Bobby backs purpose-driven growth plan

27 Sep 2023
bd at conf

Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Carshalton & Wallington, Bobby Dean, backed a new ‘purpose-driven’ growth plan in a speech at Liberal Democrat conference.

Speaking in a debate about Britain adopting an Industrial Strategy, Bobby condemned the Conservative government for giving up on a long-term plan for Britain’s economy and backed the Lib Dem plan that would “encourage growth in a direction that works for people and planet”.

You can watch the speech from 3:22:35 below or read it in full.

If you want to understand what this Conservative Government’s priorities are, you can take a look at the departments they’ve abolished:

Department for Climate Change - gone

International Development - rolled into the Foreign Office

And most recently Industrial Strategy - shuffled out in a departmental rebrand

Whether it’s saving our planet, tackling global poverty or having some sort of long-term plan for Britain’s economy - this Government just isn’t interested in any of it.

I want to address a certain misconception about what having an industrial strategy means. 

It is not the crude idea of “picking winners” - the state interfering in a process better left to markets. 

This is an outdated view of economics.

The complexity of modern governance means that even if you don't mean to have an industrial strategy, you always have an impact on industry somehow  - with the conditions for some activities favoured while others inadvertently punished. 

For far too long, Britain's approach to industry has been piecemeal.

PR-driven announcements are made to steal a headline or last-minute, panicked rescue deals are made to save face. 

This short-termism is damaging our country's long-term economic interests.

It is time for that to change. 

Modern economies serious about growth have industrial strategies and it's about time Britain caught up. 

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Now some like to suggest that growth is not as desirable as it once was.

Surely we desire more than growth at all costs - it is often uneven and has negative effects on our environment.

But giving up on growth would be dangerous. Doing so will make it harder - not easier - to tackle inequality and climate change, with poorer public services and greater instability.

Instead what we need to remember is that growth not only has a rate, but a direction. 

How we achieve growth should be as important to liberals as how big and fast growth is. 

And that is what we mean we talk about a purpose-driven industrial strategy.

If Government sits it out, growth may still happen but the outcomes will be patchy at best.

So we must reimagine the role of state. Not as an overbearing, negative force on free enterprise or the occasional market fixer when things go on.

But instead Government should be a dynamic partner -  with business, academia and wider civil society - helping to catalyse, shape and encourage growth in a direction that works for people and planet. 

Working together, under a long-term industrial strategy, we can rise to the complex challenges ahead of us. 

We can get the British economy growing again.

Conference, we should be proud that the Liberal Democrats are leading the way to a purpose driven growth plan and I urge you all to vote for the motion.