Policy Exchange pays tribute to Sir Roger Scruton

Policy Exchange extends its condolences to Lady Scruton and the family and friends of Sir Roger Scruton, whose death was announced on 12th January. Sir Roger was the greatest conservative philosopher and cultural thinker of our time. In Policy Exchange terms, he was recently the co-author of Building More, Building Beautiful with Jack Airey, our Head of Housing. The report’s findings, which showed that there was broad support for traditional architecture among all social classes in Britain, especially socio-economic groups D and E, changed the national conversation around the importance of beauty in the built environment and led to the Government appointing Sir Roger to chair the official Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, which will report later this year. Sir Roger also delivered the inaugural Colin Amery Memorial Lecture on “The Fabric of the City” here at Policy Exchange in 2018. At a belated celebration of his 75th birthday, Professor Robert Grant, formerly of the University of Glasgow – one of Sir Roger’s closest academic and intellectual partners – delivered a tribute, which we are delighted to publish here with his permission.

Policy Exchange cited nine times in Queen’s Speech debate

Peers debating the Queen’s Speech cited Policy Exchange research nine times in the House of Lords, covering a broad range of recently published research. Supporters and opponents alike acknowledged the influence of Policy Exchange papers such as Protecting the Constitution, a paper by Professor Richard Ekins published in late December. It was described as “the basis” of Government policy on constitutional reform by Lord Thomas of Gresford OBE QC, a Liberal Democrat peer.

Lord Brown of Eaton-Under-Heywood PC, a former Supreme Court Justice and a cross-bencher, recognised the case for a new Treason law, and commended Policy Exchange – an “admirable body” – for its work on the subject, which includes Aiding the Enemy. He also quoted First Hundred Days, a report published last month that set out “quick wins” for the new Government, on the subject of prorogation. Baroness Kennedy, a Labour peer, also mentioned Policy Exchange in reference to the debate over the lawfulness of prorogation. 

Baroness Tyler of Enfield, a Liberal Democrat peer, referred to Whitehall Reimagined and noted that it “rightly points out that recruitment freezes, below-inflation pay rises and major cuts to budgets have put the [Civil Service] under severe strain in the past 10 years”. Lord Faulks QC, a former Minister of State for Justice, praised Policy Exchange for its “continuous work on trying to protect our troops from vexatious claims”. He also referred to the constitutional reform proposals from Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project. Read more in Hansard here.

Matt Hancock speaks at launch of Policy Exchange Health Unit

In the first speech by a Cabinet Minister since the Conservative election victory, the Health Secretary, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, visited Policy Exchange for a keynote speech on nurse recruitment in the NHS – and his vision for UK health care over the coming decade. Watch the speech here. In advance of the event, Policy Exchange published a short paper by Richard Sloggett, our newly appointed Senior Fellow and Health and Social Care lead, examining what the public wants from the new Government on the NHS. It marked the launch of Policy Exchange’s new Health and Social Care Unit. He found increased recruitment of doctors and nurses was the top priority for voters. Read The People’s NHS.

Modernising the UK

The Sun reported that the Government is considering a Department for the Union to strengthen the bonds between the nations, as recommended in Policy Exchange’s Modernising the United Kingdom paper. This follows the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee backing Policy Exchange’s proposals to increase the number of sporting events that must be shown on free-to-air TV, for example women’s national football tournaments and test cricket in Public service broadcasting: as vital as ever.

First 100 Days

Boris Johnson should “seize the moment” and make “quick wins” in a number of key policy areas during his first 100 days to “reform public services and reshape the inner workings of government”, said Hon John Howard OM AC, the former Australian Prime Minister in the Foreword to a new Policy Exchange report. The paper offers ideas from across our research team to provide a blueprint for the new Government to implement some of its key manifesto pledges and other ideas during its first 100 days in office. Read John Howard’s piece for Times Red Box.

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.

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

Justice that protects

Prisons exist to keep the public safe yet in recent years the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service has shown that they are not capable of properly managing the most dangerous offenders. This paper, by Richard Walton – a former Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command – argues that it is time for the Home Secretary, and the Home Office, to supervise prisons as they did until 2007. The Ministry of Justice as it is currently configured should be abolished, with a new Lord Chancellor’s Department replacing it to work solely on courts and justice policy, at the same time enshrining in law and practice the independence of the judiciary.

Whitehall Reimagined

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The Government should use the opportunity of the stability created by the election result to reform the civil service to make it more democratically accountable and better able to deliver on the mandate of the government of the day. Better decision making, streamlined processes and improved accountability will lead to improved policy making and legislation, more effective delivery and improved public services, benefiting every part of the UK.

Protecting the Constitution

The rise of judicial power in the UK in recent years is a striking change in our constitutional arrangements – in how we are governed – a change that threatens good government, parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law. The expansion of judicial power is a function both of Parliament’s decision to confer new powers on courts, most notably by enacting the Human Rights Act 1998, and of the changing ways in which many judges, lawyers and scholars now understand the idea of judicial power. Prof Richard Ekins argues that Parliament is responsible for maintaining the balance of the constitution and should restate limits on judicial power, restoring the political constitution and the common law tradition.

How to transform the Government’s digital leadership

The call from the Prime Minister’s Senior Adviser, Dominic Cummings, for “data scientists, project managers, policy experts and assorted weirdos” has sent heads spinning in Westminster and on Twitter. But what does this mean in practice and where should he start? Well, as Policy Exchange pointed out in Whitehall Reimagined, the Government has a unique opportunity to revitalise its digital leadership. Key to the fulfilment of their digital ambitions will be the appointment of the newly-created Government Chief Digital Information Officer (CDIO).

The free press and the fight against terrorism

Neil Basu, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, head of counter-terror policing, is a man on a mission. It is in many ways a noble mission. As he spelled out in a lecture he gave last month to the Society of Editors, he wants to “maximise well-being and minimise harm,” “promote positive values and undermine evil ideologies that attack our way of life,” and “minimise the suffering of victims and survivors of crime and terrorism.” And at the heart of his pitch to the country’s leading journalists was a seductive message. We are all defenders of our way of life, he told them; you too are a pillar of our democracy. Shouldn’t we work hand in hand to protect the values that we hold in common?

Policy Exchange launches Space Policy Unit

The UK should consider setting up a new Space Council “along the same lines as the USA”, according to Chris Skidmore, Science Minister, in order to help create a “joined up government policy towards space”.

Theresa May responds to Lord Bew’s Backstop paper

In a Q and A after her speech in Belfast on how Brexit will affect Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister was asked about Lord Bew’s recent Policy Exchange paper, The Backstop Paralysis: A Way Out. Specifically, did she agree with his assessment that the UK Government has not challenged the Irish Government’s narrative on the Good Friday Agreement being under threat.


  • Thursday, 21 June, 2018
    10:00 - 11:30

The UK Climate Change Act went through Parliament 10 years ago with cross-party support – marking a political consensus on climate action that has continued ever since and serving as an international template.


  • Thursday, 7 June, 2018
    9:00 - 11:00

In his only public appearance on his UK visit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interviewed by William Shawcross at Policy Exchange. Deeming the Iran nuclear deal ‘defunct’, the Prime Minister said that a realignment was taking place in the Middle East, with relations improving between Israel and Sunni nations. He also had words of praise for Presidents Trump and Obama.

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