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In this week’s newsletter:

  • What do NHS strikes mean for Christmas and the next election?
  • Saving Britain from continued economic decline
  • New event: ‘In conversation with’ Michael Lind on the future of conservatism

Coal controversy. Michael Gove’s decision to grant planning permission for a new coal mine has been met with a mixed reaction. Polling by YouGov found that voters are evenly split on the decision, with those for, against, and unsure on the decision divided into thirds. Onward’s own polling, conducted in April following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, found that the public does support investing in domestic energy production to boost energy security. But they were much more supportive of renewables, polling at 68%, as one of the best ways to secure the UK’s energy supply, significantly above nuclear at 47%, and coal and fracking at 29%. 

In bad health. The NHS is facing record levels of demand as nurses and paramedics prepare to strike over Christmas. As well as causing stress for patients, this will be a political headache for the Government. The health service is a top concern for over half of voters, as found in Onward’s After the Fall. And of the 60 policies we tested in the report, “increasing taxes on big businesses to fund investment of public services like the NHS” had the second highest level of support. With the Conservatives trailing 30 points behind Labour on handling the NHS, finding a practical solution must be a priority before the next election.

Industrialists not investing. The trade body Make UK is reporting a drop in British investment intentions among manufacturers from 7% to -5%. With a recession looming and pressures on public spending increasing, boosting private investment is crucial. In Incentivising Innovation, Onward set out a plan for increasing R&D investment including steps to simplify the tax credit scheme for small businesses and extending capital reliefs. As the Government looks towards a fiscal statement in the Spring, these are the sorts of measures they’ll need to turn to.

Girl power. Both private and public schools for girls rank the highest in the latest league table of the best schools in the UK, published by Parent Power Ranking. The Times reports that this success is aided through extracurricular programmes to help with student’s mental health such as yoga and meditation. But not all students can benefit from these programmes. Onward research shows that only 26% of kids in the most deprived areas attend extra curricular clubs, compared to almost half of their wealthier counterparts.

News and media

Lord Hague cited Onward research in his column calling for young people to have greater protections online.

Reuters cited Onward polling in their discussion of the Conservative party’s youth problem.

Senior researcher Francois Valentin diagnoses the problems for the French centre-right in UnHerd.

Sebastian Payne announces his new role as Onward’s Director on Payne’s Politics. The announcement was also covered in Politico’s London Playbook

Upcoming events

The Future of Conservatism: In Conversation with Michael Lind.

Britain coming apart, not coming together, is one of the greatest challenges we face as a nation. Across the pond, centrifugal forces are also tearing American democracy apart and polarising politics. What answer does conservatism have to these challenges? What shared institutions and collective identities can help to build a more resilient economy and a stronger society? And what are some of the practical steps the centre-right should take in power in order to move towards a renewed form of conservatism? 

This event will see Nick Timothy, former Downing Street Chief of Staff, discuss the future of conservatism with Michael Lind, influential American columnist and writer. 

Sign up here.

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