing yourselves and your issues. This would also include other key figures in Parliament such as Chairs of Select Committees.
  • Who is in and who is out? – check out the new MPs but also do not forget the ones who have lost their seats as well. New MPs can make vocal advocates in Parliament and may be willing to get involved in, for instance, All Party Parliamentary Groups. Yes, the immediate priority is on establishing new relationships but old ones can continue to be important as well.  They have their own networks and will go on to other roles, potentially in your sector.  There is also the chance that some may look to re-enter Parliament again in the future. So maintain contact with a view to future opportunities.
  • Manifestos – re-read the winner’s document and think more strategically about how it may play out and what that could mean for consultations, regulations and with a view to the Queen’s Speech that will take place. This is not just about a programme of activity but also the resources that may be required as well.
  • Don’t forget the civil service – when government is back up and running again, all the machinery of government moves into action. Officials will be the ones needing to work out how to implement all those promises made by politicians during the election campaign.  This is your chance to assist them in this process, pointing out the potential pitfalls, areas of likely conflict and ideas for improvement. This type of early engagement is always the right approach.
  • Campaigns – it can be the case that the priorities of the new government are the most controversial aspects of its manifesto. This should be considered in the pre-planning as it will mean mobilising quickly and potentially in a very public way and through the media.

So come 9 June, bleary-eyed or not, public affairs teams need to be ready for action.

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