Two decades after the party promised an e-envoy, the role is back on Labour's agenda
A Labour government would appoint a "digital ambassador" to ensure the UK is "an attractive place for investment and provide support to start-ups to scale world class digital businesses", according to the draft of the party manifesto leaked yesterday.
The pledge is a highlight of a manifesto otherwise light on digital policy - though as expected there is a pledge on 30Mbps broadband.
Under 'industrial strategy' the manifesto promises: "We will deliver universal superfast broadband by 2022".
On mobile, it notes: "In December, the National Infrastructure Commission ranked the UK 54th in the world for 4G coverage and said the average user could get a signal barely half the time." This is "increasingly holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce."
On data policy, the draft has little to say beyond "Labour is committed to growing the digital economy and ensuring that trade agreements do not impede cross-border data flows, whilst maintaining strong data protection rules to protect personal privacy."
The draft is silent on IT based transformation on public services. The party's leadership appears to have stood back from the proposals made by Jeremy Corbyn in last year's internal election, notably for a digital citizen's passport.
The proposal for a "digital ambassador" will recall Tony Blair's announcement of an 'e-envoy' after Labour's landslide 20 years ago this month, a role that was initially filled by Alex Allen. Whether history repeats itself remains to be seen.
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