Those of you that are avid readers of the FT may have spotted James Crabtree’s piece today announcing a forthcoming “Viking invasion” of Downing Street. Before anyone gets too many ideas, I have it on good advice that the Swedish Prime Minister will not be turning up in a longboat. But turning up he will be, alongside a rather more post-modern cast of movers and shakers from the eight Nordic and Baltic countries. The only things that will be stormed will be brains.
Some stereotypes may however prove helpful. This is a very different kind of event and the idealised Nordic informality is hard-wired into both the format and the intent of the meeting. I can’t myself think of anything else like it. The five Nordic heads of state and government will be joined by David Cameron and their three Baltic counterparts but also by an array of businesspeople, policy-thinkers, entrepreneurs and social innovators for a day of interactive discussion.
The format will be more Californian than Baltic, with rapid-fire parallel presentations in adjoining rooms and the participants will move backwards and forwards around the event contributing ideas, listening to feedback and helping shape thinking. The aim is to proliferate great ideas for promoting not just GDP but also General Wellbeing. And unlike most diplomatic encounters, the ideas and the networks – rather than a tortuous communiqué drafted by wonks like me – will be the outcome. In any event it’s something new, ambitious and creative. And something, I suspect, that may grow legs of its own, get up and walk.
The Swedes are better known today for social entrepreneurship than coastal raiding, looting and pillaging. Move over, Hägar the Horrible.