The new “strategic State” and the technological revolution: the reforms proposed by Tony Blair and William Hague

A person with an umbrella passes by Parliament in London (REUTERS / Hannah McKay) (HANNAH MCKAY /)

One of the greatest events in human history began in the United Kingdom: the Industrial Revolution. But the UK has lagged behind, at least so believe two of the country’s most illustrious political figures, Tony Blair and william haguewho have put aside their political differences and come together to produce a report that argues that the UK has lagged behind in the Digital Revolutionand that you must perform a series of structural reforms to secure its future as a state.

“We both believe the challenge is so urgent, the danger of being left behind so great, and the opportunities so exciting that lines are needed for a new sense of national purpose that cuts across political divisions (…) a fundamental reshaping of the state. around technology. These are not traditional left-right debates. should lead to a more strategic state with a completely new operating model”, reads the report.

The UK is starting with real strengths in many areas of emerging technology. However, the authors warn that without radical change, it risks falling behind and trailing behind the United States and China, which are investing heavily in its future.

For this, they propose a fundamental remodeling of the State, from how the government itself works to how public services are provided. This new “strategic state” it needs to embrace the technological revolution, argue Blair and Hague, in the same way that the private sector is already doing.

First they say that one has to ask how the benefits of this revolution can be harnessed for Britain and use data and technology to reduce the cost of public services and improve results. An example of how the public and private sectors can work together efficiently and successfully is the speed of the response to covid, particularly the development and deployment of new vaccines.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of the authors of the report (James Manning/Pool via REUTERS)
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of the authors of the report (James Manning/Pool via REUTERS) (POOL/)

The reforms proposed by politicians are:

-A reorganization of the center of government to promote this science and technology agenda through government and public services, with the full weight of the prime minister’s authority behind it and, in essence, the skill set to ensure its effective implementation.

-Building the critical infrastructure of the AI ​​era. This includes, among other things, a digital identification secure and privacy-preserving for citizens that allows them to quickly interact with government services, while giving the state the ability to better target support.

-Create an Advanced Procurement Agency (APA) with a specialized mandate to find opportunities for public sector innovation, acquire promising solutions and manage their implementation and testing.

-Encouraging the consolidation of pensions and encourage growth equity by making the pension capital gains tax exemption apply only to funds with more than £20bn under management that allocate a minimum percentage of their funds to UK assets; and combine the UK Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) to create a single investment vehicle that participates in market consolidation.

-Reform the technology transfer offices (TTO) to encourage more spin-outs university students

-Increase public investment in research and development (R&D) to make the UK a leader among comparable nations within five years, along with reforms to the way our science, research and innovation institutions are funded and regulated to provide more freedom and better incentives.

-Invest in new models of organization of research in science and technologyincluding the vast expansion of the Agency for Advanced Research and Invention (ARIA), and the creation of innovative labs that spawn new industries by working at the intersection of cutting-edge science and engineering.

-Pursuing broader planning reforms to ensure that infrastructure projects that are critical to the UK’s economic transformation can gain approval in six months or less, while creating waivers and expedited processes for R&D infrastructure planning.

There is a recommendation in the report that has raised concerns.  It is about
There is a recommendation in the report that has raised concerns. It is about “digital identification for all citizens” (REUTERS / Henry Nicholls) (HENRY NICHOLLS /)

-Integrating new technologies in education to develop the skills of the future and develop a workforce capable of implementing technological advances. This should include a new educational technology training fund to improve teacher confidence and incentives to embrace innovation as part of learning.

-Build stronger global partnerships to avoid being trapped behind the technological superpowers of the US and China.

“With science and technology as our new national purpose, we can innovate instead of stagnating in the face of increasing technological change. This purpose must overcome political differences in order to achieve a new consensus between parties that will survive any change of government”, reads the report.

However, there is one recommendation in the report that has raised concerns. It’s about the “digital identification for all citizens”. It envisions a digital ID that everyone should have on their smartphone. This would incorporate people’s passports, driving licences, tax records, qualifications, right to work and other documents.

“We have the opportunity to shape a radically different future for Great Britain,” they end their report. “One that embraces technology to restore our natural environment, helps people live longer, healthier lives, and creates internationally competitive, high-paying jobs in all four nations of our country. Achieving this will require a once-in-a-generation change in our operating model and an economy-wide transformation in the way we work and innovate.”

The Blair and Hague paper:

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