Second Future Politics Conference

27 November 2023 - by Gráinne Walsh

Along with the John and Pat Hume Foundation, Stratagem has delivered its second successful Future Politics: Delivering Effective Government Conference.

The all-day event which took place at University of Ulster’s Belfast campus last Friday brought together politicians, policymakers and other stakeholders to discuss how to make our politics and institutions more sustainable. The event was Chaired by journalist and author, Stephen Walker, and Former Deputy First Minister for Scotland, John Swinney MSP, delivered the keynote address.

Areas of discussion included:

• Alternative budget for Northern Ireland: Reimagining public finances
• The best of both worlds? A new dawn for NSEW relations
• Supporting better politics: partnership, challenges and impact
• Frameworks for governing: optimising delivery through structures
• Political Panel: turning ideas into actions

Speakers included Sir Robert Chote (NI Fiscal Council); Jess Sargeant (Institute for Government); Tina McKenzie (FSB Policy and Advocacy Chair); Chris Conway (Translink); Róisín Wood (Community Foundation NI), Jackie King (IBEC Global); and Suzanne Wylie (NI Chamber of Commerce).

We will soon be publishing a report on the conference with next steps building on the conversations and had and ideas shared on the day.

The event also saw the publication of a new report by Carnegie UK, produced in partnership with Ipsos, which highlights how extremely low levels of faith in politics and governmental institutions in Northern Ireland are harming overall levels of wellbeing.

Carnegie UK Director of Policy and Research Jennifer Wallace said:

“Our new research shows that faith in politics and important institutions – what we call democratic wellbeing – is extremely low in Northern Ireland.

“This is perhaps unsurprising given the status of the Executive. But the consequences are wide-reaching. Not only does this trend pull down overall wellbeing scores in NI, it may also have consequences in other areas of people’s lives. If people stop engaging in public decision-making, the quality of those decisions are likely to suffer, leading to public services which don’t meet their needs.

“At Carnegie UK, we believe that all spheres of government need to put wellbeing at the centre of their decision-making. In a Northern Ireland context, that would mean a re-established executive putting wellbeing metrics and outcomes at the heart of how it operates.”

Tim Attwood of the John and Pat Hume Foundation said:

“The John and Pat Hume Foundation is delighted to work with Stratagem and other partners for the second Future Politics Conference.

The Hume Foundation is committed to create positive opportunities for constructive and conversations about our political and policymaking structures that can deliver better outcomes for people, communities and businesses.”

Director of Stratagem, Gráinne Walsh said:

“25 years since the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, within the context of post-Brexit relationships across these Island, it is timely that we reflect on the political architecture and relationships that underpin our institutions.

“The findings published by Carnegie UK come as no surprise, however the fact that such low levels of trust in our politics can impact on wellbeing of citizens highlights the importance of a political system that works for everyone.

“Over the past year, we have convened a series of conversations exploring the possibility and potential of this region. We hope that the event will bring about constructive ideas that politicians, policy makers, and the broader stakeholder community can support.”

Future Politics is a partnership between the John and Pat Hume Foundation and political consultancy, Stratagem. The conference is supported by Ulster University, Boston College, Carnegie UK, Community Foundation, IBEC Global and the Department of Foreign Affairs.