Identity and influence

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Richard Hyde

January 19, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at how the rule of law could strengthen British national identity and maintain UK soft power.

This report from Social Market Foundation think-tank looks present steps to restabilising the rule of law in the UK, to strengthen internal unity and ensuring that it remains a key “soft power” asset for the UK. Our shared idea of the nation and its values is under mounting pressure as identities fragment, not least around Scottish nationalism. And our role in the world is in flux in the context of Asia’s rising power, new wars, economic challenge and technological change. These challenges are complex, but Britain’s long history of the rule of law is a unique offer that can address both our mounting internal and external challenges. However, the rule of law is at risk. Our survey findings show that whilst the vast majority see its value to the economy and society, only 16% of Britons view the rule of law as an important emblem of British identity. The court system’s mounting failures are also a growing risk to the UK’s international reputation. To address the crisis of faith in the rule of law, we recommend the following: 1) Develop a UK-wide understanding of the rule of law 2) Reinvigorate citizenship education by teaching young people about the central role the law plays in their nation’s life 3) Reduce the “civil justice gap” in England and Wales by improving access to the civil courts for individuals, families and businesses through making them world-leading by 2030. 4) Transform the efficacy and efficiency of the criminal courts in England and Wales, such that they become world-leading by 2030.