Well, we are almost two weeks into the New Year – and, as I write, we still have the same prime minister.
Whatever your politics, there is no doubt that 2022 was unhealthily turbulent, and disruptive to the country, business, and the economy.
An interviewer put it to Keir Starmer last year that he was ‘boring’ to which the Labour leader responded, “Politics is not an arena for entertainers.”
With Rishi Sunak now resident in 10 Downing Street, it is fair to say that, like them or not, it does feel as though the grown-ups are in charge again. I think, when it comes to politics, we would all settle for a year of ‘boring’, following the five or six years of turbulence we have endured.
Nevertheless, with a General Election just over twelve months away, there will be a cranking up of noise between the two main parties (and the rest), but hopefully the debates and discussions will be more about how we can fix the country post-pandemic, grow the economy, and offer a clear vision of the UKs future. The time has come to draw a line under populism, pretending that difficult challenges can be easily fixed, and where personalities have mattered more than policies.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that politics has to be uninteresting. Certainly, the issues that will be front and centre of politicians presentations will significantly impact on the business community. How can we improve a battered infrastructure? What can we do to solve the perennial problem of the skills gap and the low productivity levels we have suffered for too long? Can devolution be turbo-charged to help resolve some of these challenges?
These are some of the key policy areas that we will be exploring with the key decision makers and you during the next twelve months. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, Downtown in Business will welcome the Minister for education, the shadow minister for health, the new Labour Leader of Liverpool City Council, the West Midlands mayor, Lord Heseltine, and Lord Adonis to DIB events. You will be able to hear what they propose – and more importantly tell them what you think.
As ever, Downtown will be anything but boring. And as we celebrate our twentieth anniversary in business, we will be bringing you a few surprises along the way as well.
But, for all our sakes, we hope that our political leaders leave the entertaining to Harry & Meghan, Matt Hancock, and Donald Trump – and focus on fixing the country. We could all do with a bit of boring in 2023.