Charlie Edwards
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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, governments across the globe have struggled to keep up with the growth and complexity of the challenges facing them. This government is no exception and finds itself exposed to changes across a global system that often reverberate unpredictably throughout British society.

This global interconnectedness makes it harder for governments to predict and intervene in social and economic problems. Today cartoons shown in Danish newspapers create civil unrest on the streets of London, drugs from the poppy fields of Afghanistan lead to violence on Glasgow estates, and regional instability in the Middle East raises the price of petrol in the UK.

While departments have begun to develop a more joined-up approach to this interconnected world, there has been no obvious impact to Britain’s archaic security architecture and systems. Without a strategic framework for departments and agencies to operate within, Whitehall continues to suffer from a duplication of resources, mixed messages from politicians and infighting between departments – all of which makes the system more opaque, both for those people who work in it and for citizen.

To cut through this complexity and help the government respond to the plethora of challenges facing the UK, at home and abroad, the government should develop a national security strategy. A strategy would aim to:

  • articulate a vision of the current and future security environment
  • communicate Britain’s values in the twenty-first century
  • develop a framework for collaboration across government on national security policy and identify policy areas where departments and agencies can be more efficient and effective in working together
  • prioritise national security policies and initiatives and the allocation of resources
  • bring together the plethora of departmental white papers on national and international security.