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What’s Onward This Week

“You’re joking – not another one”. Brenda from Bristol’s viral reaction to an early general election may ring in voters’ ears with the launch of Popular Conservatism this week. The plethora of initiatives within the Conservatives may bemuse the public – and further distract ahead of an election – but conservatism is evolving again and the question is where it goes.

For the architects of ‘PopCon’, you can’t set out to be popular as a means of itself nor revert to easy-to-say but hard-to-deliver ideas like rapid tax cuts. The group might be right on some things, like the need to reduce immigration, but they’re wrong on other areas, like climate change, which voters deeply care about. 

If the next evolution of conservatism is to be popular, it needs to look forward and be based in the present. The future demands an active, not absent state, as Onward’s Future of Conservatism Project argues. 


✍️ Research

Labour’s unrealistic £28 billion green spending pledge may be gone, but their target to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2030 remains. It may only be five years earlier than the Government’s existing target but experts say this final hurdle is the hardest. Regardless of the target date, communities must be persuaded to host large swathes of new clean energy infrastructure to achieve the net zero milestone.

The answer could lie in a ‘Green Energy Covenant’ mandating developers to provide community benefits for areas hosting energy infrastructure. Onward proposed this idea in its Power to the People paper, and this week, former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng called for the Prime Minister to require developers to pay up this week. Opinion polling shows rural voters are nearly twice as likely to back a project with community benefits, with support rising to 80%. 


📰 Media Mentions

Onward Director Sebastian Payne wrote in the i about how to make the Conservatives popular.

Lord Hague cites Onward’s ‘The Case for Conservatism’ in his Times column on increasing the Conservative Party popularity this week.

Onward’s Head of New Deal for Parents Phoebe Arslanagić-Little warns that some mindfulness sessions might actually be damaging young people’s mental health in City AM.

Senior Researcher Jenevieve Treadwell discusses why immigration will be a problem for both the Conservatives and Labour in the upcoming election in City AM.   


🌐 Onward Online

How has the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology fared in the one year since its creation? Head of Science and Technology Allan Nixon outlines the areas for improvement. 

With the Center for Cities endorsing our Giving Back Better recommendations, what exactly are Charitable Action Zones and how can they improve the geography of giving? Senior Researcher Shivani H Menon explains.


🗓️ Upcoming Events

Event Graphics 2023 28 - Onward Newsletter 09/02/2024

We are delighted to invite you to our upcoming panel event Pride in Place: How can Britain revive its ‘Little Platoons’ and rebuild its social fabric? 

How can Britain restore its sense of pride in place? Since Onward was founded in 2018, themes of community, place, localism, strengthening regional economies and boosting civil society have been core to our research on Levelling Up. 

Onward was pioneering in seeking to measure the strength of Britain’s social fabric, finding that in too many places community strength has become frayed. With nearly 4 million Britons experiencing chronic loneliness, the decline in ‘third spaces’ and ever more pressure for young people to move away from home, how can public policy further a renewal of civic participation, local pride and a shared experience of community?

This panel event is part of our series on the Future of Conservatism, Onward’s commission seeking to chart a course for the future of the British centre-right.  Led by the Minister for Housing Lee Rowley, we will discuss how to level up left-behind communities and restore social fabric. 

We hope you are able to join us.

Date: Tuesday 27th February 

Time: 18:30- 19:45

Location: UnHerd Club, Central Westminster 

To sign up for this event, please click here.

image - Onward Newsletter 09/02/2024

We are delighted to invite you to Restitch: The Social Fabric Summit organised in partnership with Labour Together and Create Streets. Please register to attend here.

Following the success of Restitch: The Social Fabric Summit in 2022, Onward, Create Streets and our new partners Labour Together are bringing together key thinkers and practitioners in Coventry’s Cathedral Quarter on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th March 2024 to debate and discuss how to strengthen the ties that bind us and renew the places that give us roots.

The historic St Mary’s Guildhall and Drapers Hall will host the main day of panels featuring: 

  • Tom Tugendhat MP, Minister for Security
  • Carlos Moreno, initiator of the ‘15 Minute City’ concept
  • Steve Reed MP, Shadow Environment Secretary
  • Clare Wightman, CEO, Grapevine Coventry
  • Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire
  • Munira Mirza, CEO, Civic Future
  • Daniel Finkelstein, Columnist, The Times

To view the full event overview, please visit the website here. 

Date: Thursday 7th and Friday 8th March 

Location: Cathedral Quarter, Coventry 
Thanks to our generous partners, it is free to attend so register here to secure your place.


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