AI and data policies in the 2024 UK General Election: a comparative analysis

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As the UK approaches the 2024 general election, AI and data policies have emerged as significant, though somewhat understated, topics in the manifestos of the major political parties. While issues like healthcare, housing, and the cost of living dominate the public discourse, the pledges regarding AI and data offer a glimpse into each party's vision for the country's technological future. This article delves into the AI and data strategies proposed by the Liberal Democrats, Labour, and Conservative parties, highlighting their commitments to innovation, regulation, and the integration of advanced technologies into public services.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats focus on establishing a robust regulatory framework for AI, emphasizing innovation, transparency, and accountability. They propose:

  1. Creating a Regulatory Framework: A cross-sectoral framework that promotes innovation, provides certainty for AI users and developers, and ensures transparency and accountability in AI systems, particularly in the public sector.
  2. International Collaboration: Negotiating the UK’s participation in the Trade and Technology Council with the US and the EU to play a leading role in global AI regulation, setting common standards for AI risk and impact assessment, testing, monitoring, and auditing.
  3. Data and Privacy Protection: Ensuring the use of personal data in AI is unbiased, transparent, accurate, and respects privacy.
  4. AI and Data in Healthcare: Leveraging AI to enhance diagnostic services within the NHS, emphasising the importance of innovation and adoption of new technologies. A ‘Patients Charter’ to protect ‘patients’ right to opt out of data sharing’ in the NHS. Developing a digital strategy to enable care users to live tech-enabled lives and expanding the NHS Digital Staff Passport to include the care sector.
  5. Tax on Big Tech: Raising the Digital Services Tax on major tech companies from 2% to 6%, impacting significant AI firms.
  6. Data Strategy in Criminal Justice: Introducing a new data strategy across the criminal justice system to ensure capacity meets demand and to understand the needs of all users.
  7. Public Engagement and Safety: Establishing national and local citizens’ assemblies to focus on the use of AI and algorithms by the state, and introducing a Digital Bill of Rights to protect individuals’ data and privacy, referencing a regulatory framework for biometric surveillance and a UK-wide target for digital literacy.

Labour Party

The Labour Party envisions AI as a transformative tool in various sectors, particularly in healthcare and public services. Their key pledges include:

  1. Healthcare Transformation: Harnessing the power of AI to enhance the speed and accuracy of diagnostic services in the NHS. AI will also play a significant role in shifting the NHS focus towards prevention.
  2. Industrial Strategy Support: Supporting the AI sector through an industrial strategy that removes planning barriers for new datacentres and creates a National Data Library to consolidate research programs, ensuring data-driven public services while maintaining strong safeguards.
  3. Regulatory Innovation Office: Establishing a new Regulatory Innovation Office to help regulators update regulations, speed up approval timelines, and address issues spanning existing boundaries, ensuring safe AI development and use.
  4. Data-Driven Public Services: Enhancing data sharing across services to provide equal opportunities and support children and families more effectively, using unique identifiers for transformative AI-powered research.
  5. Digital Skills and Infrastructure: Making it easier to build digital infrastructure and supporting digital forensics and essential digital speaking and creative skills for children.
  6. Banning Harmful AI Uses: Introducing binding regulations on companies developing powerful AI models and banning the creation of sexually explicit deepfakes.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party highlights the UK's leadership in AI and its potential to drive economic and social progress. Their manifesto includes:

  1. Investment in AI Infrastructure: Increasing public spending on R&D to £22 billion a year and investing over £1.5 billion in large-scale compute clusters to support AI research and its safe, responsible use.
  2. Healthcare Innovations: In line with the NHS Productivity Plan, using AI to improve NHS efficiency by freeing up doctors’ and nurses’ time, digitising processes, and speeding up diagnostic results with AI-powered tools, such as rolling out new digital health checks to 250,000 more people every year.
  3. Global Leadership in AI Safety: Maintaining the UK’s position as a global leader in AI safety, fostering innovation through simplified R&D tax reliefs, and continuing support for the tech ecosystem.
  4. Digital and AI Expertise in Government: Doubling digital and AI expertise in the civil service to leverage the latest technologies for transforming public services and cutting bureaucracy.
  5. Comparable Data Across the UK: Legislating to deliver comparable data across the UK between devolved governments to accurately compare public service performance.

Find out more

If you are interested in how AI and data policies will shape the future following the UK general election, visit and bookmark our Spotlight AI hub for more insights. The Hub brings together commentary from Ashfords’ experts, our clients, and our contacts across a wide range of areas, examining the potential impacts of these technologies as their use evolves.

Please do also get in touch if there are any specific areas related to AI and data that you’d be interested in hearing more about, especially in the context of the upcoming election and its implications.

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