Ideas Wales is a Labour supporting, but independent think-tank. It exists to help provide the ideas and the new thinking needed to help the centre-left build a fairer and more prosperous Wales. We are committed to the success of Labour in Wales at all levels, but we operate at arms length from the party.
We have set out our two key ambitions. Firstly, our ambition for renewal and secondly our ambition to engage. In detail, these ambitions are:
An Ambition to Renewal
Ideas Wales is committed to the renewal of political ideas and policy options for Wales. Where achievements have been made we seek to build on them. Where there are continuing problems we seek to think afresh on how to solve them. Where there are new challenges we seek to develop long-term approaches to face up to them. In so doing we will draw on our historical traditions in Wales and Britain; and we will draw on good ideas and practice from around the world. Above all we will seek to overcome the cynical attitude that politics must disappoint, and relate political ideas practically to the lived experiences of people throughout Wales. We will rule no particular approaches in or out.
An Ambition to Engage
Ideas Wales wishes to engage as broadly as possible with people who have the ideas and/or expertise to make a difference to debate about the big political and policy issue facing Wales today. There are many people who have a lot to give who do not necessarily wish to become part of the formal process of party politics; this is an opportunity to participate on that basis. Equally, work on new ideas and policies will be commissioned from both within and outside the Labour Party.
Guiding principles and aspirations
In seeking to inspire a fresh re-think of the political ideas that might inspire the future governance of Wales we are guided by six key principles and aspirations: respect; prosperity, sustainability, justice; freedom and happiness. Overarching all these ideas is the need to create the right balance between rights and responsibilities of the individual and society.
We seek a society based on mutual respect. We need ideas and policies that respect both the diversity of modern Wales as well as what unites it. This agenda must bring an equal focus on the values of Welsh and British identity, those who speak English and those who wish to speak the Welsh language, those who live in urban and rural locations, and those who wish to live by different national, religious and racial customs, gender equality and non-discrimination. Building a society of mutual respect must also cover a wide range of concerns ranging from a core respect for the environment to that for the rights of individuals, from the elderly to the rights of children.
We seek a society based on a prosperous economy. We need ideas and policies that encourage wealth generation throughout Wales. This must focus on attracting the location of large scale enterprises as well as providing the basis for the successful development of Welsh enterprise. We are equally concerned about urban development, the rural economy and economic regeneration in areas when there have been job losses. Building a more prosperous Wales must embrace a desire for an entrepreneurial culture, a vision based on sustainable economic development and an aspiration to focus on all parts of Wales. We also need to set out our responsibilities in relation to the developing world.
We seek a society that is aware of the consequences of human activity on the planet, and are willing to change their habits to lessen this impact. Resources are limited, and we have a duty to protect and preserve our planet for the next generation. Our local environment is intrinsic to our overall happiness and as such we need to promote ideas that protect the environment and ensure a better quality of life for everyone. We need community action to combat climate change and the damage we are inflicting on the planet.
We seek a society based on social justice. We need to develop ideas and policies that benefit the many and not the few. This must focus on providing quality public services and approaches to regulation that ensure equality of opportunity in life, be it through education, health or employment. It must also focus on targeting efforts to eradicate real social deprivation, to bring all people to a level of life chances that one would expect in a decent, civilised society. Building a more just society must embrace a desire to promote values of trust, reciprocity, neighbourliness and a respect for the needs of the community as much as the individual.
We seek a society based on promoting individual freedom. We need to think through ideas and policies that recognise people’s desire for choice, their desire to meet individual needs, and people’s aspirations to maximise their own personal potential. This must focus on thinking through an agenda for economic and public service development that seeks to combine effective provision for the whole community with the stimulus for individual endeavour, responsibility and flourishing. Building a more free society must embrace a desire to promote respect for the individual as much as for the community.
Ultimately we seek a society that is happier. We need to address the balance to be struck in economic and social development between different notions of progress to ensure that we don’t achieve hollow victories: rises in economic wealth, reductions of poverty, or promotion of individual freedom that, nevertheless, leave people less happy. Building a happier society must embrace a desire to face up to uncomfortable truths about the side-effects of apparent progress.
The opportunity to make Wales a better place
Ideas developed and accepted by the editorial board in the context of the think tank will be debated and challenged by members of the Labour Party and others and may ultimately contribute to practical public policy in Wales.