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The government needs a strategy for growth – why?

I have just watched this Simon Sinek lecture on TEDx for the second time. The lecture is about inspirational leadership – and he keeps reiterating a key point ‘…if you don’t know why you do what you do how do you expect others to buy in to what you do…’.

This has got me thinking about what the current government is about; I was reminded of the statement at the back of the coalition agreement:

‘The deficit reduction programme takes precedence over any of the other measures in this agreement…’

Essentially this tells us that everything the government is going to do is about deficit reduction – and to be fair, they have maintained that course. They have also started to talk about growth at all costs and this is where I started to think about what we could learn from the Sinek lecture.

In the terms of Sinek, the government have told us ‘what’ they are going to do: drive growth, reduce the deficit; they have even told us the ‘how’ in terms of deficit reduction: cut public sector spending, reduce welfare benefits; the problem is they have not articulated a ‘why?’ – the narrative is missing.

I believe the lack of a ‘why?’ and the narrative is a major problem in getting growth going again and garnering long-term support for their deficit reduction programme. Those who work in economic development, economists and most in the private sector seem to just agree that it is what is required – they need to convince the majority ‘why?’.

Given the lack of a ‘why?’ we will all develop our own theories and the recent Budget and other policy announcements do not help:

  • Reducing the 50p tax rate may make economic sense to many – to most it seems a tax cut for the rich – is that why we need growth?
  • Recent announcements about reviewing the public sector equality duty and the removal of some of the provisions does nothing to progress equality – do we want to grow so some are more equal than others?
  • The Beecroft report looked at reducing employees’ rights further: is growth and deficit reduction about reducing employee protection?

Perhaps if we were able to articulate the need for responsible growth, a growth that created a more equal society, where the many, not the few, could benefit from our collective endeavours, then perhaps we could get some wider buy in.

It seems to me that the political classes have totally fallen into a pattern of arguing about the ‘what’ and ‘how’.  If we could all have a bit of a debate about the ‘why?’ then perhaps we could finally all try and get out of the current mess together.

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