The Labour Party and the Conservatives are both campaigning on insurance issues, says Andy Cook

' Will it be May of April? Whatever the date for the next general election, policticians want you.

Last year saw the Labour Party become increasingly interested in compensation culture issues. Stephen Byers, who is working closely with Alan Milburn on the

manifesto, made several speeches talking about tackling compensation culture, or at least the perception of it. And last November at the Insurance Times Future of Personal Injury Claims conference Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, launched a government initiative to control the claims management business and increase the effectiveness of the legal framework around personal injury claims.

Now it is time for the Conservative Party to show its hand. This week, in an exclusive Insurance Times interview, Oliver Letwin - the shadow Chancellor - explains some of the thinking that his party has been doing about our industry (see page 9).

In summary, the Conservatives agree that if a compensation culture doesn't exist then there certainly has been a change in the way people think about making claims. And the Conservatives will do something about it. They want to penalise those who bring spurious claims. We await the launch in a few weeks' time of a booklet containing a coherent policy on compensation culture.

What about regulation? Well, it all sounds good. The Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) is too intrusive and there are too many regulatory bodies. Again in a few weeks, shadow minister for economic affairs Richard Spring (who will open the Insurance Times Making Money from SMEs conference on 10 March) will be announcing the Tories' ideas on reform of the FSMA.

What's more, Letwin and Spring are working on ways of cutting tax and regulation that should boost the SME market. Currently the SME market produces 7% more new businesses each year, but the attrition rate is also 7%. The Tories are looking at cutting the attrition rate and boosting the start-up rate. So this could be good news for brokers.

We will all know a lot more in six weeks' time when both of these policies have been launched, but it is encouraging for our industry that both of the main political parties are listening to our industry and taking in some of the issues dear to our hearts.