How to be a suc­cess­ful Prime Min­is­ter

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor -

MRS MAY will have to work hard not to be­come Mis­ery May. She’s been dealt one of the tough­est hands of any peace­time Prime Min­is­ter and she’ll have to play that hand in an in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous world. Good news is likely to be in very short sup­ply. Yet op­ti­mism is what she has to en­gen­der. She’ll have to make her own luck and cre­ate suc­cesses on her own ac­count, oth­er­wise, she’ll be dragged un­der by the squab­bling and blame-shift­ing that Brexit makes in­evitable.

Low in­ter­est rates, full em­ploy­ment and no cred­i­ble al­ter­na­tive party give her a fight­ing chance. Her Chan­cel­lor, the in­creas­ingly im­pres­sive Philip Ham­mond, has al­ready sig­nalled a will­ing­ness to change course and in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture and hous­ing. How­ever, that’ll have lit­tle pop­u­lar ef­fect if it’s merely a mat­ter of pounds spent and units built. It has to be a real sense of na­tional trans­for­ma­tion.

We must feel that Bri­tain and its com­mu­ni­ties are on the march. The un­der­ly­ing theme has to be that Bri­tain can do it, how­ever hard we’ve made it for our­selves. There must be de­ter­mi­na­tion to cel­e­brate ev­ery suc­cess and build that cel­e­bra­tion into ev­ery project.

Cross­rail is a good place to start—lon­don, too, needs re­as­sur­ance—but not with only one huge open­ing, al­though that is im­por­tant. In­stead, there need to be a thou­sand sto­ries over a pro­longed pe­riod, telling of the op­por­tu­ni­ties for the new busi­nesses, af­ford­able hous­ing and lo­cal en­ter­prise that it will un­lock. Con­sciously build into the project the hous­ing that re­newed na­tional in­vest­ment will make pos­si­ble.

Then, build up a pat­tern of im­prove­ment, in­stead of a se­ries of un­con­nected and un­re­marked deve-lop­ments. Make Cross­rail a sym­bol of suc­cess for all Lon­don­ers, but don’t let it be only for Lon­don. Cel­e­brate it as an­other proof of the value of our na­tional cap­i­tal to us all: the one-world city.

Mrs May must be a Prime Min­is­ter for the whole coun­try and seiz­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties of in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment through­out Bri­tain will be cru­cial to achiev­ing that. This year, Sh­effield was cho­sen as the pi­lot for a pro­gramme to use new flood de­fences as a ve­hi­cle for re­gen­er­a­tion. Her govern­ment must show a conscious de­ter­mi­na­tion to turn this emer­gency spend­ing into proof that we are a na­tion de­ter­mined to mod­ernise ev­ery­where, but par­tic­u­larly in our great cities.

It’s not sta­tis­tics, but the ex­pe­ri­ence of new op­por­tu­ni­ties that will cre­ate the can-do spirit of op­ti­mism Mrs May needs. An in­fra­struc­ture pro­gramme for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency must reach into the lives of as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. It should be about part­ner­ship with lo­cal coun­cils to trans­form lo­cal es­tates, us­ing lo­cal builders and work­ing with res­i­dents to re­in­force and re­vi­talise the lo­cal com­mu­nity, not a na­tional ten­der for X mil­lion con­ver­sions done by Bar­ratt De­vel­op­ments and man­aged by Capita.

Mak­ing a thou­sand en­ter­prises pos­si­ble and prof­itable is far more likely to cre­ate a can-do na­tion than a few mam­moth pres­tige projects. Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy means the coun­try­side is full of busi­nesses that would blos­som, if only the Govern­ment would tackle the bar­ri­ers to their growth.

For in­stance, cli­mate change, chalky soil and south-fac­ing slopes have cre­ated an English sparkling-wine in­dus­try ready to take off big time, if only we’d learn from the French how to en­cour­age it fur­ther. The Scan­di­na­vians have shown how to make Green busi­ness good busi­ness and the Ger­mans how fam­ily en­ter­prises can flour­ish in ev­ery cor­ner of the na­tion.

Mrs May must use th­ese ex­am­ples to drive suc­cess in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties na­tion­wide and make sure that ev­ery one is cel­e­brated.

‘Theresa May will have to make her own luck and cre­ate suc­cesses on her own ac­count

Fol­low @agromenes on Twit­ter

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