Sharing British Experiences of Innovation, Institution-Building and Reform in support of Open Economies, an Open Internet and a Rules-Based International System
- A new means for the British Government to bring British innovation in services and technology and our experience of institution-building and reform to relationships with fast-growing emerging economies and target regions in the post-Brexit political economy
- A means to leverage British experience to strengthen bilateral relationships with emerging economies in support of an open global economy and an open internet.
- The mobilisation of a positive but self-critical reading of British history under-pinned by a reflective patriotism showing knowledge learned from mistakes and the ongoing need to reform institutions.
- Advocating the rule of law as the basis for international trade and relations, an open internet, good governance and the value of organisational learning.
- Focussed, problem and solution based presentations of UK business rather than generic open pitching.
- A team of experts presenting the underlying narrative of British capability in the specific area or problem the target country is facing and leading with SMEs presenting British innovations.
- Senior Sabbaticals for key decision makers from States facing intractable problems to explore British solutions, as the means of capacity building.
- A team from the private sector, legal sector, third sector and academia working together with government departments and embassies in a long term engagement addressing key challenges and presenting British capabilities as the means of meeting those challenges.
- A means to combine soft power with the promotion of UK goods, services, training and capacity building in a way that transfers risk for the delivery of programmes to a dependable third party
Everyone agrees that the UK is different. But it can be a struggle to say precisely why. Dynamic Britain provides the underlying narrative that answers this question.
Learning is the key to our national character, which explains in part why teaching is one of our greatest strengths. To be able to learn you must be able to admit your mistakes, embrace your failings and set out to transcend them. What makes the UK different is that we respond dynamically and, over time, democratically to challenges.
The British genius is the marriage of rapid, far reaching and deep social and economic change through consent to a rule bound system based on trust in institutions.
This is what makes the UK different.
Dynamic Britain is the narrative by which we can say what makes us different in support of exports. It is the means by which we can export the values of our great institutions that exemplify our ability to change and adapt successfully.
The British culture of self-criticism has been shaped by struggle, failure and, frequently, triumph. These triumphs comprise both the subjugation of others through war and Empire and the quiet victories of decency with which our history is punctuated. It is a culture that is at once a soft, pastoral culture of poetry, painting and the pleasures of peace and a hard, militarist, at times racist, industrial culture. There has been within it, dating back even before the Abolition of Slavery, a strain of liberalism at its heart that provides the link between the ivy clad vicarage and the Wellington bomber. Ours is a militant liberalism – in David Edgerton’s powerful phrase.
The central strength of this culture is best expressed as dynamism.
In the face of a challenge, Britain embraces change across more diverse fields, more quickly and yet more concretely rooted in consent than virtually any other culture on earth.
Of course there have been victims of this dynamism and the consent was usually confined to those with a vote in the UK. But decade on decade the liberal, consent based elements of this country’s militancy have grown.
The purpose of this project is to design and deliver a mechanism by which we can communicate our ability to learn from our mistakes as a means of explaining what this country has been, what we are now and defining in the minds of others what we will be in the post-Brexit future. This project sets out to provide the context for British companies of all kinds to explain why they are the best and proposes using this explanation in the presentation of UK goods and services through a re-invented trade mission.
Building this soft power advocacy of British values expressed through its history into the presentation of our exports abroad would replace the Great Britain campaign with a branding exercise that was a show case for the full spectrum of British capability in a contemporary and sophisticated package. It is a package for products but also a vehicle for showcasing consultancy services from legal through governance/capacity building to leadership and change management offerings. The thread that runs through the narrative is that the manifest destiny of the United Kingdom is to learn from its mistakes. And then make new ones. But to always be able to try new solutions.
Winston Churchill once said that Britain must sit at the centre of three interconnected circles, Europe, Commonwealth and the United States. That was in a world in which power politics defined the success or failure of nation states. In the multi-polar world which is dominated by interconnectedness, it is not circles of power in which Britain sits but circles of challenge. After Brexit these circles of challenge will be even greater but our ability to use our dyanmism to meet these challenges much stronger. These same challenges face many other countries around the world. They broadly breakdown as follows:
- Parliament and the Rule of Law – how we make law, govern and dispense justice.
- Geopolitics and Cosmopolitanism- defining a place in the world and managing the world in our culture.
- The Economy – the way we generate wealth.
- The Technology Challenge – our relationship with technology and how we use it.
