'UK in a perilous position' â?? MP Watson

'UK in a perilous position' â?? MP Watson
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

November 24th 2010 at 3:50PM

But tax breaks are coming, suggests the games evangelist

Labour MP and game industry sympathiser Tom Watson has warned that the UK industry today faces an uncertain future.

"I think the UK is in a perilous position, it’s very serious circumstances," Watson told Develop at a special Tiga event at Parliament this week.

"But the message I would send to the industry, without a doubt, is don’t lose heart, “ he added. “The industry has a choice to do nothing, or make a case for itself.”

Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, said “the one thing about government policies is that nothing is permanent. At some point in the future, maybe three years from now, I think the games industry will receive tax breaks."

The Labour MP also shed light on his perspective of the Conservative's controversial post-election U-turn on tax breaks.

"In the end I didn’t expect the Conservatives to U-turn on tax breaks," revealed Watson.

"Of course, during the election, I had two conversations with Develop about the Tories going back on their promise. Obviously what was published in your story was described by Ed Vaizey as a cheap Labour trick, and by that point I thought, if he's saying that to you, he must be completely behind it. Fair enough."

Following the May election, the Coalition went back on its promise to introduce games tax breaks, claiming the measures were poorly targeted.

Recently, Exchequer secretary David Gauke openly rejected the findings of Tiga’s paper on game tax breaks.

Watson, however, had much praise for Tiga’s document.

“In the year before the election, any new targeted tax relief policy put forward to the Treasury would have had to be tested to the point of destruction.

“The policy would have to be absolutely water-tight, and Tiga’s made it through. I’ve read it and it’s the strongest I’ve ever received.”

Meanwhile, Watson said there is now a new wave of MPs rising through the party ranks that understand games more than previous political generations.

"I’ve been really impressed with the new uptake in MPs that support the games industry,” he said. “People like [MP for Liverpool Wavertree] Luciana Berger, who like many young MPs grew up with games and now has many developers to represent.”