Pivoting to the new Government Agenda? Or Should we Hold our Course

Posted: Tue, 04 Oct 2022 11:46

Pivoting to the new Government Agenda? Or Should we Hold our Course

In her speech to the Tory Party conference the new SoS Michelle Donelan said "This includes creating more wealth and prosperity through our tech, digital, cyber, creative, cultural and arts sectors."

No mention of sport in her eyes for the government's 'Growth Agenda'

This presents a massive challenge for the sport and physical activity sector. Let us be honest we are rarely at the centre of attention for Cabinet Ministers unless there is a major tournament / Olympics or sports scandal, but to be missing from a list of economic contributors to the economy is worrying.

We have been pondering over the last few months what we need to do differently for the sector to be recognised for its contribution to both the economy and also the wider wellbeing agenda. If we are honest with ourselves we have not made that much progress to embed the benefits of movement, activity and sport at the heart of the nations plans for a long time. True every now and again we get a mention in a plan, and some nodding recognition. Put the proof is always in the action that follows. I don't think many would argue we have won many of those battles?

Some of this goes deeper. Many other countries value the wellbeing agenda and embrace its consequences - creating policies beyond a simplistic drive to economic growth. Much of our own messaging as a sector has been about the wider social benefits we all know derive from the work of our sector - a healthier society in every aspect! We believe at the STT that this is right. In fact we believe we should shout about this more and target a wellbeing society as the prize. It is not impossible. Look at NZ, Norway, Wales and Scotland. All moving in that direction.

But now we are faced with a government agenda that is unapologetically about a narrow vision of economic growth, We can of course go into the questions around the lack of evidence for trickle down economics but this is where we are. (Why it is time to change the narrative around growth)

So how does the sector respond? Do we alter our focus and messaging to fit in or do we continue to push our long term ambition that government will recognise the wellbeing agenda and contribution our wider sector makes.

It is hard work when so little progress is made. But we have to keep believing there is hope.

So we believe we maintain our higher goals. But we also know that if this government survives (A big IF at the moment) we need to be entering the corridors of power through Ministers and SPADS who are fully committed to this narrow growth agenda. So we need to be smart. We need to open those doors by talking to them in their language. We need to highlight the elements of our story that fit their current agenda. It doesn't mean abandoning any of our ambitions but being smarter in how we communicate.

If the polls are to be believed there will be a Labour Government soon. We attended the Labour conference and there is clearly a different vision for the UK, which is based on this wider sharing of prosperity and issues of wellbeing where the wider sport voice was not just heard but is being embraced.

We have worked with sports policy shaped by numerous Ministers for over 30 years. Fashions and politicians come an go. We should play smart but believe in our wider cause and goals.

Tags: DCMS, Featured, Sports Policy, Sports Think Tank, sport policy