Parliament and the Law: The way we make law, govern and dispense justice
Parliament and the legal profession are the institutions which help the British find their way back to a path that feels like righteousness when things go wrong. When Lloyd George was selling honours after the First World War, when MPs were found to have fiddled their expenses to such an extent that half the House of Commons was changed in the 2010 election, when the police failed to investigate the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, when the Falkland Islands had to be retaken by force, when the Coalition invaded Iraq on contested evidence, it was Parliament and the Judiciary that led the response, review and analysis of what had gone wrong. The Public Enquiry, the select committee system, the power of a Judge investigating independently, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, a Royal Commission, a written or an oral question, combine to form an armoury in the search of truth and judgement – even occasionally punishment. The process can be painfully slow but once set in motion it is impossible to stop. There have been no cases of corrupt Judges in the UK for over 200 years but when miscarriages of justice have been found they are investigated and often, though not always, put right. Most recently, The Bribery Act has extended those standards of probity to the way UK companies do business abroad.
The work of Parliament and the Judiciary has not been static over this period. For many the power of the executive over the legislature became too strong in the 1980s and 1990s. There was something within the executive system that seemed to recognise this. A check and balance that resulted in a profound set of constitutional reforms – devolution for Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland, the creation of a supreme court, and other changes. An unwritten constitution has the ability to respond relatively quickly to the need to change and adapt. It is this flexibility that means that the culture wars, so in evidence in the courts of the USA, have not come to dominate the UK in same way. Gradual liberalisation of the law on sexuality has culminated in Gay Marriage. We move inch by inch towards equality through the institutions of law supported by the independent judiciary.
This circle of challenge highlights the legal services industry but also the expertise of parliament and its officers, organisations like the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and Slynn Foundation, and third sector campaigning organisations that hold the executive to account.
Geopolitics and Cosmopolitanism: Defining a place in the world and managing the world in our culture
The dynamism of Britain’s journey over the last 200 years is breath-taking. We have moved from the largest geographical Empire the world has ever known, to a middle ranking European power with a global reach and now we embark of life after Brexit. Yet again we must redefine out place in the world and re-introduce ourselves to the planet. Our reach has been defined by the continued use of both soft and hard power. The hard power has been in defence of self-determination in places like the Falklands and in some misguided but well-intentioned foreign interventions like Iraq. Underpinning the exercise of power has been the shift from dominance to influence. The commitment to development spending in recent decades is the latest manifestation of an inherent internationalism which runs as a powerful strain through British culture except when it comes to language. We assume that everyone should or really can speak English. In the age of the internet that assumption has an ever increasing foundation.
Britain’s place in the world also directly effects Britain’s community life at home. The last 200 years has witnessed an amazing set of reinventions, adaptations and innovations. All these moves were conducted in line with national interests. Over time narrow national interest has been extended. Because so many communities are represented in these Isles, Britain has taken on the role of one of the world’s police and development forces. This current and historical global connection through geography, Empire and the English language mean that we cannot help but be a cosmopolitan country. Our Commonwealth defines us as such. Overseas legacies have remade our culture. The Westminster state has learned to give power in order to retain control. The white Anglo-Saxons have merged, welcomed, fought with and finally become accustomed to living alongside a rainbow of cosmopolitanism in cities and towns in which up to 100 different languages are spoken in a single Borough.
Taken together this circle of challenge produces British expertise in development, in risk analysis, security and strategy, in language, in equality, in managing cultural diversity, in anti-discrimination, in managing extremism and in institutional design.
The Economy: The way we generate wealth
The difference between the idea of dynamic Britain and the Whig Interpretation of History is that the dynamism of our system and our national story grew out of our ability to be spectacularly wrong about significant developments and then try to put it right. We built slavery into a global system and it paid for many of our great ports and great houses. When we decided it was wrong we abolished it. As manufacturing in turn declined, we shifted into services and liquidated our global reserves and assets to contribute to victory in Two World Wars before rebuilding London into the financial services centre of the world. In turn as services have declined and other financial centres have grown in importance so we have developed the largest electronic gaming industry on the planet and the most powerful creative hub in Europe, if not the world. We are home to a film and television industry, music industry and global sports franchises that are second to none, summed up by Harry Potter.
Moving in and out within decades from a warfare state to a welfare state and back to a warfare state. Moving from a free market to one with universal welfare and free health service. Moving from a mixed economy with a large public sector to a deregulated free market in which self-employment is the fastest growing sector. The British economy over the last two hundred years has not been operating like the Whigs intended with ever greater progress. But feel the dynamism of the journey. We hit rock bottom before making the change. We had to have a 1929 to be ready by 1939 to face Hitler and in 1940 defend these Islands and the World. Without the Winter of Discontent we might not have the creative economy we have today. Many would say that millions of jobs in call centres are not real jobs and that the social fabric of this country has been torn asunder. That the Premier League is not the same thing as a ship building industry. But no one can say that Britain did not change, adapt, reform, modernise and renew.
