Notes from the 6th TE&M Forum held on 16th of April 2021
What should Britain’s place in the world be in the post Brexit 21st Century?
Restoration of National Pride
We do not recognise the country that the British Media projects. The information they present is based on constant negativity.
The Conservative Party needs to demonstrate that it is comfortable with the country it leads and that it is proud of its history, its people and the potential we have for success. There is nothing wrong with projecting a confident and respectfully proud image. There should, in parallel, be a greater emphasis on personal responsibility amongst all our citizens.
The Henry Jackson Society's seeks to understand and quantify the concept of international power. It has produced a ranking of global powers (the Audit of Geopolitical Capability), which has the UK in second place, marginally ahead of China. We should build on the work of the Henry Jackson Society and craft our narrative and policy framework with its findings in mind.
As a party in government, we should be seeking to maintain, secure, and enhance Britain's position in the world by seeking to strengthen areas where we are weak and bolster where we are strong. We should set ourselves the target of widening the gap with China in each year that we are in Government, and we should challenge the opposition to commit to the same.
We need to make our people aware that we are in fact the second most powerful country in the world, closely allied with the first. Britain has every reason to be confident in its national power and moral authority, and should think and act accordingly.
- Manufacturing – We need to work with employers, employees and investors, to establish Britain as a base of production for Europe and beyond. We must embrace modern production methods and working practices. This will strengthen our ability to compete with low skilled, low wage economies around the world.
- Purchasing – We need to implement a “made at home strategy”, such that our manufacturers appreciate that if they produce good quality and competitive products then out government will stand behind them and “buy British”.
- Skills – We need to dramatically increase the availability of modern apprenticeships and to explain that these offer a real alternative to academia. It should be made clear that this is equally valued as a path into skilled employment and career development. This needs to be seen as a high value life choice.
- Education - We need to re-evaluate the drive towards sending ever increasing numbers of young people to university. This choice should be more based on the confidence that university is the right choice for the individual young person in line with their talents and aspirations. Learning through work experience and sponsored training should be seen as a real and less expensive alternative.
Science and Technology training needs to be more at the core of what we encourage young people to pursue and should put them on equal terms with other career paths.
- Communication - We need to take maximum advantage of the benefits we have from the English language, to ensure that it continues as the basis for trade, finance and diplomacy. In this regard, our Foreign and Diplomatic Service is a key component to maintaining positive relationships and channels of communication, around the world.
- Market Positioning - We need to become the place to do business by offering competitive tax rates; plus the right environment to establish and nurture new companies and new technology platforms.
A key factor will be an uncomplicated and balanced regulatory system. We should continue to work with the EU and the US to limit the monopolistic power of large companies, such as Google and Amazon. This requires a will to cooperate from all the governments concerned.
- Marketing Standards and the Environment.
We should have the environment at the heart of our marketing strategy.
We need to update our marketing standards to project our intentions with a view to limiting waste through the elimination of cheap single use imported items.
We should champion the elimination of single use plastic and educate consumers to understand the cost of plastics and packaging relative to the product value and to drive higher standards; possibly through a traffic light labelling scheme. If a consumer understands cost of single use plastic vs total product value they can decide if they want the value added and the waste they put in the BIN.
- Europe - We should continue to maintain a “no comment position” in the face of the EU performance regarding their “management” of their vaccination programme.
- The UN & NATO – Our permanent seat in these institutions is key to our continued influence on world affairs. We should be increasingly seen as a pivotal link between the USA and Europe; plus becoming a partner in the Asia Pacific Trading Groups, as they strengthen their position.
- India – We should seek to deepen our ideological and trading relations with India as a counterbalance to the growth of China, whilst appreciating that India’s relationships are becoming increasingly more complex. India’s growth as a flourishing democracy in Asia should be seen as a key factor to the stability of the region.
- China – We have allowed ourselves to become too dependent on Chinese goods. This has also supported their blossoming economic power. Out of this they have become increasingly bold in their purchasing of foreign assets and their claims on disputed territory. We need to establish a framework for purchasing less Chinese goods, particularly while they exercise unfair competition and oppressive behaviour to sections of the Chinese population.
It is noted that the draconian behaviour of the Chinese Communist Party may be due to its own insecurity at home. The Chinese also have a rapidly ageing population, which may limit their scope for increasing economic growth in the future.
- The Far East – We should support the work to incorporate the UK into the Far Eastern / ANZ Trading Groups. We should be the champion of free trade in this region and globally.
We need to maintain and where necessary enlarge our defence capability. To do so, we will need to be prepared to increase the proportion of GDP we allocate to Defence.
We need to strengthen our position in NATO, through our liaison and command role between the USA and other partners.
Climate Change & Environmental Issues
We should be the champion of environmental issues such as deforestation and single use plastics. However, we should avoid over-arching climate change strategies that will not be effective and will be hugely expensive. They will also damage the lives of the poorest.
Our Foreign Aid Budget should support the most in need but with the first priority towards supporting our friends around the world. This is particularly relevant in Africa and the Middle East.
The development of the Oxford Astra Zeneca Vaccine in the UK and the not for profit basis on which it is distributed should be more publicly proclaimed as the act of caring, great and mature Country.