The Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit has shown us the limitations and challenges of a Westminster-style government (once so revered across the world). As we re-imagine our lives in a post-Covid, post-Brexit world we shouldn’t stop at the economy or society. A social impact lens suggests that we should also re-consider government: what its for and how it functions.
We elect a government to provide us with the kind of society that we want to live in. A socially impactful, post-Covid, post-Brexit, built-back-better government should:
- Uphold the social contract;
- Protect and promote the environment;
- Deliver infrastructure services for the whole country equally and equitably;
- Provide the best (cutting edge, innovative) education for all children and young people up to age 18;
- Provide the best (cutting edge, innovative) health care for all citizens “from cradle to grave”;
- Enable business to flourish in an innovative and dynamic environment that also holds business to account for its responsibilities within the social contract and towards the environment;
- Provide an enabling environment for culture to grow and thrive and innovate;
- Encourage citizen involvement in local and national government to emphasise both supremacy of the people and our individual and collective responsibility under the social contract;
- Respect individual and collective privacy in return for individual and collective responsibility, under the social contract;
- Curate and conserve the country’s natural and human heritage in order to point the way to a future that learns from the past and present;
- Defend the borders and interests, values and culture of the country in a respectful and informed way; and
- Provide vision and leadership to keep the country moving forward to a brighter future
Wouldn’t it be exciting to simply put these 12 points to each government department and let them redefine their work within this framework, identifying where their work delivers against this framework and where it does not. Of course there would be much discussion around the definition of each of these phrases, but the key point here is to remove party politics and manifestos from policy development and implementation – encourage the growth of a generation of politicians focused on positive social and environmental impact rather than ideology.
Am I being too much of a dreamer? I don’t think so. Daily we are reminded of the limits of our current system. Perhaps it really is time to think outside the box!