Tuesday, 27 May 2014

What could UKIPs success mean an earthquake for public procurement strategy?

UKIP have had a remarkable electoral success over the last week. Their European Manifesto is entitled 'Create an earthquake' - perhaps it's worth considering what their manifestos say and the possible implications for procurement strategy where they have become a dominant voice.

Actually, the European Manifesto, from a procurement perspective is 'Business as Usual' but the UKIP Local Manifesto states they will: 
Make it easier for smaller and local businesses to tender for local authority contracts, and Cut the councils’ advertising and self-promotion budgets.
Now, to me this is interesting when compared with my comments on last year's Manifesto. Strangely I can no longer access the 2013 Manifesto but my comments last year suggested the following:

  1. Greater focus on cost reduction as opposed to service cuts;
  2. Resistance to the EU procurement regulations;
  3. Resistance to awarding contracts to non-UK businesses;
  4. Cynicism over the effectiveness of previous initiatives designed to support local businesses;
  5. Questions on how to make it easier for local businesses to tender for contracts;
  6. Challenge on the need to embed equalities in procurement; 
  7. Environmental procurement resisted;
  8. A resurgence in the desire to support third sector organisation;
  9. Cynicism that the procurement manger is committed to serving the citizenry as opposed to their own self-interest;
  10. Expect a need to justify existing procurement staff numbers.
If my interpretation of last year's manifesto was an accurate reflection of what was said as opposed to 'what it could look like', it appears that UKIP are seeing public procurement less of a policy tool. Is that because of a lack of confidence in political procurement?

Local UKIP of 2014 seem to have tempered their aspirations but have become more targeted. It is particularly interesting that they want to cut advertising budgets. This is an area, like all of the marketing budgets, where procurement tends to be 'left out'. Perhaps it's time to start getting on top of the 'how to buy advertising', preparing for the future and using this as an opportunity to add value.

In terms of UKIPs aspiration of making it easier for local SMEs to bid for council business, virtually every party says "snap" - the problem isn't the aspiration it's delivery. I say somewhat tongue in cheek, everyone says that, what about saying, "we want to improve our procurement skills so that we are better able to deal with major businesses"?

In answer to my own question - no, UKIPs success isn't an earthquake for public procurement strategy but is a warning of a potential tsunami approaching in 2015 as more voters gain confidence that voting UKIP isn't for, as the current UK Prime Minister once suggested, "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" .

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