Posted: 11 May, 2021
A landslide election, Brexit acrimony, a worldwide pandemic, PPE bust ups, global lockdowns, vaccination anarchy. "What's Next?"
On 5th May, our great friend and TMA UK supporter Lord Maurice Glasman delivered his 11th TMA UK lecture in which he shared some of his predictions for what’s coming and how the political and economic landscape of the UK is changing. As a life peer, one of the main proponents of the Living Wage, and a founder of The Common Good Foundation, we highly regard Lord Glasman’s views and hope you enjoyed the session. Thank you to Adrian Doble for moderating the webinar and to FRP Advisory and Geoff Rowley for their continued support of the TMA and this lecture.
If you missed the webinar, or would like to watch it again, you can do so here. Otherwise, here is a summary of Lord Glasman’s thoughts and predictions.
Change is happening
Maurice began his lecture by saying that big changes in the consensus don’t happen often, but that a change is happening now, and a new era is upon us. The previous era was that of globalisation, of technology eliminating borders and of corporations becoming more powerful than nation states. But since 2016 and Brexit, the role of the nation state has been growing, along with its role in the economy. In the political world, the working-class heartlands are playing a bigger role in framing the political agenda. Covid-19 has demonstrated the dangers of our overreliance on goods from abroad and so domestic industrial strategy is now high on the agenda. House building is becoming an important part of the government’s strategy and an emphasis on vocational training and bridging skills gaps is emerging.
Covid-19 and a new era of partnerships
Maurice said that the vaccine, and how Britain approached it, is a good indicator of what’s likely to happen next. The push to develop a vaccine was the first significant industrial and strategic partnership since the 1960s with big pharma, the NHS, tech companies, the Government and Universities working in partnership to do what was widely considered impossible. The state’s priority was on speed and safety, investing money into the vaccine’s development. Maurice quoted President Macron who allegedly had said the idea that a vaccine could be developed within a year was an ‘Anglo-Saxon fantasy.’ Whilst the UK approach was pragmatic the EU had approached the vaccine more as an administrative matter, negotiating down prices and leaving Pharma to it. But the UK’s approach, Maurice said, shows us to be entering into a new era of partnership.
In the global context, Covid-19 has exposed just how dependent the world is on China and the PPE crisis was a painful way of showing us that we must disentangle from it. Going forward, Maurice thinks there will be a greater stress on national self-sufficiency and that this will be a crucial feature of foreign policy over the next decade. He also predicts there will be greater importance given to developing and producing medicines in the UK.
House building has moved to the peak of the Government’s agenda. Maurice predicts that vocational training and social partnerships will begin to hold more importance and that previously neglected areas of the country will be given better access to development capital. In the US, the Biden presidency is playing a much more active role in relation to the economy and Maurice thinks this will be the case here and elsewhere going forward.
Taking questions at the end of the webinar, Maurice also shared his thoughts on whether the gig economy has reached its limits, how banks will manage the rise of crypto currencies and what the government could do to manage business debt arising from Covid-19 loans.
We thank Maurice for giving us his time and for sharing his thoughts and predictions. Next year we hope to return to our usual Glasman Lecture venue at the House of Lords and look forward to welcoming you all there.
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