Dr Boys is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London and a Transatlantic Research Fellow at the Bow Group. The report on which this article is based, Intelligence Design, can be accesed HERE.
Protecting its citizens at times of crisis should be a top priority for any government. In order to protect citizens effectively, decision-making structures in the executive must be both efficient and robust. However, as the twenty-first century continues to evolve in ways few could have forecast, many Western powers appear to be struggling to adequately project their military power as they face a host of global challenges, not least of which is a restrictive economic environment that has curtailed defence expenditure and costly overseas initiatives.
In an effort to address contemporary challenges the Coalition Government has initiated a series of changes to the UK national security architecture. In May 2010 it configured a National Security Council, and a year later President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron announced the establishment of a Joint Strategy Board to formalise the longstanding security and intelligence links between the United Kingdom and the United States. The Government has also published a National Security Strategy (NSS) in an effort to ensure that policies and procedures are adequate for today’s security, military and intelligence-led requirements.
Of all the responsibilities of Her Majesty’s Government, none are more pressing or more challenging than those surrounding national security. With the accompanying challenges of political violence, debates surrounding the role of the state and the rights of citizens, budgetary decisions and the difficulties of long-term planning in a short-term political environment, the decisions that are made in this sphere go to the very core of a government’s responsibility to protect the nation and its citizens.
Benjamin Harris-Quinney is the Chairman of the The Bow Group
The Bow Group produced its first research paper in 1952, entitled “Coloured People in Britain”. It served as a study into the British Afro-Caribbean community, and the issues and barriers that were faced by these citizens, to integrate and succeed in British society.
Sixty years later, whilst much has changed, the Bow Group’s latest research paper “Race to the Top – The experience of black students in higher education”, sets forth broadly the same aims. This alone demonstrates a disappointing failure in strategy at national, local and party level, in ensuring citizens from all backgrounds have equality of opportunity in our country.
A recent survey commissioned by the Runnymede Trust demonstrated that people from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds are least likely to vote Conservative, and our studies show a similar disengagement with government as a whole.
Sometimes governments get so bogged down in the minutiae of policy making that they lose sight of what they set out to achieve. With a portfolio of domestic crises, and international conflicts raging, the risk of the Prime Minister becoming a firefighter rather than a visionary is omnipresent.
Just occasionally, however, an opportunity comes along that can be a vehicle for real reform: reform that is proactive rather than reactive. An example of such an opportunity stems from the recent debate over directors’ pay at RBS. In the Stephen Hester debacle, comment was generally about how much say the public should have over its own capital, RBS being owned largely by the state.
Richard Mabey is Research Secretary of the Bow Group, which today publishes its latest Target Paper, ‘Winning the consensus on High Speed Rail – Why all parties should now support the best route for HS2’ (pdf). In January 2010 the Bow Group published The Right Track – Delivering the Conservatives’ Vision for High Speed Rail (pdf) supporting directly routing HS2 to Heathrow and then following the M40 to Birmingham, following the best practice learnt from the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (now HS1) in the early 1990s.
Anyone who has ever disembarked from a plane at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to catch a high speed train has enjoyed a short and swift transfer. This major airport, like so many others on the Continent, has joined aviation and high speed rail to allow direct and unhindered transfer from air to rail and vice versa. Other major continental airports like Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt have built high speed railway stations at airports in order to provide the best transport and passenger experience and boost the business case for high speed rail. So why is the Government not proposing this model for Britain’s latest, and arguably most important section of high speed rail?
Justine Greening’s decision to delay her announcement on HS2 was as important as it was opportune. To get this project wrong would be nothing short of a national disaster given the sums of money involved, the implications for a more balanced UK economy, environmental impact, and HS2’s ultimate viability.
Tom Kelley is an academic foundation doctor and a member of the Bow Group Health & Education Policy Committee. Stuart Carroll is a senior health economist and Chairman of the Bow Group Health & Education Policy Committee. Gary Jones is a public affairs consultant and Editor of Crossbow. Here they summarise the research paper they have written for the Bow Group focusing on the issue of obesity and public health, which is published today and can be downloaded here from the Bow Group website.
