5 Assessment of current strategic
thinking in Government |
54. We took the views of our witnesses on the
current state of strategic thinking in Whitehall, and suggestions
for how this may be improved. Many of our witnesses doubted whether
public identity, national values and expert opinion informed policy
development at present. Lord Rees of Ludlow, the Astronomer Royal,
cited policy on offshore wind as an example "where it is
clear that decisions were made on the basis of inadequate thought".
55. Sir David King set out his view that there
was a wider failure of strategic working across Whitehall, stating
there is a serious lack of strategic thinking within
and across government departments. There is very little strategic
thinking of the long-term nature that I believe is necessary within
the Cabinet Office and Number 10 as well.
Lord Carter of Coles argued that the Government did
not have "an overall strategic plan for the domestic situation".
He added that "a succession of Governments have never felt
the need" for a strategic plan, a view shared by Lord Burns.
It was, according to Nick Butler, Professor of Public Policy at
King's College London, "regrettable" that the failure
to consider such a strategy as necessary, had left us without
"a National Strategy for the economy or for the future of
56. The Joint Committee on the National Security
Strategy has also separately raised the question of a failure
to think strategically, considering the UK's national interests,
concluding that the National Security Strategy:
does not yet present a clear overarching strategy:
a common understanding about the UK's interests and objectives
that guides choices on investment across government departments,
including domestic departments, as well as guiding operational
priorities and crisis response.
57. The Minister argued that the strategy for
government means being clear about its aims, developing policies
which you will think will meet those aims, and then ensuring that
policies are implemented.
58. We urge the government to
take note of the conclusions of the report by the Joint Committee
on National Security which advocated an 'overarching strategy'.
We share the concerns raised by our witnesses about the poor quality
of National Strategy in Government. The evidence from the Minister
and the Cabinet Office did not allay or address our concerns.
We have little confidence that policies are informed by a clear,
coherent strategic approach, informed by an assessment of the
public's aspirations and their perceptions of the national interest.
50 Q 71 Back
Q 258 [Sir David King] Back
Q 216 Back
Q 3 [Nick Butler] Back
Joint Committee on National Security Strategy, First review
of the National Security Strategy 2010, para 25 Back
Q 285 Back