July 5, 2024

A Government on a Mission: what might a Labour Government mean for Collective Wellbeing?

by Hannah Paylor, Carnegie UK

I was five years old when the Labour Party, led by Tony Blair, defeated John Major and the Conservative Party in the 1997 election. Between obsessing over the Spice Girls and checking my Tamagotchi, I vaguely remember a conversation leading up to the General Election about ‘these men on the telly that everyone is talking about’ with other kids on my street in North Shields, North Tyneside. This is my earliest memory of politics and democracy.

It was not until 2010 when I was 17 – and a month too young to vote – that the Labour Party’s three-term premiership ended. David Cameron and the Conservatives won the election, forming a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

During their 13 years in power, the last Labour Government notably introduced the National Minimum Wage, established over 2000 Sure Start Children’s Centres, and devolved power to a new Parliament in Scotland and an Assembly in Wales. Those constitutional reforms and policies that invested for the longer term went some way to tackling poverty, promoting dialogue, and creating new mechanisms to enable local decision making: three influential enablers of collective wellbeing.

In 2010 – the same year the Conservative Party was elected – David Cameron stated a commitment to improving the nation’s collective wellbeing and to measuring it “not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving; not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life”. Yet today, as people across the country wake to the news of a new party of Government, it’s clear that we are still far away from that reality:

  • The UK has record levels of people facing hardship: between April 2023 and March 2024, over 3 million emergency food parcels were distributed by the Trussell Trust.
  • 2 million children and 2.1 million pensioners are living in poverty.
  • 52% of people report low levels of trust in the UK Government.

This evidence underlines the scale of the challenge facing the incoming Labour government in the months ahead. It also demonstrates why a fresh approach to governing is urgently needed. At Carnegie UK, we welcome and support the new Prime Minister’s stated commitment to leading a mission-driven government – one that’s focused on longer-term, measurable outcomes that could turn the tide on inequality and restore public faith in democracy.

Delivered properly, a mission-led government is a wellbeing-focused government. Both focus on a vision and key outcomes that the government wants to help achieve for the people of the UK. And both transform a challenge – of which there are currently plenty – into an opportunity for collaborative work across departments, agencies and sectors to deliver change for those who most need it.

So, what will today’s five-year-olds and 17-year-olds remember this new 2024 Labour Government for? These were the babies, just a year old at the start of the pandemic and the young people who spent much of their early teenage years separated from their families and friends. We hope they’ll look back on this government as one that put collective wellbeing at the heart of decision making.


Copr: Keir Starmer meets with members of the public in Staffordshire.  Picture by Keir Starmer, Flickr. Carnegie UK green colour tint added plus the name of our blog: What does a Labour Government mean for Collective Wellbeing?