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We deserve more and should demand more from politicians

Was your European election vote positive or in protest? Maybe both. One thing is for sure, there will be a huge amount read into the result, specifically what it tells us about the likely outcome of a General Election.

Given the turmoil in Downing Street it is unlikely the government will call an early election. That means the next 12 months will present some interesting choices and decisions for civil engineering professionals.

Infrastructure is unquestionably central to government and opposition plans to restart the economy. It is therefore interesting to look at what the various political parties have to attract the civil engineering vote.

As you will read in NCE this week, the views across the profession vary regarding where policy and leadership priorities must be focused.

“Infrastructure is unquestionably central to government and opposition plans to restart the economy.”

Twelve years is a long while for any party to be in power and the current government will of course be judged on its record. But then again, so will the opposition. The good news for civil engineers is that across the board there is a constant theme of commitment to investing in UK infrastructure.

And this has to continue regardless of who is in power. And as I said last week, the government’s failure to spend £300M of its promised economic stimulus is both a disgrace and a mistake.

Yet according to one correspondent this week, my view is somewhat naive. Apparently engineers have become well accustomed to “the ‘smoke and mirrors − double accounting’ modus operandi that perpetuates in government circles”. We now expect, as a matter of course, to be shortchanged at every turn.

Well that may be the case, but for me that is not enough. As responsible professionals, we have to do better than resign ourselves to such a fate. We deserve more and should demand more from our politicians.

“The future of politics is set to be more transparent, more accessible and more accountable to the voters. We will see huge change.”

Not least because, as newspaper polls and street vox-pops tell us, the rest of the population is demanding more. The ongoing scandal and subsequent public outcry over MPs’ expenses demonstrates that for most, resting with the status quo is not enough.

Perhaps the scale of the current economic downturn is responsible for the sudden mobilisation of public support for change. Or maybe it is just a storm being whipped up by a media desperate for a government change.

Whatever − the result is clear. The future of politics is set to be more transparent, more accessible and more accountable to the voters. We will see huge change in the way we are represented and the way that we can influence. Which is good, provided we get one thing from our leaders − individuals with passion and vision for infrastructure. And with very few notable exceptions, this has been sadly lacking of late.

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