Our latest report, Give Back Control, continued to receive media coverage. Will Tanner wrote an op-ed for ConservativeHome calling for more devolution to England’s cities and counties and Deputy Director and report author Adam Hawksbee was interviewed on TalkTV about the findings.
Will and Adam both also wrote op-eds commenting on the causes and implications of the Conservative Party’s double by-election defeats last week. You can read Will’s for the i paper here and Adam’s for City AM here.
Director Will Tanner gave evidence before the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill Committee last Thursday. More information here.
Today Adam Hawksbee will be speaking alongside Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson and others at the New Statesman Politics Live Conference on a panel about transport and the levelling up agenda. More information here.
Tomorrow Will Tanner will speak at an event organised by the Institute of Physics about how we can effectively use increases in R&D funding to level up the UK.
To mark the launch of National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios 2022, join Onward for a discussion on the 18th of July on UK energy security at our event ‘Securing the Future: How can the UK’s future energy system deliver energy security?’
The war in Ukraine has amplified concerns about UK energy security, with gas and electricity prices surging and impacting on businesses and consumers. In response, the Government published the British Energy Security Strategy, which aims to improve energy security through new nuclear power stations and a huge expansion of offshore wind.
To help integrate new nuclear and offshore wind and to enable a future energy system for all that is secure, clean, affordable and fair, the UK’s energy system will also need expanded energy networks and complementary technologies like low-carbon hydrogen and carbon capture usage and storage. In addition, new markets will be needed to help keep a Net Zero electricity grid stable, and existing markets may need to change. These complex changes will have to be delivered in the context of the current energy price crisis.
For more information about the event and to sign up, head here.
New Podcast episode
In this episode of Building Belonging Will and Alex speak to Sophia Parker, founder of Little Village, a charity providing young families with clothes, toys and a supportive community.
Of last week’s two by-elections, Tiverton and Honiton was the one that mattered.
In Wakefield the Conservatives always faced an uphill struggle. This is a Red Wall marginal and Tory majority was just 3,358 votes, requiring a mere four per cent swing. And that’s before the previous Tory MP was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. The polls were right to predict a Labour gain.
Tiverton and Honiton is different. Before last week, it had a majority of 24,239. Now the Tories are 6,144 behind, after a 30 per cent swing against. Even in mid-term, this is bad for the Conservatives. It has drawn comparisons with Eastbourne in 1990. That by-election was borne out of tragedy after the IRA assassinated the Conservative MP. But by polling day it had descended into Conservative crisis, after the Liberal Democrats overturned the Conservatives’ 16,923 vote majority on a 20 per cent swing.
The result convinced Conservative MPs to remove Margaret Thatcher and the question now is whether Tiverton and Honiton will precipitate a similar fate for Boris Johnson. There are three reasons to be sceptical of immediate repercussions.
The first is that, unlike Eastbourne, everyone was resigned to defeat in Tiverton and Honiton. Local canvassers reported a depressed vote, the candidate was heckled and the Tory association chairman endorsed the Liberal Democrats.
The second is that Labour scaled back their campaign to ensure a Conservative defeat . Last month, Keir Starmer reportedly told his Shadow Cabinet not to campaign in Devon, and his candidate crashed to 1,562 votes. Such tactics are unlikely to be replicated at a general election.
The third reason is that Boris Johnson has been gifted a temporary reprieve from his victory in the no confidence vote and the lack of preparedness among his potential replacements. The biggest threat now is from cabinet walkouts, but Oliver Dowden’s resignation hasn’t yet been followed by others.
These by-election defeats matter. But as warning shots rather than the final blow. The Conservative vote is adrift, restless, angry. It is not yet lost, but time is running out to retrieve it.
A longer version of this note appeared in the i paper on 24 June.
Director of Onward
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced that the UK has agreed new modernised terms for outdated Energy Charter Treaty, strengthening its sovereignty in the transition to cheaper and cleaner energy. Link.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced a Help to Build equity loan scheme to help people build their own homes. Link.
The Department for International Trade has announced free trade negotiations between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Link.