Isaac Stanley in openDemocracy:
My Government is committed to establishing the United Kingdom as a world-leader in scientific capability and space technology.” Amidst the pomp and circumstance, and the defiant Brexit-related soundbites, careful observers of the Queen’s speech would have noted the persistence of two more substantive themes.
On the one hand, the speech contained flashes of techno-nationalism, with commitments to establish the UK as a “world-leader in scientific capability and space technology.” On the other, it dutifully nodded to the spectre of the ‘left behind’, with its mention of “ambitions for unleashing regional potential in England”.
The government briefing paper accompanying the speech emphasises the novelty of its commitments, most notably to “to significantly boost R&D funding” and to set up a UK equivalent of the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). But its basic juxtaposition of elements – high-tech R&D as the key to boosting productivity and reviving flagging regions – has been a running theme since May’s leadership. The government’s existing ‘Industrial Strategy White Paper’ already maintains that “if we succeed, we will create an economy which works for everyone.”
But in its current shape, the Industrial Strategy, even with more recent additions, can only fail to achieve this objective. Its overwhelming focus is on frontier sectors, to the neglect of vast swathes of the ‘low-value’ economy.