This paper aims to generate a debate about the need In England for a radical long-term plan to undermine populism and populist policies. It raises a series of questions about the way in which a Neo-liberal framework has shaped UK policy and fed ‘populist urges’.
Set in the context of rising populism and the Covid-19 pandemic, the research calls for a response that goes beyond reliance on markets and centralised policy and that is made at arm’s length from industry. It says that current policy is still short-term and largely made in Westminster despite city-regions and that a long-term policy transformation is necessary.
The paper sets out a broad long-term strategy that aims to reduce the allure of populism, focusing on three related ideas: the need to create inclusive growth, to promote social mobility out of segregated pockets of society and to recreate the social contract on a regional, national, and cosmopolitan level.
The research concludes by calling for an increase in higher education participation rate and the construction of a wide ‘graduate job’ economy, arguing that a long-term strategy for creating corresponding growth in regionally-focussed graduate jobs is key to achieving this.
It adds that although Covid-19 is a threat, it also creates opportunities for serious thought about the future and has added salience to the need for a longer-term transformation based on how and where the state comes back in, and how relations between state, markets and planning, city-regions, innovation and universities are reconfigured.
The paper concludes that long-term plans based on city-regional agglomerations, into which core city networks linking knowledge-based companies, research universities and city-regional administrations are integrated are the way forward, but calls into question whether a debate around all this is possible in the chaotic political world in which we currently live.