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Speaking to Bright Blue, the independent think tank that seeks to defend and improve liberal society, the former Business Secretary and outgoing MP Rt Hon Greg Clark, has said the Conservative Party needs to stop creating dividing lines and instead focus on “no politics” as “the best politics” to improve the Conservative Party’s electoral fortunes.

Bright Blue interviewed the former Chair of the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee as part of the new edition of its Centre Write magazine, released today, to discuss the risks and opportunities from AI and the future of the Conservatives.

In the interview, the Rt Hon Greg Clark said:

“General election years are prone to this, but deliberately creating dividing lines is not the best way to proceed, either politically or for the purpose of being in office. At a time when the country has undergone so many traumas, from COVID-19 to the cost of living crisis that came from Russia and Ukraine and the fragmentation and disputes over Brexit, I sense that the country would respond well to an approach of bringing people together again, rather than to look for dividing lines.

“I don’t think that looking to emphasise differences and disagreements is the way to success. I think competence and capability and seriousness of purpose and an instinct to bring people together are the qualities of leadership that the electorate will look for in the election.”

He discussed the potential for AI to make us more human:

“At its best, AI will release us. We will have more time in the working day and for leisure. David Ricardo talked about comparative advantage and that the comparative advantage of humans is their sociability, their connectedness and the creativity that comes from that, whereas the comparative advantage of machines is automating the more routine and the less creative aspects. So, in that sense, AI is an important opportunity.”

He expressed disagreement with the need for the UK to align with the EU on AI regulation:

“The top-down approach that the EU is taking – requiring everything to be assessed in advance for risk, and taking a very legislative heavy approach – may actually be quite chilling to the innovation that I still think we need to have.”

 

In his article, Ryan Shorthouse, Executive Chair of Bright Blue, said:

“With nearly 100 Tory MPs stepping down, many veteran ministers, we have reached the end of an era. The heady days of the Coalition – with exciting and effective centre-right policy agendas being executed, from free schools to Universal Credit – seem a very long time ago. The Tories will need to rediscover that reforming zeal and good governance quickly, if they are going to have the opportunity to hold red boxes again anytime soon.”

 

In his Centre Write article, the Rt Hon Robert Buckland, former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, argued for greater public and private sector cooperation on AI regulation:

“In our divisive political age, it is vital that those in positions of power do not seek to benefit from the liar’s dividend: objective truth still exists online.

“A partnership between government and the private companies … will be key to tackling deepfakes and to fairly and effectively regulating AI more generally.

“We should all be questioning the content we see online …we should take the time to pause when viewing a video or looking at an image, especially in times of heightened tension or insecurity, consider the content’s source and verify it through a trusted, fully transparent alternative when necessary.”

 

The Rt Hon Chloe Smith, former Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, emphasised that the UK’s current electoral law should be careful not impinge on individual choice:

“It is for people to choose according to their own preferences, and not for the law to dictate what they ought to prefer. In the elections of 2024, with more fake content than ever before, this will not be easy … but the only effective answer is to re-emphasise people’s free judgement and choice.”

 

Tom Watson, Chair of UK Music and former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, outlines why the music industry needs protecting from AI:

“It is vital to distinguish between AI generating and creating new music; it is capable of the former, but not the latter.”

“We need the Government to ensure AI technologies have the appropriate guard rails to allow its development in a positive way that does not undermine artistic talent or erode successful UK businesses, but instead helps them grow… Practical solutions include protecting the unassailable right of creators to decide if and how their work can be used, underpinned by existing copyright rules; proper record keeping so creators who have given consent know how and where music ingested by AI is used; proper labelling so everyone knows where music has been generated via AI; and protections for the personality and image rights of songwriters and artists.”

 

This edition of Bright Blue’s Centre Write magazine also includes contributions from Baroness Joanna Shields (Former Minister for Internet Safety and Security) Professor Larissa Suzuki (Google’s youngest technical director), Kenneth Cukier (Deputy Executive Editor at The Economist) and Gerard Grech (Managing Director of Founders at the University of Cambridge).

 

ENDS

 Notes to editors:

To arrange an interview with a Bright Blue spokesperson or for further media enquiries, please contact our Senior Communications and External Affairs Officer, Emily Taylor, at emily@brightblue.org.uk or on 07841419316.

  • Bright Blue is the independent think tank and pressure group for liberal conservatism.
  • This interview is part of the new edition of Bright Blue Centre Write magazine edited by Sarah Kuszynski and Emily Taylor.
  • Bright Blue’s Board includes Diane Banks, Philip Clarke, Alexandra Jezeph, Richard Mabey and Ryan Shorthouse.
  • Our advisory council can be found here. We also have 228 parliamentary supporters. Members of our advisory council and our parliamentary supporters do not necessarily endorse all our policy recommendations, including those included in this press release.

[Image: Emily Taylor]