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Bright Blue’s Drinks Tanks are an opportunity to meet, drink and discuss ideas, and last night’s event with George Freeman MP was no exception.

The Minister for Life Sciences opened with the compelling thesis that New Labour ‘inverted the pyramid’, moving Britain from a society with entry for all at the bottom, and an accountable and admired few at the top to one where entry into society is difficult, and dominated by an unelected elite.  This theme of an ‘unelected elite’ continued throughout the evening, and it was Freeman’s central argument that New Labour broke the contract between the people and those who governed, leading to what many of us experienced on the doorsteps in 2010 & 2015; an outpouring of anger and disgust with the political classes as a whole.

One of the consequences of this broken contract – Mr Freeman believes – is the reduction in social mobility in recent years. But how should we respond?  What is the liberal conservative approach to driving social mobility?

Mr Freeman argued that to reverse the trends in social mobility, liberate our economy and drive opportunity, we need to unlock innovation in the public and private sector.  He was clear that this was not about privatisation, rather releasing public sector enterprise.

He spoke passionately about the need for more innovation and more start-ups in society, and listed proudly the impressive statistics showing the UK has a higher proportion of female and ethnic minority entrepreneurs that the United States. Unleashing enterprise is the way to smash welfare dependency, improve equality and improve our GDP.

“But why should the private sector have all the fun?” he asked.  Our public sector is in need of entrepreneurs if it is to survive and thrive, and he spoke of a system in which successful hospitals can run less successful ones, and where chief executives of public services can keep a percentage of the savings they make for reinvestment.

With annualised budgets, centralised control and a ‘use or lose’ philosophy the odds are stacked against public sector enterprise.  But George Freeman is right; how we unlock this is one of the most significant challenges of this parliament.

Corinna Peachey is an Associate at Bright Blue.