The Labour Party Annual Conference 2023
SME4Labour, Scientists for Labour and Labour Foreign Policy Group fringe: Britain Reconnected for Pandemic Preparedness
🗓 Date: Wednesday,11 October 2023
⏳ Time: 11:00
📍Location: SME4Labour POD (Meeting Room 22), ACC Liverpool, Kings Dock Street, Liverpool, England, L3 4FP
SME4Labour, Scientists for Labour and Labour Foreign Policy Group fringe: Britain Reconnected for Pandemic Preparedness with Wayne David MP, Shadow Minister for Middle East and North Africa; Evie Aspinall, British Foreign Policy Group, Zander Woollcombe, Pandemic Action Network and Clara Collingwood, COVIS-19 Bereaved Families for Justice. This panel discussion was chaired by Dr Ines Hassan, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
Dr. Ines Hassan directed a question to Evie Aspinall, focusing on the need for longer-term thinking and building resilience to prevent and respond to pandemics. Evie emphasized the challenge of achieving long-term thinking in policy, especially in foreign policy. She highlighted the UK’s leadership in health science and the importance of health as a soft power asset, given the global shift towards emphasizing hard power.
Zander Woollcombe addressed the question of how Britain can collaborate with international partners to enhance global pandemic preparedness and coordinate responses. He acknowledged that the UK’s international partnership in COVID was lacking and stressed the importance of a more resilient system with regional vaccine manufacturing and improved surveillance. Zander emphasized the need for sustained political will and global engagement to tackle pandemics, urging the UK to take a more active role.
Dr. Ines Hassan turned to Wayne David MP, inquiring about leveraging soft power and building alliances in the Middle East and North Africa. Wayne David highlighted the challenge of government departmentalism and the need for an integrated approach in modern government. He emphasized the importance of mutual respect and recognition in international relationships and the devaluation of Britain’s engagement in the Middle East. Wayne stressed the necessity of a coherent approach for government, with pandemic preparedness being a vital component.
In summary, the discussion highlighted that COVID-19 exposed the unpreparedness of the UK, leading to a call for a more comprehensive government approach to pandemic preparedness. It also emphasized the importance of long-term thinking, the role of health as a soft power asset, and the need for better international collaboration and sustained political engagement to address global pandemics. Lastly, the importance of an integrated approach and coherent government strategy for the Middle East and North Africa, including pandemic preparedness, was underscored.