We must grab this opportunity to provide better futures now and for generations to come
Embedding long-termism at the heart of UK politics is the right thing to do. I want to help the government Build Back Better through the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill.
The past 18 months of trying to mitigate the worst impacts of the pandemic have exposed the flawed problems with our system: poverty and its intersection with the climate crisis, and how we plan or prepare (or don’t!) for existential threats which are predicted to become more prevalent.
Alas the work of prevention hasn’t even started yet. And it is here that we should spend our time and effort. I can look back over the last 30 years of The Big Issue and congratulate myself on helping over 100,000 vulnerable people. But that simply is not good enough.
What keeps me up at night is the next 30 years and which trajectory we take. My ambition is to eradicate poverty in the UK over the next 30 years, and how we respond to this pandemic could play a real part in that. The ‘Build Back Better’ which isn’t an empty slogan or sound bite, but something that will genuinely help every person, the length and breadth of the UK, to live happy, healthy and prosperous lives. That is not radical for the sixth richest nation in the world. It should be a basic requirement.
Two thirds of voters felt that this government should be doing more for the longer term
I want to help the government achieve this by offering them the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. The Bill topped the ballot in the Lords and therefore has the best chance of success this year. It’s gathering pace having already had its second reading and waiting for its Committee Stage date. It’s imperative that the government gives the Bill the time it deserves and engages with it.
Research conducted by Portland Communications in July 2020, culminating in a report Face Our Future, has shown that embedding this sort of long-termism at the heart of UK politics, isn’t just the right thing to do, but it may also help the Conservatives – or anyone for that matter – at the ballot box.
Two thirds of voters felt that this government should be doing more for the longer term, and that increased amongst swing constituencies, of which there seem to be so many at the moment, following the recent win in Chesham and Amersham, where the Lib Dems overturned a colossal Conservative majority in a seat that has always voted Conservative.
But whether you’re Lib Dem, Conservative, Labour, Green, Plaid, SNP, SDLP or Alliance Party – we have MPs from all of these parties who back the Bill. Ultimately, it is uncontroversial, a common sense approach which will actually help the government achieve some of its most ambitious policy aims, such as levelling up, Build Back Better and, of course, the net zero carbon target strategy by 2050.
And in the year when we have had the G7 and will have COP26 both hosted in the UK, it is paramount that we have robust plans in place, and that we don’t become even more less prepared than we were 5 years ago, as per the Committee on Climate Change’s new finding. This is our opportunity. We should be grabbing it with both hands, so that we are able to provide better futures right now, and for generations to come.
John Bird is a crossbench peer.
On Wednesday 30th June at 2pm, Parliamentarians are invited to join Lord John Bird for his report launch ‘Facing Our Future’. Email your MP to attend: www.todayfortomorrow.org.uk
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