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.

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”.

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.

Understanding Islamism

Policy Exchange has launched a major new project, Understanding Islamism. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph on the first anniversary of the 2019 London Bridge attack, 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.

David Goodhart joins the EHRC

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.

Saving a lost decade

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.

Dame Patricia Hodgson to chair Policy Exchange’s Reform of 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.

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 welcomes Defence Secretary and Chief of the Defence Staff

Policy Exchange welcomed the Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, to introduce a keynote speech by General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, on The Integrated Operating Concept.

In this major speech at an important juncture for UK defence, the Chief of the Defence Staff  presented a new approach to the utility of armed force and integration of space, cyber and information, alongside the maritime, land and air domains. When speaking of the new concept he said, ‘this Integrated Operating Concept places a premium on operating, it also places a premium on adaptability – the ability to adapt to war fight.’

The event was chaired by General David Petraeus. You can watch the event here

Policy Exchange launches History Matters project

More than two thirds of the British public are concerned that “a minority of political activists are being given too much say over how Britain treats its monuments,” according to polling published by Policy Exchange to mark the launch of its new History Matters Project, chaired by Trevor Phillips. The polling also reveals rock bottom support for removing historical statues, including Winston Churchill’s in Parliament Square.

Policy Exchange has also issued a call for evidence on the rewriting of the UK’s history and has published a compendium of evidence gathered so far, drawing together a range of recent developments, which all turn on the place of history in the public square – including the removal of certain statues on public display, the renaming of buildings and places, and changes to the way history is taught in university curriculums. Read the announcement, and the compendium, as well as an article by Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP, a member of the History Matters panel, on Conservative Home.

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 US Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary

Policy Exchange was delighted to welcome Hon Michael R. Pompeo, US Secretary of State, to speak on “The Future of the Special Relationship”, in conversation with Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, the Foreign Secretary, at an event in Westminster. The discussion – which ranged from Brexit to the rise of China – was moderated by Dean Godson, Director of Policy Exchange. Watch the full video here, and read coverage in The Express

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

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.

Powering Net Zero

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The UK Government’s commitment to quadruple offshore wind capacity by 2030 will transform Great Britain’s electricity system. However, it poses serious challenges for the electricity market. Market conditions during the summer lockdown showed that the Government needs to make reforms, otherwise costs will rise and customers won’t benefit from the falling cost of wind and solar.

Fiscal principles for the future

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This paper calls for a pro-growth economic strategy as the best way to address Britain’s fiscal position.

Fiscal principles for the future is co-authored by Gerard Lyons, Graham Gudgin, Warwick Lightfoot and Jan Zeber.

Dr Gerard Lyons, Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange, said: “It is right to use fiscal policy as a shock absorber, to avoid premature tightening and to direct spending towards capital investment and public services. The main focus has to be on a pro-growth agenda, that reduces unemployment and allows the economy to recover.”

Senior Indonesian Muslim Leader Calls for Reform to Combat Extremism

Yahya Cholil Staquf, the General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama in Indonesia, has published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, calling on Muslims to challenge extremism within their midst. “How to Make the Islamic World Less Radical” argues that: “Nearly a generation after 9/11, the world has made little progress in freeing itself from the threat of radical Islam.”

Waiting for the FE White Paper – Skills Reform and “Levelling Up”

The promised ‘radical’ White Paper for Further Education (FE) is due imminently. How will it balance the need to respond quickly to improve employment without losing focus on the more complex, and slower process of transforming post-school learning?  How will it link this to growth and productivity, acknowledge the importance of place, and ‘level up’ local and regional inequality? And what does this mean for devolution, in places such as Greater Manchester, where the conflict between local and central government has been so evident in recent months, where Covid has impacted hard and the hopes for new powers and resources to shape a more productive, wealthier economy, remain high?

New Austrian Government-sponsored Studies on Islamism

The new Dokumentationsstelle politische Islam (Centre for the Study of Political Islam), established in Vienna in late 2020 by the Austrian government, has produced its first paper: Political Islam as a Subject of Academic Analysis and the Example of the Muslim Brotherhood by Dr Mouhanad Khorchide and Dr Lorenzo Vidino. It is designed to establish the scope of the Centre’s engagement with the subject, resolve some key definitional issues and set the scene for further studies. It complements Policy Exchange’s own papers which launched the Understanding Islamism project in December, as well as our more recent paper on Political Islamism in Austria.
 Political Islam as a Subject of Academic Analysis is divided into two parts, the first of which deals with definitional issues in regard to Political Islam (the authors’ preferred term) in general; the second with the specific case of the Muslim Brotherhood. It offers important insight into the evolution of the Brotherhood’s networks in Europe, and particularly in Austria.

Building a better healthcare system

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?

Matt Hancock sets out vision for public health

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

BBC consultation launched in Policy Exchange speech

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.


  • Monday, 23 November, 2020
    9:00 - 10:00

Policy Exchange is delighted to award the inaugural Grotius Prize – in honour of the founding thinker of international law, Hugo Grotius (1583 – 1645). The Prize was awarded to Hon Scott Morrison MP, the Prime Minister of Australia, in recognition of his work in support of the international rules based order. With remarks by Rt Hon (more…)


  • Monday, 16 November, 2020
    12:00 - 13:15

A Policy Exchange–ConservativeHome event One Nation Conservatism: what does it look like after COVID 19? with Isaac Levido 2019 General Election Conservative Campaign Director Danny Kruger MP former Political Secretary to the Prime Minister Jane Stevenson MP Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton North East Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA First Minister of Northern Ireland; Leader of the Democratic (more…)


  • Monday, 9 November, 2020
    18:00 - 19:00

Robert D. Putnam Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University Shaylyn Romney author, speaker and social entrepreneur authors of The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again in conversation with Danny Kruger MBE MP Member of Parliament for Devizes An eminent political scientist’s brilliant analysis of economic, social, (more…)

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