In the media this week:

Our report Levelling Up Pensions, which argued that pension reform can significantly boost opportunities for lower income workers and regions, continues to be covered in the media:

Elsewhere in the media:

Our new Policy Fellow Ted Christie-Miller wrote for City AM, about the need for Conservatives to go big on green jobs if they are to succeed in the next election.

Director Will Tanner spoke to Politico’s Matt Honeycombe-Foster about his hopes for 2022. He also spoke to The Telegraph about the widening north-south wealth gap, and its potential to threaten Conservative gains in the Red Wall.

Robert Buckland MP cited our report No Turning Back in an article for Conservative Home about the new Conservative coalition.

Onward is hiring!

We are growing our team here at Onward, and are looking for exceptional candidates to fill the following positions. Please do share with anyone who might be interested.

Upcoming event
Screenshot 9 - Onward newsletter, 11/01/2022

Manufacturing is a key component of the UK economy and harnessing the full potential of the sector will be essential as we undergo periods of advancement and innovation. 

The event will consider how we can use technology and digital transformation to rethink the capabilities of UK manufacturing. It is kindly supported by Vodafone.

You can sign up for the event here.

Onward Note

Last week, Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore established a ‘Net Zero Support Group’ of Conservative MPs. Mr Skidmore, who signed the UK’s 2050 net zero commitment into law as Energy and Clean Growth Minister back in 2019, has created the group in order to “demonstrate and maintain Conservative support for net zero carbon emissions and policies needed to deliver this”. 

Alex Luke

It is remarkable that such a step is even necessary. In 2019, every Conservative MP was elected on a manifesto pledging to “lead the global fight against climate change by delivering on our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050”. Voters’ concern about climate change has never been higher. Indeed, Onward polling last year revealed that two-thirds (67%) of voters think the Government should be doing more to tackle climate change. Having trailed low down voters’ concerns a decade ago, net zero is consistently a top-three issue for voters, including for Conservative voters. 

But it is not just that the Conservatives risk being left behind on a key issue. It is also that environmentalism is inherently conservative in nature. Leaving the natural environment in a better state than we inherited is a central tenet of centre right philosophy, as everyone from Roger Scruton to Lord Selwyn Gummer have argued. As Margaret Thatcher said in 1988, “the core of Conservative philosophy and of the case for protecting the environment are the same”. Thatcher was the first prominent world leader to turn the spotlight onto climate change and since then the UK has led the international community in decarbonisation. 

Backing away from this progress would therefore be a mistake – and Chris Skidmore is right to want to defend his manifesto pledge. But the increasingly-loud sceptics on the Conservative benches do have a point – the net zero transition must be handled well to avoid damaging voters’ interests and Conservative votes. 

While voters support net zero, they remain wary of how much it will cost them, as Onward found in our polling and focus groups last year. There is therefore a premium on practical net zero policy ideas which do not overburden voters and enable them to retain choice over how they live their lives and run their homes. Policies which heap costs on taxpayers or enforce drastic behavioural changes will risk the fragile public consensus on environmental action, which is essential if net zero is to be a realistic goal. The spectre of Nigel Farage campaigning against net zero costs should worry the centre right. 

The Conservatives have a proud record seeking to conserve our natural environment and protect future generations. They should not squander it. But they should tread carefully.  

Alex Luke, Senior Researcher, Getting to Zero research programme

Policy Bites

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove MP has announced the Government’s reset on building safety in England. Leaseholders living in their own flats will no longer have to face any costs to fix dangerous cladding, with developers and cladding companies given two months to agree a plan of action to fund remediation costs, estimated to stand at £4 billion. Link

DEFRA has unveiled two new environmental land management schemes, as part of its plan to reward farmers and landowners for actions that benefit the environment. The Local Nature Recovery scheme and Landscape Recovery scheme will support more radical changes to land-use and habitat restoration. Link

The National Highways has announced a new environmental sustainability division to aid its net zero goals, with the aim of cutting all carbon emissions across England’s motorways and major A-roads by 2050. Link

The Government’s New Better Health campaign has launched this week, encouraging families to improve the diet of their children, as new statistics reveal the number of parents giving unhealthy snacks to their children has increased during the pandemic.  Link

Quick Links

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The Times & The Sunday Times
In 2010 The Economist published a front page depicting David Cameron with a warlike Union Jack mohican under the headline: “Radical Britain – The West’s most ….
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The Times & The Sunday Times
In 2010 The Economist published a front page depicting David Cameron with a warlike Union Jack mohican under the headline: “Radical Britain – The West’s most ….
Old Trafford - Onward newsletter, 11/01/2022
The Premier League at 30 – an English success story? | Financial Times
Since the club broke away from their peers in 1992, foreign players and money have flooded i
Old Trafford - Onward newsletter, 11/01/2022
The Premier League at 30 – an English success story? | Financial Times
Since the club broke away from their peers in 1992, foreign players and money have flooded i
%2Fmethode%2Ftimes%2Fprod%2Fweb%2Fbin%2F892d82a4 8f2c 11ec 9569 fea923928840 - Onward newsletter, 11/01/2022
With green solutions the UK can again inspire manufacturing envy
More than two centuries ago, the UK took its first steps towards outpacing its rivals and becoming a global manufacturing superpower,
%2Fmethode%2Ftimes%2Fprod%2Fweb%2Fbin%2F892d82a4 8f2c 11ec 9569 fea923928840 - Onward newsletter, 11/01/2022
With green solutions the UK can again inspire manufacturing envy
More than two centuries ago, the UK took its first steps towards outpacing its rivals and becoming a global manufacturing superpower,