Arms-waving, lectern-thumping, hair-jumping, so Boris emerged from his recovery with a Churchillian earnest. Thankfully, some life and energy back at No 10.
Normally I am a glass half-full sort of guy, but in recent weeks my glass has been furloughed into half-empty. We all have our views about the judgements and decisions made by the Government to date, I have been somewhat critical. But Boris now urges us all to unite behind him, as he takes the tough decisions about easing the lockdown.
What is clear is that Boris has an extraordinary opportunity to be a 21st Century version of his hero, Churchill, leading the nation to defeat the enemy virus. But he needs to grasp it fast, and big, now that he is back.
There has been a massive shift in public attitude: firstly, to appreciate the incredible importance of frontline public services, that are far more important than unproductive gambling in the City. Secondly, that we are all in this together, health is more important than material things. The best memorial to those who have sadly died is to reinvigorate and renergize Britain to being better than before.
Boris starts with a large cocktail of public goodwill as well as relief that the boss is back. Last year, the message was Back Boris. From now on: Back Britain. Never again must we be left so exposed to others at a time of crisis in some many areas. Never again must we rely on global just in time supply chains that break at the first sign of trouble.
There could be four key elements to a Back Britain campaign: British health, British food, British manufacturing and British technology. They all feed off each other. They can all drive an incredible blossoming of creative talent and ideas. A glorious flowering of can do spirit, that transforms productivity and boosts pride in our nation.
British health means funding our healthcare properly at all levels. Let’s welcome continuous improvement as a culture. This will ensure a “Better and Better” ambition in managing and organising the health and care sectors. We must be self reliant producers of critical medicines, essential equipment and well trained people. This is a wonderful manufacturing opportunity, a chance to skill up hundreds of thousands of folk and invest in technology.
British food means backing our farming and fishing industries to the hilt. Buying local, buying British. Investing in technology to help us grow more here, in a sustainable, productive way that maintains welfare standards.
British manufacturing is now a huge opportunity to help all the other elements of the Back Britain strategy. For too long it has been derided by the City money men. With long term funding, freeports and other tax incentives, (that we can now do having left the EU), some of the poorest areas can unleash a jobs boom as we build, build, build.
British technology is vital to the other elements of Back Britain. There are some excellent examples of innovative tech firms in the UK, but we need much more. Too often incredible early promise is sold overseas. Our entrepreneurs need longer term venture capital funding, and tax incentives to encourage firms to launch and stay in the UK.
This new world needs new big, brave, bold thinking and smart long-term funding. There is probably no one better for that than Boris. This is his chance to be a 21st Century Churchillian leader.