Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election should provide a welcome short-term boost for the printing industry.
The Prime Minister made the surprise announcement this morning (18 April), calling a general election for Thursday 8 June. Up until today, Downing Street had said that there would not be such an intervention before the next election, which had been scheduled for 2020.
She said she was calling the election "reluctantly" in the face of "political game-playing".
"Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country. So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin," she stated.
The decision now needs to be ratified by two-thirds of MPs before it can go ahead.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement endorsing the move, and said Labour would be offering the country “an effective alternative”.
He said: “I welcome the PM’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.”
The election is likely to result in a short-term boost for printers, as political parties swing into campaign action.
“It will generate a lot of print, because print as we know is the most engaging medium from which to absorb information,” said BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold.
“I think it’s a fascinating situation. I’ve said all along that I thought it would be good for the government to go to the country, having had the referendum,” he added. “Generally this is a good thing. It will be hard-fought, but it will enable everyone to move on from the referendum, and to move on in a more seamless manner.”
At the last general election in 2015, printers including St Ives’ print management wing, Bishops Printers, Adare, Carousel Print and the now-defunct Anton Group were among those who benefited from the requirement for campaign and ballot paper printing.
Adare chief executive Robert Whiteside told PrintWeek: “A general election always means lots of print and that is obviously good news for the print industry. That is certainly the case for Adare as we have relationships with circa 50 councils in the UK whereby we will be servicing their requirements in terms of election-related print”.
In 2015 political parties deployed a variety of print techniques and types of collateral, including door-drop leaflets and posters, stickers, and targeted personalised mailings in key constituencies.
Conservative MP William Wragg has already tweeted a call for volunteers to help with “canvassing, leaflet delivery, posters etc”.
To help with my election campaign- canvassing, leaflet delivery, posters etc- email email@example.com— William Wragg MP (@William_Wragg) April 18, 2017
THANK YOU! pic.twitter.com/rRmCl1IyP2
However, one print boss cautioned that the election could also cause uncertainty, albeit for a short period. “It’s a mixed picture because there will be a degree of uncertainty as well as a short-term boost to print. But if it brings more certainty to the market going forward then it will be beneficial,” he said.
Election spending is also subject to regulation and scrutiny. Last month the Conservative Party was fined £70,000 following an investigation by the Electoral Commission into campaign spending. The investigation found "significant failures" to accurately report how much was spent on campaigning at three by-elections in 2014 and at the 2015 general election.