This circle of challenge illustrates British banking and financial services expertise but also creative industries and gaming, manufacturing innovaors, start-ups, self-employment, welfare design and reform, and strategies for economic diversification and renewal.
Technology: Our relationship with technology and how we use it
The thing that underpins our ability to reinvent our economy, fight our wars, build and lose an empire is our relationship with technology, science and engineering. It is a strange story. We begin with a culture in which technology and greatness are fused as one. We have a middle period in which C. P. Snow talks of two cultures – the sciences and the arts. Yet the Battle of Britain was won as much by brain power from engines to code breaking as it was blood, sweat and tears. We are now in a culture in which technology is the dominant art form and, on the way, we invented the internet.
It has always been the combination of inventiveness and technology that marked the UK out. That inventiveness could go too far. In the great housing schemes of the 1950s and 1960s the people were often forgotten. But, Dynamic Britain now puts them at the heart of the planning process. Our ability to exploit economically the brilliance of our university research has not always been there. But we have now developed, led in part by creative industries, a plethora of means of releasing knowledge for economic use and we measure the research in our universities in large part by the impact it will have on society.
We have also always been rather good at making weapons of war. Airplanes for Imperial control, nuclear weapons to maintain a sense of greatness. But at the same time Britain has been a leader in medical breakthroughs, in vaccinations, in transplants, fertility and stem cell research – leaps forward that change human experience. Today, we sit at the front of the Cyber Security industry as we grapple with the future of the internet. We lead the world in advocating open communication while also protecting privacy. Our information society has a knowledge economy and a creative industry that is second to none. In almost all the technologies of the future, as we were with jet engines, plastics and high speed trains – we at the forefront of the future.
This circle of challenge illustrates the role of science, technology and engineering companies in the reinvention of the UK over time, with these fields the world leaders in cyber security, software development, architecture and planning, and the innovators in the universities all exemplify Dynamic Britain.
Proposals: Taking this message to the world
The target countries for the Dynamic Britain programme should be those that are facing challenges reflected in the circles of challenge outlined above:
- Countries struggling to harness knowledge for economic growth
- Energy based economies coping with the falling oil prices
- Conflict affected states dealing with internal succession problems
- Countries with young populations suffering unemployment
- Countries suffering corruption and problems of governance who need capacity building and so on.
- Countries dealing with internal problems of extremism and racial tension.
- Geographical regions that are important for our post-Brexit trade – the Commonwealth and the Gulf
A pilot programme in, for example the Gulf or a part of the Commonwealth, would prove the concept and design, it would feature:
- A fully-costed, ring-fenced proposal, to include private sector participation to develop the brand and design elements of the engagement
- A team to deliver the programme, with risk transfer for design and implementation to the project leader
- Post-implementation review that identifies new learning and opportunity
Dynamic Britain Roadshow:
- Focussed, problem and solution based presentations (rather than generic open pitching).
- A team of experts present as part of a trade mission, a Prime Ministerial or Ministerial visit or as part of a GREAT Week programme the underlying narrative to the British expertise in the specific area or problem the target country is facing.
- The companies on the visit each have a product or service that relates to elements of the specific problem so the overall presentation is focussed, problem and solution based and designed to enable knowledge transfer.
- This focus provides for a better, more Ted ex style presentation of the context of UK companies and service providers.
- Encouragement of mutual exchange so that companies are not so much selling as helping to provide solutions.
- The overall feel of the event would be of knowledge transfer rather than hard sell.
Seminars on Key Solutions
- Follow-up Seminars for practitioners focused on the particular policy or operational problem identified, for example in the area of cyber security, countering extremism, regulation, bringing together subject-matter experts from government, business, academia and the non-government sector
- Tailored visits to key UK institutions focused on deepening the exchange of expertise and knowledge
Senior Sabbaticals for individuals/ Fellowships for Groups or Teams
- Designed for key players in politics or business who need to take time out from their daily routines to engage in detailed, creative and applied thinking.
- Strategic or security problem stemming from the recent unrest.
- The business or the country cannot spare the individual for six months or a year.
- This would not be a standard course in which the learning outcomes are set by others.
- This is a time in which the recipient asks the questions and a staff of dedicated professionals helps them find the answer.
- The sabbatical can be as structured or as unstructured as required, as short as a week or as long as three months.
- Each recipient has a personal tutor and a personal assistant.
- The personal assistant will look after everything else.
- The Dynamic Britain team will design and plan a series of workshops through which to explore British solutions the challenge.
- They will arrange meetings with any expert in the UK that the recipient wants to meet.
- They will also help to structure and present solutions developed during the sabbatical in the most effective ways.