Building a better future
How do we reach net zero?
Climate change is the existential challenge of our time. But tackling it need not be a story of costs and sacrifices alone. It is also an opportunity. Powered by a clean, secure and ultimately cheaper energy system, net-zero can deliver a stronger, more resilient economy and a better way of life.
Getting there demands urgency in policy, but pragmatism in politics. Direction and certainty that allows the market to drive change must be balanced with respect for freedom of choice. And action must be aspirational, avoiding the moralising that threatens to undermine broad but fragile public support for action. This is the future of Britain – a clean, modern, prosperous land, built on green energy and jobs. It’s a vision we can make a reality, but the time for action is now.
Where will new growth come from?
Britain’s engine of economic prosperity has been stalled for over a decade, with weak growth and stagnant wages compounded by a vicious squeeze on living standards. We now face a choice between keeping Britain in the premier league of world economies or facing relegation. The former requires more than short-term, superficial initiatives that come and go, acting as cover for economic fatalism. We need an economy of the future, built with a long-term plan to restructure key sectors, equip our people, and reap the benefits of new technologies that will put us back on a path to prosperity.
An effective and enabling state is characterised not by its size but by its ability to transform a vision into reality – this must be at the forefront of what we do next.
How do we shape the services of the future?
Public services can be made more innovative, personalised and accountable if we adopt a clear model for their reform. The pandemic showed us that innovation can be implemented rapidly when frontline staff are given more freedom to operate. Yet policymaking around public services has been ad hoc and over centralised ever since the intense pressure of funding cuts began in the 2010s. A new model for public-service reform is needed to harness the opportunities created by technological innovation.
Moving from adequate to great public services will require not only investment but also a radical shift in the role of citizens, from passive consumers to active participants in the services they rely upon.
How can technology drive progress?
Britain has historically been a leading scientific and technological force. We decoded DNA, discovered graphene and set nuclear-fusion records. Yet confronted with the increasing pace of technological change, we face an urgent question – innovate or stagnate?
To thrive in the 21st century, Britain must create the ecosystems for innovation that can dramatically improve people’s lives, stimulating a new era of growth and progress. It is time we reimagine the role of the state to harness tech-enabled progress, reignite the pioneering spirit central to our culture and rev up in the industries that will power the future – life sciences and biotech, clean technology and artificial intelligence.
How do we build thriving communities?
The foundations of strong community – a secure home, meaningful relationships and a lived environment that is safe – have been weakened by a mixture of global forces and misguided policy. This in turn has contributed to a breakdown of responsibility. Too many people no longer feel responsible for themselves and for one another. There is too little respect, and too much division.
While this weakening of the social fabric cannot be solved overnight, neither is it inevitable. What is required are policies that are clear-eyed about the nature of the problems we face, as well as the opportunities presented by the technological revolution. From tackling crime and anti-social behaviour to devolving fiscal and policy autonomy to local governments, we can, and must, reverse the trends seen in too many communities across the country.
Britain in the World
What is Britain’s place in a changing world?
The invasion of Ukraine has changed the nature of our foreign and defence policy priorities, giving a whole new impetus to the need for strong Western and transatlantic cooperation and partnerships. Rather than risk being buffeted by geopolitical winds, progressives have a unique opportunity to shape a plan confronting the challenges of our time and charting a new course for Britain.
Rebuilding the country’s soft-power network and strengthening our relationships – in NATO, Europe and beyond – should be central to this. We must also be clear about the challenges ahead, from the rise of China to the climate emergency.
Britain can take on a leading role in a changing world, which we set out in this presentation from the Future of Britain Conference 2022. But we urgently need a plan.