Let’s be clear: those forces have had – and continue to have – an overwhelmingly positive impact on our world.
We can’t deny, as I know you recognise, that there have been downsides to globalisation in recent years, and that – in our zeal and enthusiasm to promote this agenda as the answer to all our ills – we have on occasion overlooked the impact on those closer to home who see these forces in a different light.
These people – often those on modest to low incomes living in rich countries like our own – see their jobs being outsourced and wages undercut. They see their communities changing around them and don’t remember agreeing to that change.
They see the emergence of a new global elite who sometimes seem to play by a different set of rules and whose lives are far removed from their everyday existence.
And the tensions and differences between those who are gaining from globalisation and those who feel they are losing out have been exposed ever more starkly through the growth of social media.
We meet tonight in a world transformed. A year ago, few among us would have predicted the events ahead.
Change is in the air. And when people demand change, it is the job of politicians to respond.
Others have voiced their suspicion of what they see as a growing anti-business agenda. I don’t agree. It is because I believe so passionately in business that I say this.
Asking business to work with Government to play its part is profoundly pro-business, because it is fundamental to retaining faith in capitalism and free markets.