“Tomorrow will be a better day.”
Words of comfort from the late Captain Sir Tom Moore that will inspire a nation in the days to come.
The news of his passing hit me harder than I had any reason to expect. I admired him greatly for the life he led and the dignified positivity and optimism that he imbued. But it was in his passing that the sense of his huge symbolic importance really did hit home.
His was a story of a life in service and it was in his final year that this fable became the stuff of modern legend. To have been taken by the enemy that until his last he sought to protect us from makes him a hero of our times who will live on in the memory.
And what should we do with his example? What in this dark winter of despair can we do?
The answer is that we can prepare. We can begin the process of making sure that tomorrow is that better day.
The pace of the vaccine roll out is the first stage of that rebound. It is something around which we can all be proud. Every day hundreds of thousands of lives are taken out of the risk of immediate danger. And every day we get closer to taking back our lives.
The fear is that by the time this happens that the muscle of commerce will have been weakened to such an extent that the consequence of Corona will have worn out its ability to bounce back.
But if business knows about one thing it is how to turn obstacles into opportunity. It is why Britain needs a passion project to get itself ready for what comes next. Getting belief that we can do it back in business needs to become the clarion call. A fiercely urgent moment for right now.
A government source suggested to the Times earlier this month that the initial vaccination programme might be completed by May.
If true, we may well soon look back at the dystopian world of today as more of a memory than a continuum. So what we do with the next 100 days really does matter.
And signals abound. Like the great Captain perhaps more quietly expressed but determinedly hopeful.
Despite all that we are living through ONS data shows in 2020’s final quarter, 24 per cent more businesses were set up compared with the same period a year earlier. For many starting up has been an economic necessity and for many it will go on to become a way of life.
In turn, the latest Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of England predicts that effects of the vaccine will encourage GDP to “recover rapidly” towards pre-Covid levels over 2021. It has led the governor, Andrew Bailey, to speak of “a sustained recovery throughout the rest of the year”.
These are the oft quoted green shoots, which follow the proverbial forest fire. We don’t like chaos and the human experience is to order it and to build things from it and that is where business comes in.
I interviewed the economist Jim O’Neill recently and he made the point that the vaccine response to the pandemic should embolden us. That the collaboration between public and private could see us create new accelerated solutions to some of the worlds most intractable problems. Top of his mind was climate and the opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurial solutions.
Other areas will no doubt dominate our post-lockdown and ultimately post-pandemic world. Health security will be top of mind and it will be innovative sectors like health tech that will provide many new and as yet unforeseen solutions.
With a budget on the horizon, the Chancellor could do much to catalyse the UK economy and to accelerate its renewal. It was the Marshall Plan that renewed and reinvented the battered post war Europe of Sir Tom’s generation. We need that same sense of can-do ambition and action today.
All of this and more is the prize to prepare for. To ensure we emerge as architects of our future not victims of our past.
Today we live with the menace of mutations and the evisceration of economies. But what of tomorrow?
Now more than ever heed the words of one of our country’s finest. Tomorrow will be a better day.