What the vaccine rollout means for NHS accountability

‘The vaccine rollout may show us a model for how a new approach to health service accountability, underpinned by new levers in legislation, will provide stronger political oversight whilst maintaining day to day NHS operational independence in the future,’ writes Richard Sloggett, Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange on Health and Social Care, in a new blog post. Read ithere

In his column for The Daily Mail, Dominic Lawson mentioned the work of the Policy Exchange Health Unit and its recent article published on how the UK’s genomics advances, supported by the Government over the last decade, had helped its pandemic response. Read the column here and the Policy Exchange article here.

Policy Exchange’s History Matters project

Policy Exchange History Matters Project  has released a series of compendiums which investigate attempts to remove certain statues on public display, rename buildings and places, or change the way history is taught in university and school curriculums. Read the compendiums here .

The History Matters Project has welcomed the announcement by Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, that the law will be changed to protect historic statues, plaques, memorials or monuments so that they cannot be removed unless it is decided through a formal planning process. Trevor Phillips, Chair of Policy Exchange’s History Matters Project, was quoted in The Telegraph suggesting the new law ‘may move many to study and reflect on their own histories before rushing to judgement’. Read the story here.  In The Spectator, Dr Zareer Masani, who sits on the advisory panel of the History Matters Project, examines the question: ‘What should we do with controversial monuments?’. Read his piece here

Government Commission on future of the Civil Service

Policy Exchange is delighted to announce a Reform of Government Commission, Chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson, which will examine how the Civil Service can be improved and modernised. Dame Patricia’s overview of the Commission’s work, which argues that “the unprecedented challenges which the UK faces require a fundamental assessment of how best the machinery of government can be envisioned and equipped for the new world,” can be read here

The Reform of Government Commission will go back to first principles and ask: what sort of Civil Service do we want? What should its ethos be? How should accountability be maximised through clearer lines of responsibility? How can it better serve governments of all hues?

We will draw on the expertise of a wide range of leading practitioners. Focus groups, polling and an evidence-gathering “roadshow” will be used to produce authoritative, useful research that leads to better government.

Read more, including a list of all the commissioners involved, here.


Understanding Islamism

Policy Exchange launched a major new project, Understanding Islamism. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP – former Home Secretary and former Communities Secretary – backed the project and emphasised the importance of understanding the strains of thinking that Islamist ideology feeds off. He writes:

“A new project being launched today called Understanding Islamism is a helpful step in that direction. This initiative by Policy Exchange will document emerging trends in Islamist ideology and networks, unpack the meaning of the challenge they represent, and comprehensively explore the policy responses to it across Europe and beyond.”

Headed by Sir John Jenkins – former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and co-author of the Government’s 2015 review on the Muslim Brotherhood – and Dr Martyn Frampton, Understanding Islamism will provide an extensive and evolving documentary record of Islamist pronouncements and activities. This detailed resource will cover Islamist movements and their associated networks, both in the UK, and overseas. Read more here.


Scott Morrison wins inaugural Grotius Prize

Policy Exchange was delighted to award the inaugural Grotius Prize –named after the founding father of international law, Hugo Grotius — to Hon Scott Morrison MP, the Prime Minister of Australia. This was in recognition of his work in support of the international rules-based order. The event was streamed live from London and Canberra.

A keynote speech from the Australian Prime Minister was followed by remarks from Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, with a Vote of Thanks by Hon Alexander Downer AC,  Chairman of Trustees at Policy Exchange and former Foreign Minister of Australia.

The Australian Prime Minister welcomed the “timely publication by Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission, A Very British Tilt: Towards a new UK strategy in the Indo-Pacific Region”. On this Commission’s core proposal for Britain to increase the priority accorded, toward the Indo-Pacific, Scott Morrison remarked: “I couldn’t agree more and have conveyed the same to Boris. I endorse the report’s vision for a reinvigorated community of free and independent nations with a single overriding goal. Namely, reinforce a sustainable rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific that is resilient but adaptable to the great power realities of the 21st century.”

Watch the event here and read our report here.

