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As the General Election gets underway, ukactive is ramping up its engagement on all fronts. In the first blog of our new GE24 series, ukactive Director of Research, Policy and Communications, Clemency Lion reflects on the first week of the campaign trail and picks out some key areas of interest.   

Party leaders have set off on the campaign trail this week, visiting areas of the country they wouldn’t often see, using forms of transport they wouldn’t ordinarily use and doing their best to steal the focus of the media and the electorate from their opponents.

It has been good to see the Conservative and Lib Dem leaders, Rishi Sunak and Ed Davey, take the opportunity to get some physical activity into their campaigning early, demonstrating very clearly to the nation that it doesn’t matter what your ability level is, it’s the taking part that counts!

But an election campaign isn’t won or lost on the strength of photo ops and gaffes alone. There have been some strong narratives and policy commitments emerging this week, too.

While National Service and pensions have been first out of the Conservative policy blocks, Labour have been focusing on work and health. This week, Wes Streeting emphasized on BBC Radio 4 that “the health of the nation and the health of the economy are inextricably linked”. Sound familiar? This is a reassuringly similar sentiment to our own key message this year that there can be no growth without health, clear evidence that at least one of the major parties is speaking our language at this early stage of the election campaign.

However, it is vital that all the major Party leaders not only recognise the importance of the nation’s health in achieving the economic growth they seek, but also the intrinsic link to our physical activity levels and the crucial role of the physical activity sector in delivering the change required.

In our statement in reaction to the General Election announcement, we set out the key areas that an incoming Government should be focusing on in order to drive change by increasing activity levels:

  • Drive the integration of the physical activity sector with the NHS
  • Grow the sector to help people maintain their health
  • Tackle economic inactivity
  • Invest in public leisure
  • Improve levels of activity among children

Progress is already being made in many of these areas. For example, the sector has proven itself a valuable partner to the NHS through the success of scalable initiatives such as Musculoskeletal (MSK) Hubs, and prehabilitation and rehabilitation programmes for cancer patients. But this focus and progress must not be lost in the disruption of a General Election and potential new Government.

Over the past week, ukactive has been working hard to support members to prepare for what the next five weeks will entail. Our General Election Toolkit for members is live on our website and contains useful information, talking points and a template for members to use when engaging with their local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs). Centrally, ukactive has been and will continue to engage with the central teams of the major Parties, the teams surrounding the Party Leaders, the media and other industry bodies to navigate the campaign and continue to demonstrate the importance of physical activity to any future Government’s plans.

Finally, we will continue to monitor announcements and commitments from all sides of the debate and provide analysis of any manifestoes or policy papers that might impact the sector. This will include Labour’s “Plan to Make Work Pay”, which was published with minimal media attention late last week but will include important policies affecting all businesses and employees.

The starting gun has been fired, the race between Parties has begun, and though six weeks may seem like a sprint, a week is a long time in politics. There is a still a long way to go in this campaign and ukactive will continue to keep members up to date at every twist.

To learn more, read our General Election statement here and download our policy paper. For more information or support, email: