“No other think tank has such timing and indeed connections.” That is the opinion of Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP about Policy Exchange. Wallace was giving the Vote of Thanks on 10 January Falklands Margaret Thatcher Day Lecture by Charles Moore – Policy Exchange Visiting Scholar, Baroness Thatcher’s authorised biographer and former Daily Telegraph Editor. The event marked the fortieth anniversary of the Falklands War. In his lecture Moore reflected upon Thatcher as war leader and the continuing lessons we can draw from the events of 1982.
In his remarks Wallace underlined that Britain still needs to stand up to our adversaries. He stated: “Our enemies should not doubt Britain’s determination to stand up to bullies, to defend those that cannot defend themselves and our values. History is littered with the consequences of those that underestimated this small island.”
Wallace’s comments were reported on by the Telegraph and Sun. Hon Leona Roberts MLA, Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly – speaking via a live link from Port Stanley – shared her childhood remembrances of 1982. Moore’s lecture was later replayed in the Islands’ cinema.
Excessive noise poses a real and serious risk to human health. Polling of Londoners by Deltapoll for Policy Exchange shows that only eight per cent of the city’s inhabitants report never being bothered by noise. Only 24 per cent of Londoners would be happy for noise to return to pre-pandemic levels. If this is to be avoided, now is the time that action on noise needs to be taken. To help curb noise levels, Turning Down the Volume recommends: an increase in the planting of street trees, testing to see if the dB levels of sirens could be reduced without harming their efficacy; the Metropolitan Police Service invest in drone technology that would allow them to reduce the use of helicopters over London; and bringing in higher fines for breaching Public Spaces Protection Orders in London. The five most hated noises in London are: Sirens (54%); private motorbikes and scooters (52%); loud music played from vehicles (51%); engine revving (48%); and vehicle alarms (48%). In contrast, Londoners reported enjoying hearing: Wildlife, e.g. bird song (60%); trees rustling (48%); water (48%); children (17%); and church bells (13%).
Policy Exchange’s Re-engineering Regulation project will offer a roadmap for regulatory reform fit for the post-Brexit, post-Covid era. Lord Sedwill will Chair an Advisory Council comprising leading figures from a range of fields whose sector-specific knowledge will help guide the project and its conclusions across a variety of sectors: from small businesses, professional and financial services to the NHS, policing and teaching.
Lord Sedwill has authored an article in The Telegraph to mark the launch of the project, writing that “The UK has the opportunity both to streamline regulation and modernise it to deliver the high environmental and social standards our citizens desire, plus the competitive edge the post-Brexit economy demands. As we enter the post-Brexit, post-Covid era, I hope we can grasp it.”
Policy Exchange’s Stephen Booth set out the aims of the project on Conservative Home.
You can read further details of the Advisory Council and the project’s Introductory report here.
In the first part of an exclusive Policy Exchange interview with Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of the Health Select Committee, Bill Gates warns that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius “will be very difficult”. He says: “I doubt that we’ll be able to achieve that.” The founder of Microsoft says that innovation is the key to breakthroughs on climate change, especially in winning over India and China to the net zero agenda. He also praises the UK’s climate leadership, noting that Britain “gets a very good grade on climate progress” and has been “exemplary” on reducing carbon emissions. Watch a clip here. Two further clips will be released this week and the full interview on Friday.
Lord Frost, the Cabinet Office Minister and former Chief Negotiator for Brexit, has launched a stinging attack on the European Union, warning in a Foreword to a new Policy Exchange paper that it has behaved “without regard to the huge political, economic, and identity sensitivities involved” in Northern Ireland, and “has destroyed cross-community consent” with an overly strict enforcement of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Northern Ireland Protocol: The Origins of the Current Crisis, by Roderick Crawford, is the first authoritative chronology to set out how the UK’s hands have been tied throughout Brexit by flawed decisions made in 2017. It is the story of how the UK got stuck with a protocol that was determined by a one-sided and flawed interpretation of the Belfast Agreement.
Lord Frost writes: “We must return to the Protocol and deliver a more robust, and more balanced, outcome than we could in 2019.”
Writing for The Spectator’s Coffee House, Prof Richard Ekins, Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project, responds to David Davis MP’s critique of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill and argues that on the contrary the Bill is a welcome first step in restoring the balance of our constitution, a balance put in doubt by a decades-long expansion of judicial power. If anything, he says, Parliament should go further and amend the Bill to make it a more effective means to restore the traditional constitution. Read the post on Coffee House and his longer Policy Exchange paper on the same subject.
Americans believe more strongly that the UK-US alliance is a “Special Relationship” than Britons, according to new polling commissioned by Policy Exchange. Among 1712 British voters, YouGov found that only 28 per cent believe the US-UK alliance is a “special relationship” with a much bigger group – 52 per cent – saying no, the US-UK alliance is not really a “Special Relationship”.
However, in the United States, polling of 1000 people by Echelon Insights discovered that a much greater percentage of Americans believe in the Special Relationship.
Six in ten Americans believe the UK and US does have a special relationship and that the US-UK relationship has been a force for good in the world. Read a commentary for Policy Exchange and The Daily Mail by Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Read the full polling details.
Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, was justified in announcing a “statute of limitations, to apply equally to all Troubles-related incidents,” writes Jeff Dudgeon, the Northern Irish politician, historian, and activist, in a new blog post for Policy Exchange.
The consensus around the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, he argues, “was vastly overstated – and the investigations lopsided in a way that undermined it from the start. Victims’ groups were by no means united in support for it, as anyone who went out and spoke to them can attest.” He says Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Minister, was misguided to intervene in a debate about who the UK is prosecuting and also notes the support, albeit reluctant, for the Government’s announcement from Rt Hon Lord Tebbit, who was nearly killed in the Brighton bombing by the IRA in 1984.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, today endorsed the Policy Exchange Reform of Government Commission report Government Reimagined as an ‘excellent report’ following a speech announcing a new Declaration on Government Reform. The speech set out a series of commitments to reform government in the shadow of COVID-19, echoing recommendations made in Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform. These included commitments to implement capability-based pay, to recruit a dedicated Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for all major projects, to introduce training for ministers and to hold Permanent Secretaries to account against their departments’ outcome delivery plans.
Policy Exchange’s Reform of Government Commission, chaired by Dame Patricia Hodgson published its report Government Reimagined: A Handbook for Reform, in May. The report, authored by Policy Exchange’s Head of Technology Policy, Benjamin Barnard, argued that the Government must embark on a comprehensive modernisation and reform programme
Policy Exchange has launched a new research programme, Beyond Cop26, in the run up to the global climate conference that the UK will host in Glasgow in November. The programme is co-chaired by two former Energy Secretaries, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP and Rt Hon Amber Rudd.
The launch report, The UK’s Green USPs, calls on the Government to focus on the UK’s three ‘Green USPs’ to drive global climate action. These are: Science and technology; Financial services; and political leadership on climate action.
Alongside the launch report, the co-chairs have published an opinion piece calling on the G7 to agree a common ‘carbon border adjustment mechanism’ (CBAM) and on the UK Government to implement a California style ‘Zero Emission Vehicle mandate’ to deliver the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Read the opinion piece in Times Red Box and coverage in The Times.
Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom discussed the new programme on Policy Exchange’s podcast, The Exchange. Watch on YouTube or listen on your preferred podcast provider.
Amber Rudd appeared on Times Radio to discuss the research programme and proposals for a California-style Zero Emission Vehicle mandate.
Read the full report here.
Policy Exchange and the Queen’s Speech
The Queen’s Speech, which set out the Government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session, reflected many of Policy Exchange’s research priorities. In economics, the Government’s commitment to increased capital investment reflects recommendations outlined in our report, Why the Government should spend more on capital. On housing, the Government’s planning reforms adopt the Building Beautiful agenda, which began at Policy Exchange, the recommendation for zonal planning permission being proposed in Rethinking the Planning System for the 21st Century. The support for new owners and renters reflects recommendations in Helping Generation Rent Become Generation Buy.
The speech covered central policy recommendations of the Judicial Power Project including legislation to deal with legacy issues from the Troubles in Northern Ireland and a Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill to end the fixed five-year period between general elections. Policy Exchange’s A Very British Tilt presaged the UK’s Integrated Review and argued that trade is central to the Indo-Pacific “tilt”, which was mentioned in the speech with a commitment by the Government to “deepen trade ties in the Gulf, Africa and the Indo-Pacific”. And finally, the importance of Academic Freedom and in particular, freedom of speech on university campuses will be addressed with legislation and the creation of a free speech champion, a policy priority we highlighted in our report Academic freedom in the UK .
Policy Exchange hosted Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India, for a keynote address on India and the United Kingdom in a Post-Covid World. “The Integrated Review locates UK as a Euro-Atlantic actor with an increasing stake in the Indo-Pacific,” said Dr Jaishankar, adding: “This obviously makes it much more relevant to Indian strategic calculations.”
He noted that the recommendations of Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission were “very timely” and, on UK-India relations, said: “Our partnership was even otherwise getting ready for an upgrade; the new context has given it a greater urgency.”
In the Vote of Thanks, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Foreign Secretary, said: “I can’t think of a better and technologically endowed high trust partner than India. So this relationship matters.” Watch the event in full here.
Does work give our lives purpose, meaning and status? Or is it a tedious necessity that will soon be abolished by automation, leaving humans free to enjoy a life of leisure and basic income? Policy Exchange hosted Jon Cruddas MP for the launch of his book The Dignity of Labour and a discussion on these questions with Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, and Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Chaired by Stephen Bush, Political Editor of the New Statesman. “There’s huge amounts of debate about the leaders of the respective parties… but absolutely nowhere, except at Policy Exchange today, is anyone actually digging beneath the surface,” said Lisa Nandy, adding that Jon Cruddas’s book was “the most important contribution to the political debate in the last decade”. Watch the event in full.
In his first public event since publication of the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, Dr Tony Sewell CBE, Commission chair, explained the thinking and evidence behind the report and discussed its main recommendations.
The report, published at the end of March, caused controversy both by stressing ethnic minority success and challenging the conventional wisdom about ethnic group differences being mainly shaped by majority racism. Sewell debated the report, and the often extreme reaction to it, with some of the leading commentators on race and society.
“The report acknowledges that over 50 years things have significantly improved. Second that race is not the only factor in explaining racial disparities and third that some of the best strategies for change is when we find answers for everybody,” he said.
Integrated Review accepts Policy Exchange’s proposals on Indo-Pacific strategy, space and Net Assessment
The Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR), published this week, reflects a broad range of Policy Exchange’s recent research output. Notably, it argues for a “tilt” to the Indo-Pacific, perhaps the most conspicuous grand-strategic decision taken by the British Government in decades, reflecting the framework recommended by Policy Exchange’s Indo-Pacific Commission in A Very British Tilt: Towards a new UK strategy in the Indo-Pacific. The IR – whose lead author, No 10 Special Adviser John Bew, headed Policy Exchange’s Britain in the World Unit until 2019 – also recommends the shaping of a new international order, as argued for in Making Global Britain Work; putting the space domain at the core of the Government’s strategic vision for this country, as recommended by the work of Policy Exchange’s Space Policy Unit; and the adoption of Net Assessment as a cross-government capability, as recommended by A Question of Power: Towards Better UK Strategy Through Net Assessment. Read Alexander Downer, Policy Exchange’s Chairman of Trustees, on the IR in ConservativeHome, listen to him on Times Radio; and read Gabriel Elefteriu, Director of Research and Head of the Space Policy Unit in The Spectator’s Coffee House.
Read Policy Exchange’s Reflections on the Integrated Review here
The Wolfson Economics Prize 2021, launched today in partnership with Policy Exchange, seeks planning and design ideas that will “radically improve” hospital care in the UK and around the world.
The Prize is evidence of a new focus on the long-term improvement in hospital provision in Britain and globally. The UK Government has already announced £3.7 billion of funding towards new hospitals in England for what it calls the “biggest hospital building programme in a generation”.
The judging panel – chaired by Rt Hon Prof Lord Kakkar, Professor of Surgery at University College London, crossbench peer in the House of Lords and Chair of the King’s Fund – will ask entrants for designs and plans for new hospitals that will “radically improve patient experiences, clinical outcomes, staff wellbeing, and integration with wider health and social care”. Entry is free and open to anyone.
Policy Exchange welcomed the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at the History Matters Project Conference. In an hour-long conversation with Trevor Phillips OBE, Chair of the History Matters Project, the Culture Secretary encouraged museums and other institutions not to be “pushed around by noisy campaign groups”.
He said his message to museums, galleries and other institutions was: “Just think as institutions about your wider duty to the nation; your wider duty to conserve and preserve our heritage. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around by the zeitgeist of the day; take a longer-term view of things; make sure you do things in a rigorous way; and understand that your principal duty is to preserve and conserve our heritage.”
He also distinguished between ‘activism’ and ‘debate’ saying his concern “lies in that we avoid the situation where a group of people purport to speak for a larger community and don’t”.
The conference was the first event to bring together leading decision-makers and professionals in the museums and galleries sector and other experts in order to develop new public policy approaches than can be applied broadly.
It included a panel discussion on statues and the public space chaired by Peter Ainsworth, Chair of The Heritage Alliance and another on museums and galleries chaired by Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chair of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Policy Exchange this week published ‘Strong Suburbs’, a report by Dr Samuel Hughes, Senior Fellow, and Ben Southwood, Head of Housing, Transport, and the Urban Space. The report notes that the Government has moved away from ‘top-down’ plans to encourage development in areas with housing shortages. Instead, it argues that a ‘bottom up’ approach driven by local communities will deliver popular and beautiful housing without the need for imposition.
The main proposal would let individual streets vote to give themselves planning permission allowing them to turn themselves from bungalows or semis into terraces
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “Policy Exchange has led the debate on empowering communities, winning support for development, and creating beautiful popular homes. The Government supports enabling communities to set their own rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our cherished local heritage, and Policy Exchange is continuing this vital conversation.”
It’s “plain common-sense and the responsible thing to do” to reject calls for a Scottish independence referendum during the Covid-19 pandemic. That is the verdict of Lord Dunlop, former Minister for Scotland and Northern Ireland – and author of an unpublished Government review on the workings of the Union – in an article for Policy Exchange.
His piece marked the launch of Policy Exchange’s Future of the Union Project – led by Adam Tomkins MSP and Eddie Barnes, a former adviser to Ruth Davidson – which will examine over the coming months how the Union can better work for all its constituent parts.
Lord Dunlop’s article observed that we are experiencing a “watershed moment” and called for new a Union of Co-operation, with “a re-vamped and enhanced Intergovernmental Council” helping to “manage disputes and facilitate joint decision-making”. Read the paper here – and coverage in The Sun here.
Eddie Barnes has written a blog for Policy Exchange on what Unionists can learn from remainers’ errors during the EU referendum. He argues that those that are committed to protecting the Union must also commit to ‘the need for real and lasting reform’ and not ‘phoney change’. Read his blog here.
“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
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.
The Northern Ireland Protocol: The Origins of the Current Crisis, by Roderick Crawford, is the only existing authoritative chronology of the Brexit negotiations and specifically what went wrong in 2017. It argues that commitments, particularly on the Irish border, in the 2017 Joint Report were “a diplomatic triumph for Ireland and the Commission” but that “failing to secure adequate reciprocal concessions was a staggering failure for the UK.” The paper is the story of how the UK got stuck with a protocol that was determined by a one-sided and flawed interpretation of the Belfast Agreement.
Environmental Affairs is Policy Exchange’s quarterly journal, which explores the implications of the growing role of environmental policy. In this edition, Unleashing Climate Capital, our contributors consider policies promoting green investments, including the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investment agenda.
Levelling Up – the vast policy idea driving the whole Government’s agenda – was one area where some clarity emerged during the Conservative Party Conference, particularly during the Prime Minister’s speech and at two fringe events hosted by Policy Exchange – one with Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; and another with Neil O’Brien, who is a new minister in the rebranded department, a former Director of Policy Exchange and the man holding the pen on the forthcoming Levelling Up White Paper.
Just as it seemed that the frenzy to cancel historical figures, bring down statues and rewrite curricula had begun to subside, recent events in Camden suggest that the Black Lives Matter movement may have life in it yet. The past fortnight has seen Camden Council hold official ceremonies to mark the renaming of two council-owned buildings.
The UK’s new National Space Strategy (NSS) comes at a critical juncture as global space competition sharpens and as the Government seeks to define the space dimension of Global Britain. With its vital role in the functioning of modern economies, militaries and many other critical services, space has quietly become a strategic component of national power writ large. It will be decisive to the UK’s fortunes in the decades ahead, both for our prosperity and security – and for Britain’s place and standing in the world.
A new Policy Exchange report published this week, Saving a lost decade, argues that ministers must become directly accountable for tackling the inequalities that have been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper, authored by Richard Sloggett, Health and Social Care Lead, uses modelling to show that the Government is on course to miss a key manifesto pledge to increase healthy life years by five by 2035. Read the report and Foreword by Rt Hon Damian Green MP and Lord Filkin CBE here.
The report featured in The Financial Times, with the recommendations endorsed by Steve Brine MP, former Public Health Minister, during a debate in the House of Commons, which can be viewed here.
Policy Exchange congratulates David Goodhart, our Head of Demography, Immigration & Integration, on his appointment as a Commissioner on the board of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. David will sit on the board for a period of four years. This welcome appointment follows the announcement that Baroness Falkner of Margravine has been nominated to serve as the new Chair of the EHRC. David is the author of Head, Hand, Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Centuryand has recently edited a Policy Exchange report on the technical skills revolution, The Training We Need Now. Read details of the announcement here.
Policy Exchange was delighted to welcome Matthew Pottinger, Deputy National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, for the first of two Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lectures this year. He delivered his lecture, titled “The Importance of Being Candid: On China’s Relationship with the Rest of the World”, in Mandarin, speaking of a “new consensus” in the US, which bridges political divides and unites the whole of society, on the threat posed China’s “technologically enhanced totalitarianism”. Watch the speech here.
Thursday, 11 March, 2021
16:00 - 17:00
The North Sea offers opportunities to decarbonise the UK economy while generating economic benefits for the regions that border it. It’s future development is therefore strategically central to delivering two of the Government’s flagship agendas: Net Zero, and Levelling Up.
Policy Exchange examined these issues in its recent report, The Future of the North Sea. The report found that the basin could generate up to £20bn per year of investment in coastal regions and a net increase of up to 40,000 direct jobs connected to its energy industry.
Panel with Ben Houchen, Melanie Onn, Nicola Shaw CBE, Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Chaired by Benedict McAleenan.
Wednesday, 17 March, 2021
16:30 - 17:30
Policy Exchange hosted the Book launch of ‘This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe’, written by the celebrated author of ‘The English and Their History’ Professor Robert Tombs. ‘This Sovereign Isle’ explains the historical, economic and political origins of Brexit to both Remainers and Leavers, and engages sympathetically if critically with the arguments and fears of both sides – not just Remainers.
With Rt Hon Lord Frost CMG, Rt Hon Lord Mandelson, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Rt Hon Amber Rudd, and Professor Robert Tombs.
Tuesday, 2 March, 2021
13:00 - 17:00
The way in which history is displayed and taught in museums, in galleries and in public spaces is currently a subject of greater contention than ever before.
There is increasing pressure on institutions, on public bodies and on local councils to remove artefacts from public display, or to explain or rename what is there. Through its fortnightly compendium of evidence, the History Matters Newsletter, Policy Exchange has been leading the way in documenting how our shared history is being contested.
Policy Exchange’s March 2021 History Matters Conference is the first event to bring together leading decision-makers and professionals in the museums and galleries sector and other experts in order to develop new public policy approaches than can be applied broadly.