Right Thinking

As an entrepreneur told me this morning, "we need a national endeavour, and one, unlike Brexit, that doesn't split the country down the middle." A good place to start could come from a new paper: Reviving Economic Thinking on the Right.

The authors are Sam Bowman, former Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute (and one of our Advisers), and Stian Westlake, former adviser to three science ministers and co-author of Capitalism Without Capital. Though written with the Conservative Party in mind, the ideas could just as easily be picked up by any of the major parties.

Sam and Stian set out a set of policies in four areas where they think progress can be made: tax, housing, infrastructure and devolution, and innovation and technology.

All these areas impact entrepreneurship: whether in badly designed taxes disincentivising investment; damaging regulations pushing up the costs for entrepreneurs and their employees; poor infrastructure stimiying growth; or mistargeted funding and regulations limiting innovation.

Some of the ideas might seem quite niche – such as creating a new cross-sector sandbox authority – but taken together they could be the skeleton of an economic agenda that would be transformative.

As the paper concludes: "Conservatives would do well to remember the distinction that Margaret Thatcher made between policies that are popular in themselves, and policies that have popular results. The political benefits of the former are immediate, but often short-lived. But it is policies with popular results that change a country for the better, and which underpin long-term political success. An understanding of what is going on with the economy and how public policy can make it work better for the country is crucial for coming up with these policies."

Whatever you think of Thatcher – or Blair, Attlee, Churchill or Lloyd George, for that matter – this distinction is the mark of proper leadership.

Bittersweet Movements
Jo Johnson's resignation was bittersweet: it was heartening to see a principled politician putting the national interest ahead of their personal ambitions, but a huge pity that another of the country's most capable politicians has stepped away from public service.

Johnson wrote the foreword for our immigrant founders report (which incidentally was just featured in this Guardian article). We asked him to get involved because like us he believes in bringing back the Post-Study Work visa, which would mean holding onto more of the best and brightest international students. Not only did he read our draft report at length, he also offered valuable insights on the report's policy asks. There are too few policy experts across the House of Common – if MPs like Jo Johnson, David Gauke and Sam Gyimah aren't MPs in Parliament after the next election, we will all be poorer – both metaphorically and literally – for it.

Jog On
As my colleague Annabel Denham explains: "We are just a few weeks from the launch of our new Female Founders Forum report. To jog the memory on how we are trying to shape policy to ensure more women-led businesses can start and scale, look no further than our two previous reports. Untapped Unicornswas one of the first studies to shine a spotlight on the gender funding gap – which is now getting the attention it deserves – and was quoted in the HM Treasury review into female entrepreneurship earlier this year.

Mentoring Matters addressed access to role models and mentors – both deemed vital to ensuring more women start and scale businesses. This year we are turning attention towards leadership – building a culture, managing crises, and when scaling a business."

Find out more about what's going on for female founders here, and sign up for the quarterly email here.

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