Opinion: It’s a majority – now let’s get down to work

Opinion: It’s a majority – now let’s get down to work

A decisive election result will have been broadly pleasing to an industry looking for clear leadership on some key issues, says Abta’s head of public affairs Stephen D’Alfonso

In the aftermath of Thursday’s vote, a part of me remains rather surprised that I’m able to write convincingly about a functioning Government.

For months, the polls have had the two main parties in a dead heat.
If I’m completely honest, just like everyone else, I expected a hung Parliament to be the outcome – however, when I participated in the Travel Weekly breakfast panel back in March at Deloitte’s London HQ, I took a leap and suggested that we might see a very slim Conservative majority.

I felt comfortable making this prediction for four reasons.
The first reason is fairly straightforward – I really had nothing to lose in making such a guess, and I thought it would be fun to be a bit contrarian.
Secondly, back in March, the campaign hadn’t officially begun, and I was anticipating an incumbency momentum that would likely help propel Tory success.

I was proven wrong on this point during the campaign as the polls remained stubbornly stagnant; however this factor is likely to have been at play on Thursday after all. 
Thirdly, I took note of the mighty SNP wave that had been cannibalising Scottish Labour since the referendum.

SNP support had shown no sign of abating, and Labour would be heavily reliant on seats in Scotland for success. I also suspected that this situation would help the Tories with English voters.
Finally, it’s been clear from year-one of the Coalition that the Liberal Democrats were in trouble, and their South West heartland has long been seen as fertile ground for the Conservatives.
These last three factors coalesced on Thursday to give the Prime Minister his long-coveted majority.
Regardless of what your politics might be, I suspect that many in our industry will feel some relief at the clear result.

Weeks (or months) of the parties haggling to form a Government wouldn’t have been great for consumer confidence, and likely would have spooked the markets.
As this new week begins, the PM will put the finishing touches to his Cabinet and Ministerial team, and hopefully realise that the new Government’s travel and tourism in-tray is very full.

Urgent Government action on some key files is needed, but the wafer-thin Government majority will not make decisive action easy.
A decision on expanding airport capacity will not be straightforward, with many south and west London Conservative MPs, including the newly elected Uxbridge MP Boris Johnson, holding strong opinions on the matter.

The Prime Minister may find himself looking to the other parties, including the SNP, and Labour, in order to cobble together a grand coalition of supporters regardless of whether Heathrow or Gatwick is selected for expansion.
On Air Passenger Duty, the Conservatives have pledged to devolve APD to Scotland, and to ensure this doesn’t adversely affect England.

How to do this without corresponding APD cuts in England isn’t immediately apparent; but what is clear is that we must continue to make our voice heard on APD just as we’re getting traction. 
Today signals the beginning of the industry’s work to help this new Parliament to understand our value, and the policy and tax framework we need to succeed.

Abta has begun our work in earnest over the last six weeks, engaging with all candidates through our #ValueTourism work. As a result, 30 MPs are entering Parliament as advocates for our industry.
There will also be a serious discussion to be had on the governance of the UK, Europe, and our place within it.

All will become clear as the Government delivers its legislative agenda in the Queen’s Speech on May 27.


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