Union Connectivity Review mirrors Policy Exchange proposals

The Government has announced a review of transport connectivity across the UK, in order to understand how it can support economic development and improve quality of life. The terms of reference emphasise “transport connectivity between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland via road, rail and air, and across the Irish Sea.” The announcement mirrors proposals in Policy Exchange’s 2019 report, Modernising the United Kingdom, which recommended that the Government should “announce a review of transport connections between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, focusing on air travel, sea travel and the capacity of road networks around airports and seaports” and that ministers should “lead a strategic infrastructure strategy to improve the economic connections between all parts of the country to reduce the disparities […]”. Read the report here.

Policy Exchange is ‘pre-eminent think tank in Westminster,’ says Iain Dale

“If anyone was to draw up a list of the top twenty most influential think tanks in Westminster, can anyone seriously doubt that Policy Exchange would be at number one?” That’s the verdict of Iain Dale in the LBC presenter’s latest column for Conservative Home. He calls Policy Exchange “the pre-eminent think tank in the Westminster village” and notes our unique convening power, saying: “There are few organisations that could attract power players like Mark Carney and Alan Greenspan, or Dominic Raab and Mike Pompeo to appear on its platforms.”

Policy Exchange hosts Prime Minister for the launch of the authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher

Dean Godson, Director of Policy Exchange, was delighted to welcome the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, to the official launch of the final volume of Charles Moore’s authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, Herself Alone.

The event, hosted by Policy Exchange, was the Prime Minister’s first visit to a think tank since he took office. It was attended by some of the surviving dramatis personae from the Thatcher era and other senior figures from the world of politics, journalism and public life.

The Prime Minister praised the biography, saying, it is “not just the greatest recent work of biography but… also, in our lifetimes, the greatest work of modern British history”. Charles Moore, the author of the 20-year project, is a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange and was previously Chairman of the Trustees. Watch the video of the speeches on YouTube

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

Manifesto wins

Policy Exchange was delighted that the party election manifestos reflected the priorities of our cross-party research since the last general election (and even earlier). Ideas from at least 24 papers were contained in the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green 2019 manifestos – from social care to education, farming to judicial power. Explore the infographic showing which ideas were adopted by the different parties here.

Ten Ways to Improve the Overseas Operations Bill


This short paper sets out ten ways in which the Overseas Operations Bill could be amended to improve its effectiveness and to minimise the risk of unintended consequences. None of the proposed changes are wrecking amendments. Like many parliamentarians, we share the concern about the way in which the law has been applied to UK forces and about the risks that litigation may pose to the UK’s capacity to defend itself. But legislation to correct these problems must be carefully framed. The ten changes we propose for Parliament’s consideration (the first two of which are alternatives to each other) would, in our view, help to minimise the objections that have been made to the Bill while improving the Bill’s effectiveness as a means to secure the Government’s intended policy.

Grasping the Nettle


The evolving Austrian debate on Islamism – reflecting in turn a growing public understanding of the issues over the last decade – continues to be of great interest to anyone concerned with the future of a liberal democratic state system. In France, the Macron government has been spurred into action by acts of terror. In Italy successive governments have for years used their long experience with combating organised crime to remove Islamist hate-preachers and others who undermine social cohesion with admirable expedition. In Germany concern about Islamism is at last gaining traction beyond the intelligence agencies. But it is in Austria over the last three years that the public and now governmental focus on the subject has in some ways been most sustained and instructive.

The Case for Reforming Judicial Review

This paper is the text of a submission made on behalf of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project to the Independent Review of Administrative Law. It complements the related submission made by Sir Stephen Laws. Since its foundation, a little over five years ago, Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project has argued that the inflation of judicial power unsettles the balance of our constitution and threatens to compromise parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, and effective government. While the inflation has in part been a function of human rights law and European integration, the Project has consistently argued that it also arises in the context of “ordinary” judicial review and statutory interpretation – a number of high-profile cases decided between 2015 and 2020 confirm the point.

Supreme Court Reform

In the wake of our August paper, Reforming the Supreme Court, Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project is pleased to publish a new symposium on Supreme Court reform, in which distinguished legal commentators engage with the question of how and by whom appellate authority should be exercised.

