Today’s Reform Ten essay is from Jeremy Browne: Lib Dem, Taunton MP, Somerset Cricket Club supporter (good man) and Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office responsible for:
• Far East and South East Asia
• India, Nepal
• Latin America
• Australasia and Pacific
• Emerging Powers Co-ordination
• Human Rights
• Consular Policy
• Public Diplomacy
• Drugs and International Crime.
His essay, entitled ‘Britain needs a wake-up call’, highlights what such a ministerial position requires – a wide, wide angle view of the world. A view of specific generalisations that help individuals as single nodes in the humongous worldwide system of business, economics, politics, workforces education and health understand what is going on.
There will always be friction between people who naturally look at change on an individual basis and people who naturally look at change as Jeremy has to everyday, on a big picture basis.
Take for example the withholding of expensive cancer drugs from individuals. One angle shows it to be a great injustice deigning someone a longer life, the other an injustice of spending limited money on an individual’s illness instead of many individuals illnesses or preventative measures. Extremely difficult indeed. I shall leave the rest of that point to the philosophers amongst you.
A few facts and more thoughts the essay sent my way
• Currently the British government is currently borrowing £400 million a day
• The British people are getting very close to spending £1 billion (£1,000 million) every single week on paying the interest on our debt <<< Wow!
• Schemes like ERASMUS and travel abroad will be key in the future to ensure the British workforce stays at the top of the tree through knowledge of the world’s different cultures and traditions
• Foreign languages will be very important in the future. The British’s general ambivalence towards foreign language at schools will come back to haunt us if we’re not careful
• Jeremy relabelled Western values as universal values – those of free speech, free trade and free societies. A good and clever linguistic trick perhaps?
• There is a change of mindset needed in UK society. A change to understand how globalised the world is and an acceptance that we are competing in a global workforce
• The logical conclusion of globalisation of the workforce (to me) is the commoditisation of professions. Doctors and engineers will not be able to hold onto the high regard of their profession once there are thousands of graduates from across the world with the same and better skills as British graduate, they just be another x or y. Commercial bodies will be able to salary off positions as they draw down from a global pool of highly educated talent. How can that fit with our societal views and values?
• And finally, how does the need for a better global understanding and position from Britain affect the potential devolution of Scotland and then Wales? Would these countries truly be able to compete in a global world?
Mind dump over! Please do place any comments below.