White Papers used to be dense, serious analyses. Apparently this is no longer the caseby Len Shackleton / December 6, 2017 / Leave a comment
The industrial strategy White Paper, published at the end of last month, shows that Conservatives can think about something other than Brexit. This is commendable. But it has not had a great reception. Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, says it’s “too little, too late.” Some business groups are vaguely approving: for the Institute of Directors, the document “identifies the key challenges,” while the British Chambers of Commerce are pleased that Business Secretary Greg Clark has “listened to” firms’ concerns. But the Confederation of British Industry says that the government must focus on delivery.
Indeed. For, while the White Paper paints a rosy picture of a future in which Britain will aim to be “the most innovative country in the world,” there is the little matter of getting there.
White Papers used to be dense, serious analyses of problems with clearly-spelt-out conclusions and proposals for action. Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the Future looks and reads like a supersized election manifesto. Over 250 pages long, it has little coherent narrative. Much space is taken by irrelevant photographs of people doing things you can’t quite make out, while bullet points, boxes, sidebars abound. Names of improbable groups and organisations pop up without much explanation—the “Midlands Engine,” the “Digital Catapult’s Machine Learning Garage Programme” the “North West Nuclear Arc Programme,” presumably to impress us that stuff is happening.