Let’s figure out together how to stop lockdowns from happening again in future

By Lord Wei of Shoreditch on 15 March 2021
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As the nation starts to look ahead to the future cautiously, it is time to take stock and reflect on what just happened and to ensure it doesn’t happen again, or if it does, to minimise the impact on our freedoms, economy, and health from having to lockdown in future. 

If we are really honest, we’ve just had our Dunkirk, and our battle of Britain, and the D-day represented by the beginning of our massive vaccination programme, which has gotten off to a great start. But many lives have been lost, the population is weary, our front line staff and key workers exhausted, and we still have many mountains to climb before any kind of victory can be declared not least in terms of the economic fallout and the huge debts that we have incurred to fight the virus with furlough, PPE, and emergency spending. 

What we need to realise is that the world has changed, and whilst we would all like to have things go back to normal, we need to level with ourselves and everyone else and realise that that outcome is unlikely, even if we have a period in the next year or so of roaring growth, and normalisation. With continuing variants mutating, the threat of geopolitical instability, climate volatility, and cyber, quantum, and other threats still hanging over us, and terrorists and others emboldened by how easy it was to destabilise our economies and societies, the probabilities are high that we haven’t seen the end of this period of asymmetric shocks. Indeed this may be just the beginning. 

The good news is that we can do something about this. We can start right now to prepare not just for winning the battle against this virus, or coming to a long term truce with it as we learn to live with it, but for becoming a world, a country, and a set of institutions that can win against everything else that might hit us after 2020-2021. We need to have a government, a nation, and a society that can move on from the fragility and unresponsiveness we have had to witness at times to date, when you would pull a lever and it did not seem anything would happen with any sense of urgency – we need to find a way to become more nimble, more distributed, and more agile. 

We saw this can happen very clearly with the development of the vaccine programme in which politicians, business people, and civil society have come together to source, scale, and promote the solutions that are now helping us rocket out of the crisis. What else can help us be more resilient and able to respond better next time round? What new adaptive healthcare, education, migration, climate, governance, and social care approaches can we now evolve that will allow us to weather future storms and be stronger? What do we need to do to avoid having to shut down the country’s economy, but for a few thousand beds, or to protect the millions of people whose livelihoods had to go on hold as we did so, in retail, hospitality, and many other sectors? What is the right balance between central control, decentralisation, and third party systems to ensure we don’t just have a Plan A, or a Plan B, but C through Z, to face whatever is coming at us in the years ahead? 

To facilitate exploring these questions, I and my colleagues at the Shaftesbury Partnership will be inaugurating on the 18th of March 2021, at 6pm, a new series of online talks and events. The aim of the series is to catalyse a conversation about how we meet the future challenges ahead in the new volatile era we have entered, and what we need to do to prepare our country, our departments, businesses, people and places, to be more nimble, agile, and resilient. 

The launch date we have chosen is significant, since it was the day in 1940 when Hitler and Mussolini agreed to join forces, a day which lead to a new intensive phase in the Second World War. Similarly today, enemy forces that want to disrupt our way of life are individually and collectively arming up, knowing we are fragile and have been laid low, and have been weakened economically and societally. However, they underestimate how strong we can be when we come together and respond, as we have done so far this last year, and throughout history. Our nation has shown time and time again, that when our backs are up against the wall, we find a way to bounce back. 

So come and join us and shape how we can Bounce Back Stronger and Build a more Resilient Britain, and join our future events online as we create a roadmap collaboratively out of the mess we have ended up in, and into a future where we minimise the chances of being caught short again — a future in which the last person, organisation, and country standing, is most likely to win. 

Sign up for Bounce Back Stronger and Build a more Resilient Britain [Eventbrite]