UK Diverges from Allies in Treatment of Islamic Relief Worldwide

The UK’s Charity Commission has issued a press release on Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) concerning its investigation into that organisation, following allegations of anti-Semitism involving several members of IRW’s leadership. Officially registered to an address in Birmingham, but operating throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, IRW has faced a number of recent allegations of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, and of members of its leadership promoting anti-Semitism, and of having “glorified terrorist attacks on Israel”.  In its press release, the Charity Commission stated that individuals from IRW’s leadership had made social media posts, “which ran contrary to the charity’s code of conduct and fell far below the standard the public expect of charity trustees and staff.” However, the Charity Commission further stated:

Biden’s new Asia tsar understands the China challenge

Among Democrats, there is no American who knows more about Asia and is better known in Asia than Kurt Campbell. The news in recent days that President Joe Biden has appointed him as Co-ordinator for the Indo-Pacific, a new role within the National Security Council, is therefore very welcome. Campbell has effectively become Biden’s Asia tsar.

The appointment is good news for the UK and for the broader Western alliance. Campbell has a long history of engagement with Asia in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. He is credited with authoring Obama’s “pivot” to Asia and is considered to be a tough foreign policy realist who understands the shifting power dynamics of the Indo-Pacific region – and how America can work with allies to manage them. That is, after all, the single greatest foreign policy challenge facing the incoming Biden administration.

Online Harms Bill reflects Policy Exchange proposals

A new Online Harms Bill, unveiled this week, includes measures that will force social media companies to delete harmful content or face fines of up to 10 per cent of their turnover and adopt a new code of conduct to protect children on the internet. The legislation builds on recommendations made in Policy Exchange’s 2017 report, The New Netwar, which called for ministers to “put in place a system of financial penalties, administered by the independent regulator, to force company compliance” and urged the adoption of a “more stringent codes of conduct”.

Policy win with MOD’s new Office of Net Assessment

In a recent speech the Defence Secretary, Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, announced the creation of a “Secretary of State’s Office of Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC)” encompassing war gaming, doctrine, red teaming and external academic analysis. Standing up a UK Office of Net Assessment reporting directly to the Defence Secretary – modelled on the Pentagon’s ONA – was the main recommendation of Policy Exchange’s 2018 report, A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment, authored by Gabriel Elefteriu, with a Foreword by General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, former Chief of the Defence Staff. The draft report’s reviewers included Air Marshal Ed Stringer, Director General of the UK Defence Academy and Joint Force Development who will now oversee the establishment of SONAC; and Professor John Bew, the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser for Foreign Affairs who is leading a No10 taskforce on the Government’s Integrated Review.

Sir Stephen Laws invited to help review the Human Rights Act

Policy Exchange congratulates Sir Stephen Laws KCB, QC (Hon), Senior Research Fellow in our Judicial Power Project and former First Parliamentary Counsel, on his appointment to serve on the independent panel to review the Human Rights Act 1998. The panel, chaired by Sir Peter Gross, former Lord Justice of Appeal, is to consider the Act’s operation over the past twenty years and the case for structural reform. In a lecture on the day of the panel’s announcement, Sir Peter referred to Policy Exchange’s work on Supreme Court reform, noting the foreword written by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, former Chief Justice of England and Wales. Sir Stephen’s many publications for Policy Exchange on constitutional matters include this jointly authored submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Read details of the announcement here.

  • Tuesday, 26 January, 2021
    10:30 - 11:30

The UK’s Net Zero target requires all sectors of the economy to decarbonise, particularly electricity, transport, heating, and industry. At this event, the panel will discuss the main elements of the UK Government’s recent Energy White Paper, including any areas where the Government could have gone further.

  • Monday, 18 January, 2021
    13:00 - 14:00

Cities around the world have been shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic. Commuters have stayed at home; shops and restaurants have been forced to close. Policy Exchange’s Liveable London Unit is therefore being relaunched at a time of crisis. Will the deserted streets of our cities come back to life in 2021 – or are cities as we knew them gone for good? The Chair of the Advisory Council of the Liveable London Unit, Professor Ed Glaeser, Professor of Economics at Harvard University and author of Triumph of the City is one of the world’s foremost urban economists and best placed to offer an authoritative answer.

  • Tuesday, 15 December, 2020
    15:00 - 16:00

Policy Exchange invites you to the launch of What’s Wrong with Rights? by Nigel Biggar. Speakers: Professor Nigel Biggar Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Lord Sumption former Justice of the Supreme Court John Larkin QC former Attorney General for Northern Ireland

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