David Goodhart: The Sewell Commission should change how Britain thinks about race

The Sewell Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, writes David Goodhart, Head of Policy Exchange’s Demography Unit, “is the liberal-minded but honest, evidence-based story on race that many of us who have been thinking and writing about this subject for many years have been waiting for. There is intelligent common sense on almost every one of its 264 pages and although it has its flaws… it powerfully challenges the pessimistic identity-politics-based race narrative that has become so influential in recent years.” Read David’s article in full here.

 

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

Budget 2021: Policy Exchange's Analysis

In advance of the Budget, Policy Exchange published What is to be done with the British Economy?, an overview of the key principles that should inform the UK’s future economic policy by Warwick Lightfoot, Head of Economics and former Special Adviser to three Chancellors. It calls for a realistic appraisal of the principal tools of macro-economic management and simplification of the tax system. Read his op-ed for ConservativeHome.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gerard Lyons, Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange and former Chief Economic Adviser to Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP during his London Mayoralty, argued in the Spectator’s Coffee House that the message of the Budget was “the health and economic crisis are now coming to an end”. 

£250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize 2021 seeks hospitals revolution

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.

History Matters Conference

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.

Professor Richard Ekins welcomes Supreme Court Judgement on Shamima Begum

In a blog for Policy Exchange, Professor Richard Ekins, Head of the Judicial Power Project, welcomed the “powerful” Supreme Court judgment that corrects “a misconceived Court of Appeal judgment, which had put national security in doubt and undermined the law Parliament made”  in the Shamima Begum case.

Ekins described the ruling as a “affirmation of constitutional principle and the limits of judicial power”. While noting that the Supreme Court judgement does not stop Begum’s future appeals to SIAC (Special Immigration Appeals Commission) it does critically reject “the attempt to leverage her right to appeal into a right to return to the UK, which would mean a de facto right to remain.”

Read Professor Ekins blog here.

Strong Suburbs

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.”

Read the report here and coverage of the report in the The Daily MailThe Telegraph, and The I.

The Future of the Union

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.

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 paper 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.

 

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.

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.

Place Matters

Place matters profoundly to people. We invest more resources in our homes than in anything else, and by some measures we spend more time gardening than we do on any other pastime. This is no less true of our shared home. Protecting the countryside from suburban sprawl has substantial costs in terms of foregone economic growth, but green belts are widely supported, and were introduced only after a huge grassroots campaign for them.

Protecting local heritage

Since the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, a number of councils across England and Wales have stated their commitment to reviewing local street names and—where these are deemed to have a contentious history—to considering renaming them. In several instances, the decision-making process with regards street name alteration has excluded residents and locals, in spite of the immense direct impact street renaming has on a street’s residents.

Why Sterling is the UK’s silver bullet

In a few weeks’ time, the Scottish electorate will vote a new parliament into Holyrood with all the pundits predicting a majority for the incumbent Scottish National Party led by Nicola Sturgeon. She will campaign on the basis that a majority gives the SNP a mandate for a second Independence Referendum to be held early in the new parliament. This is despite constitutional matters being reserved to the UK Government in Westminster and despite previous SNP assurances that they would respect the democratic result of the 2014 IndyRef1 “for a generation”.

Fight over grants for EVs shows that climate policies need an endgame.

Last month the Government announced a surprise cut to the grants available for buyers of new electric vehicles (EVs) and restricted eligibility to only the cheapest models.[1] The cut is the Government’s response to the growing popularity and falling prices of EVs, which threatens to blow the budget of the UK’s grant programme. The design of the grant programme sets up the Government to fail – to be seen as the climate Scrooge in the same year it hosts COP26, constantly intervening to cut support for EVs just as more drivers look to take the plunge.

Why Muslims like me are worried about the Batley protests

To some, the persecution of a schoolteacher who showed his pupils an offensive cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed may seem like a local quarrel. Does it really matter, many Britons will ask, that a few dozen men gathered at the gates of a school in West Yorkshire? Surely it will blow over before long, goes the thinking.

£250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize 2021 seeks hospitals revolution

The 2021 Wolfson Economics Prize, 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”.

Health Accountability

Proposals to strengthen ministerial accountability are long overdue, and will complement the changes underway to consolidate various arm’s length bodies into NHS England, said Robert Ede, Head of Health and Social Care at Policy Exchange, in an article for the Health Service Journal on the significance of this week’s Health and Care White Paper on legislative reform. Read his article re-published on the Policy Exchange website here.

Charging Up

The Energy & Environment Unit at Policy Exchange launched a paper warning that the installation of electric vehicle chargepoints would have to be five times faster during the 2020s to make the petrol and diesel vehicle ban workable. The report was authored by Ed Birkett, Senior Fellow and William Nicolle, Research Fellow at Policy Exchange. The release coincided with the Government’s announcement of £20m additional funding for EV charging infrastructure. Read coverage of the report in The Telegraph, Sky News, Bloomberg and BBC News. Read the report here.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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