|Jenkin calls for annual Statement of National Strategy from the Government|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2012 10:49|
In a new report published today (24th April), the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), chaired by Bernard Jenkin MP, calls on the Government to publish an annual 'Statement of National Strategy' in Parliament, to underpin the annual spending round and the run-up to the budget. PASC argues that a clearer expression of the nation's strategic aims is vital to ensure that decisions are made in the long term national interest. The strategic aims of the Government, informed by public opinion, should reflect the UK's national character, assets, capabilities, interests and values, and provide an indication of the objectives which policies must achieve.
Mr Jenkin said:
"There is no doubt that today's Government is presented with very severe economic and political challenges. This makes coherent National Strategy all the more vital in order that there is clear process by which policy, and the tax and spending decisions that underpin it, should be aligned with the nation's long-term interests, public values and identity. The Government presented us with six strategic aims, such as "a free and democratic society", but these are so general as to be meaningless, and we have invited the Government to formulate aims which indicate more clearly what policies its departments should pursue as a consequence.
“In the UK, too often the annual Budget appears to determine strategic priorities but this does not necessarily lead to coherent national strategy: this is the wrong way around. Tax and spending decisions should be the consequence of a more visible National Strategy, aligning spending and tax decisions with the national strategic aims of Government.
“Public opinion and strategy can work together in either a vicious or virtuous cycle; success can reinforce public values and aspirations but the wrong aims or ‘muddling through’ undermines them. National Strategy must be informed by a coherent assessment of the public's values and aspirations. This is not about abdicating policy making to opinion polls, but National Strategy must appreciate what sort of country the public aspires for the UK to be.
“The complex, diverse and unpredictable domestic and global challenges facing the UK mean that strategic thinking is both increasingly difficult to sustain, and yet it is more vital to do so. Failing to do so in the long term undermines national self-confidence and in the short term could have catastrophic consequences."
PASC recommends that the Government should publish an annual 'Statement of National Strategy' in Parliament which reflects the interests of all parts of the UK. This would be an opportunity for debate about how tax and spending decisions should support the Government’s national strategic aims. The Government's aims and policies should reflect the values and aspirations of the public as well as addressing the long term interests of the nation. The Government must also have the imagination to be prepared for what cannot be foreseen.
The report, ‘Strategic thinking in Government: without National Strategy, can viable Government strategy emerge?’, can be read in full at the following link: