“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.
Policy Exchange’s History Matters project was established in June 2020 to address widespread national concern about the growing trend to alter public history and heritage without due process. Through the regularly updated History Matters compendium, we have been documenting attempts at historical re-interpretation and re-invention, gathering evidence about the processes by which changes to the national teaching and display of history have been made.
It is time for a new approach to social mobility. For the past 20 years it has focused too much on the “long” mobility of sending people from disadvantaged backgrounds to elite universities and into the higher professions. That is a desirable goal but for social mobility to be fit for the levelling up era it needs to be relevant to a much more broader group of people, and needs to focus on the supply of decent jobs for a range of talents and aptitudes and not just reorder the queue for entry into the professional elite.
At an ‘in conversation’ event hosted by Policy Exchange at this year’s Conservative Party Conference, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care insisted that investment was required to tackle the challenges facing the NHS, but it would only come with reform. Uncontroversial, surely? Yet this week’s announcement of a new package of funding proved anything but, with the £250m ‘Winter Access Fund’ – the first test of Javid’s model – landing at the epicentre of a febrile media debate around access to general practice, where emotion and opposition has begun to dominate over evidence and consensus-building.
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 COVID-19 pandemic has provoked fundamental questions about our health and social care system. Is the current NHS accountability structure the right one for responding to global pandemics? What is the most effective way of protecting and funding those requiring social care? How can we lock in the technological gains from the pandemic? And how should we build hospitals that better serve the needs of the UK population in the 21st century?
Policy Exchange was delighted to welcome Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for a major speech on the future of public health on 18th August.
The Health Secretary, who gave the first speech by a Cabinet minister after the election at Policy Exchange in December, outlined plans for the establishment of a new body – the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP). T
The Government is launching an eight-week consultation on decriminalising BBC licence fee evasion, said the Rt Hon Baroness Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in a speech at Policy Exchange on the Future of Media and Broadcasting. Watch her speech here.
Tuesday, 3 November, 2020
15:30 - 16:15
A keynote speech by H.E. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary of India chaired by Rt Hon Lord Johnson of Marylebone
Monday, 2 November, 2020
10:30 - 11:15
‘Why is our Union special?’ a Keynote Speech by Douglas Ross MP, Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
Douglas Ross MP is the Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. He has served as the MP for his home constituency of Moray since 2017. Prior to this, he represented the Highlands and Islands region as an MSP from 2016 and as a local Moray councillor for 10 years.
Saturday, 3 October, 2020 - Tuesday, 6 October, 2020
12:00 - 11:30
Watch our full programme at 2020 Conservative Party Conference. Including speakers such as Ben Houchen, Lord Agnew, Baroness Finn, Rt Hon Sir David Lidington, Matt Warman MP, Rt Hon Baroness Morgan, Professor Nigel Biggar, Lord Bethell, Rt Hon Dr Therese Coffey MP, Rt Hon Lord Willettts, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon, Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Tom Tugendhat MBE MP, Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP, Lord Caine, Chloe Smith MP, Hon George Brandis QC, Rt Hon Geoffrey Cox QC MP, Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP, Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.