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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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In an increasingly volatile world, Britain must put security and resilience front and centre

(Alexey Panferov / Alamy Stock Photo)

3 min read

Over the past two decades, our security challenges have been defined by the need to protect our people from terrorist groups that increasingly behaved like states. But between now and 2050 our entire state apparatus needs to reconfigure and focus on our most critical priority: protecting our people from states that behave like terrorists.

Building up our whole of nation resilience is long overdue, but the threat of malign state activity has already become strikingly apparent. Vladimir Putin’s weaponisation of natural gas deliveries to Europe has rocked global energy markets, driving up costs here in Britain.  

Sadly, it is only likely that we will face more of this type of hybrid threat in the years to come. The constant evolution of technology and democratisation of information has changed the nature of geopolitics beyond recognition, and we now face a plethora of new and disorientating threats. 

I would put resilience at the centre of my manifesto. From securing energy and food sources, and strengthening our many alliances, to improving our domestic capability to counter threats.  

A manifesto that puts resilience at its core would legislate to ensure hostile states are monitored and prevented from influencing our society, infrastructure, and state at all levels. I have done this in Parliament, by recently tabling an amendment to give the government powers to shut down Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institutes should they be found to be undermining academic freedom and free speech. My proposed powers were accepted, and I am working with our allies in Taiwan who I hope will provide alternative Mandarin language teachers free from the corrosive influence of the CCP.  

This has been a positive step, but we need a comprehensive approach across government to drive this forward. We need to ensure our CCTV cameras are not transmitting personal data back to the Chinese Communist Party by tightening procurement laws, and bring forward the additional Economic Crime Bill to prevent malign states from bypassing our sanctions and laundering their money in the United Kingdom.  

We now face a plethora of new and disorientating threats

Resilience is also more than changes to the law. My manifesto would see us invest in education into the nature of hybrid threats and allocate greater resources to local and devolved government to tackle specific challenges across the UK. An important part of this process is also promoting and celebrating the things that hold the fabric of our society together and keep the UK free and prosperous.    

The decisions, defences and resilience we implement now are what will keep us safe in years to come. We need to make ourselves, our alliances, and the international order more resilient and take a stand to defend that which keeps us safe and the institutions that deliver justice. Conservativism is rooted in maintaining the security and prosperity of our nation, alongside the adaptability that will enable us to prepare for the threats of tomorrow.

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