Tackling obesity must be at the centre of the Coalition’s public health plans. In the recently published public health White Paper ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’, the Government committed itself to publishing a separate follow up policy document specifically looking at the issue of obesity. Our report highlights some of the key things that need to be done and should be included in this document.
In 2004, 67% of men and 69% of women were classified as overweight or obese. Current predictions forecast that a staggering 60% of the UK population will be clinically obese by 2050. Although holistic definitions that transcend the technical confines of the Body Mass Index (BMI) and properly account for individual medical history are important, there is little doubt that obesity has reached increasingly epidemic proportions. There is also little doubting the need to stop and reverse this trend.
Multiple reports and strategies have been published, but the fact remains that obesity rates continue to rise. Restrictions on advertising, increasing physical activity and healthy eating in schools, the 5-a-Day Campaign, and the Change4Life Campaign are some of the initiatives introduced and promoted by the previous Labour administration. Despite this, the obesity problem has not gone away – it has got worse and become more ingrained – and so clearly a new strategy and policy direction is needed.
Richard Mabey is the author of Death of the Conviction Voter - Fairness and Tactics under AV, which is published today by the Bow Group.
It is no closely guarded secret that most proponents of electoral reform wanted to see some form of proportional representation (PR) on the table in the upcoming referendum. The argument they make is that forms of PR are the ‘fairest’ voting systems available. Reluctant to make the same argument for AV, advocates of reform have advanced the curious proposition that AV is not the ‘fairest’ system, but simply that it is ‘fairer’ than the current First Past the Post system.
But is the type of AV on the table in the referendum really ‘fairer’? My paper, Death of the Conviction Voter - Fairness and Tactics under AV, published today by the Bow Group, tackles these questions by looking at the only places in the world that use the system. We have on the table a surprisingly rare form of AV, which is only used at a local level in the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales. Whereas the flaws of AV in general have been well documented, the additional challenges posed by this particular form of AV to the ‘fairness’ argument have not yet fully come to the fore.
The referendum ballot paper will ask us whether we want to change our national voting system to “the Alternative Vote”. It gives no guidance as to which type of AV we would get. The version of AV proposed for the referendum is better described as Optional Preference Voting (OPV), the salient feature of which is the ability of a voter to mark on the ballot paper as many or as few candidates as he or she wishes. It has been remarked that this form of AV produces an inequality where some voters get one vote and some get three. But what effect does it have on results?
Stuart Carroll and Gary Jones summarise the Bow Group’s response to the Government’s recent public health white paper, ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’, which is published today and available to download here as a pdf. Stuart Carroll is a Senior Health Economist and the Chairman of the Bow Group Health & Education Policy Committee. Gary Jones is a member of the Bow Group Health & Education Committee and a Public Affairs Consultant.
Just a couple of days before the Government closes its public consultation, we have published our analysis on the Government’s public health White Paper, ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our Strategy for Public Health in England’. In a nutshell, we believe the Government’s intent is correct. However, as with many of the other reforms currently sweeping across the NHS there is a clear and pressing need for more detail on how the ideas and concepts promoted in the White Paper will be implemented in practice. This must be the key output from the Department of Health’s (DH) consultation.
Our report analyses a number of different aspects of the White Paper. A few key points include:
1) We support the motives and rationale behind the creation of Public Health England, which if properly implemented will help support people in maintaining their health, mainly at a community level through local councils, whilst keeping a firm national grip on national public health issues such as flu pandemics at a national level. However, in future it will be essential that Public Health England is funded adequately to undertake its important role. This cannot be a one-shot measure or an easy target for spending cuts when the going gets tough. We urge the Government to set out at the earliest opportunity how the funding structure for public health will precisely work and how this will be sustained over time.
Tracey Bleakley, Stuart Carroll and Ross Carroll summarise below the Bow Group paper published today, Putting the Health Back in Education. Tracey Bleakley is a Member of the Bow Group Health Policy Committee and is the Operations and Delivery Director for MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do it!). Stuart Carroll is a Senior Health Economist and the Chairman of the Bow Group Health & Education Policy Committee. Ross Carroll is a member of the Bow Group Health & Education Committee and a Public Policy Manager.
If the Coalition is to achieve its ambitious programme for Government – including keeping a tight lid on public spending in an effort to reduce the yawning budget deficit – it is going to have to find novel ways of extracting as much value as possible from public spending. Health education is undoubtedly one area in which the potential gains from a more focused approach could be enormous.
With an emphasis on preventative action and raising the overall health of the nation, health education can play a seminal role in introducing children to a healthy, equitable, and inclusive psychological and physical environment, delivering benefits that cross-cut Government departments and wider societal imperatives.
In our report published today, we call for health education to take its rightful place at the centre of health and education policy. This is important not just in terms of enhancing the quality of life of millions of people and improving individual health outcomes. Society as a whole would gain by having a healthier, and therefore more productive, workforce.
Indeed, health education offers its own unique value proposition to the wider economy, and could also have the added benefit of reducing the long-term burden on the NHS and ensuring our healthcare system is genuinely geared towards public health. As Charlotte Leslie MP comments in the foreword to our paper:
“Public health is about ensuring everyone, regardless of background, have the information they need to make informed personal choices – that is, they are informed about the results of actions”.
This can only be achieved through better health education.
Ben Harris-Quinney and Brian Cattell were elected Political Officer and Chairman respectively of the Bow Group this week. They are co-authors of the new paper published by the Bow Group and FAES, Latin America: an opportunity for the UK.
The Coalition Government has rightly identified export-led growth as one of the key planks of its plan to reinvigorate theUK economy in the wake of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
As Germany’s experience demonstrates, the export-led model can be an effective way to stimulate the development of small and medium sized private sector businesses, some of which may go on to become the international British “Champions” of the future. It may sound obvious, but for our economic recovery to be sustainable, we simply have to build more companies that produce goods and services the rest of the world wants to buy.
But where are all these companies going to sell their wares?
It is here that Britain’s foreign policy must work hand in glove with the needs of our economy. The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has grasped this: he has stated that economic power and economic opportunity have shifted to the countries of the East and South, and that we live in a “networked world” where strong relations with the emerging economic powers of these regions are more critical than ever before.
Yet beyond acknowledgement of the new global economy, there is little in terms of a comprehensive strategy to crack new markets. In terms of the breadth of our reach, we are starting from a very low base. The UK currently exports more to Ireland than it does to the entire continent of Latin America.
Ross Carroll is a member of the Bow Group Health Policy Committee and a public policy manager. Mike Hewitson is a member of the Bow Group Health Policy Committee and a qualified pharmacist and community pharmacist contractor. Stuart Carroll is a senior health economist and chairman of the Bow Group Health Committee. Here they summarise the research paper they have written for the Bow Group looking at the role of enhanced pharmacy services in the “new NHS”, which is published today and can be downloaded from the Bow Group website.
Despite the Coalition Government’s pledge to ring-fence the healthcare budget, the NHS is facing sustained financial retrenchment and increased user demand. Against the backdrop of the UK’s parlous public finances, it is vital all aspects of healthcare are examined to assess where increased value and quality can be delivered with greater cost-effectiveness. This is especially critical since Andrew Lansley has rightfully placed patient health outcomes at the heart of Government reforms; a pressing imperative given rising public health challenges and an aging population predisposed to long-term conditions (LTCs).
The conclusions drawn from our research paper show that Enhanced Pharmacy Services, which include smoking cessation, sexual health and weight loss programmes, are an under-utilised resource that can deliver innovative, cost-effective services to patients in a highly accessible manner. Moreover, such services can help the NHS achieve its Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) objectives.
For example, it is estimated annually that 57 million GP consultations concern minor ailments, which in large could be dealt with at a pharmacy. The average cost of a pharmacy consultation (£17.75) versus an average GP consultation (£32) is £14.25 less expensive. If all patients with minor ailments received pharmacy consultations, then over £812 million could potentially be saved from the NHS budget equating to over 4% of the Government’s pledged £20 billion efficiency savings target.