Policy exchange

The rule of law has become the rule of lawyers

Is that enormous silver spider that Lady Hale wore her badge of office? If so, it is appropriate. The Supreme Court has decided to tie up the government in a web of legal reasoning so tight that it can no longer govern. In his dissenting judgment in the earlier Miller case about Article 50, Lord Reed warned that ‘the legalisation of political issues is not always appropriate and may be fraught with risk, not least for the judiciary’. Unusually — as if to compensate for these words — his name was joined with that of Lady Hale in giving the judgment on Tuesday. He would have done better to heed his

How police can take back control of Britain’s streets

Boris Johnson’s pledge to fund an extra 20,000 police officers was a serious sign of intent, a game-changing moment for policing and a huge boost for law and order on Britain’s streets. But how can these new officers quickly reverse the spike in knife and violent crime that has plagued Britain? There are six pressing challenges that the new Home Secretary Priti Patel needs to address if she is to succeed in her strategy to crack down on crime: increasing crime levels, greater demands and reduced budgets for police; decline in neighbourhood officers; new national security threats; a disempowered police workforce and a policing model outpaced by technology. It is clear that neighbourhood policing

Michael Fallon attempts to instil some military discipline on Cabinet

After weeks of Tory backstabbing, briefing and plotting at summer parties, Damian Green had to stage an intervention on the Marr show and warn his colleagues to lay off the ‘warm prosecco’. So, the Secretary of State will be relieved to know that one Cabinet minister has managed to resist the temptation to secretly brief hacks at a booze-fuelled bash. At the Policy Exchange summer party last night, Michael Fallon cut to the chase and took to the mic to share his thoughts on his party’s current woes. The Defence Secretary said he and his colleagues could learn a lot from the military when it comes to self-discipline: ‘In this

Policy Exchange’s latest hire shows that integration is now a key government issue

Few think tanks have been as associated with the Cameron project as Policy Exchange. Its alumni are dotted in various positions around government, with a particularly strong presence in Downing Street. So, it is interesting that Policy Exchange’s director Dean Godson has today announced that he has hired David Goodhart, the former editor of Prospect and the author of The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War immigration, to head a new Integration Hub at the think tank. Goodhart’s arrival is a reflection of how much questions of immigration and integration are now preoccupying the centre-right. This new unit will be launched on 25 January at an event with Louise Casey,

Why it’s important to ignore ‘international law’

Last week, I wrote about the controversy caused by the government’s revision of the ministerial code which guides ministers’ conduct. In its Blair-era version, the code said that ministers had an overarching duty ‘to comply with the law including international law and treaty obligations’. The Cameron-era version has deleted the last six words, leaving simply ‘…to comply with the law’ . This has outraged lawyers who work in this field, but what the change exposes is that international law and treaties should never have been slipped into the rubric in the first place. According to the great legal philosopher Professor John Finnis, in a blog for Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power

Jim Murphy: second independence referendum is inevitable

Jim Murphy is quitting frontline politics with a bang. The outgoing leader of the Scottish Labour party addressed Policy Exchange this afternoon, offering his thoughts on why Labour lost the election and did so badly north of the border. Murphy revealed that he thinks another independence referendum is inevitable: ‘There will be another referendum whenever the SNP can get away with it. Why wouldn’t there? If you were an insurgent nationalist party with unprecedented power and with an absolute majority of parliamentarians in both parliaments, why wouldn’t you try and engineer certain circumstances that get you another referendum? ‘My frustration is that Cameron is so lame-assly dumb on it that he

What can modern politics learn from Thatcher? Charles Moore will tell us

The first volume of Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher is one of the finest political books of recent times. With the second volume due out in October, Charles, a columnist for both the Telegraph and this magazine, has agreed to also become a visiting scholar at the think tank Policy Exchange where he will work on what lessons contemporary politics can learn from Margaret Thatcher’s career. Policy Exchange has long been the favourite think tank of the Tory modernisers. With Charles and Steve Hilton’s arrival, it will be at the centre of the debate about where the Tory party should go next. For a flavour of the discussions to

Steve Hilton returns to the British political scene

In 2012, Steve Hilton quit his role as David Cameron’s senior adviser in frustration at the compromises of coalition and the slow pace of reform. Since then, he has maintained an almost total vow of silence on British politics. He had no desire to say anything that could be turned into a tricky headline for the Tories. But with the Tories having won the election—and with a majority—Hilton is dipping his toe back in the British political water. As well as doing various events to promote his new book More Human, he is also joining the Cameroon think tank Policy Exchange as a visiting scholar. Hilton’s arrival is a coup

Property crime is not a victimless crime

While researching Taking its Toll, a report written with Policy Exchange on the regressive impact of property crime, some troubling facts became clear. In the year to March 2014 there were an estimated 6.85 million victims of theft in England and Wales, representing 1 in 10 of the population. Yet a significant proportion of property crime is not reported to police: a third of burglaries and 90 per cent of shoplifting incidents go unreported. In a climate of heightened threats to our national security, the police are struggling to keep up. Last year around 19,000 bicycles were reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police yet only 666 (3.5 per cent) of

Why schools can’t teach character

I participated in a lively discussion about character education at Policy Exchange earlier this week. For those of you who don’t follow every twist of the education debate, the idea that ‘character’ should be taught in schools has gained a lot of traction in recent years. And support for it doesn’t divide along party lines: both Tristram Hunt and Nicky Morgan are advocates of character education. By ‘character’, the supporters of this idea have various desirable traits in mind, such as tenacity, reliance and self-control. There’s plenty of evidence that a child’s possession of these qualities is a strong predictor of later success. To give just one example, children who

Rachel Reeves’s ‘staggering’ and ‘astonishing’ future of welfare speech

Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, gave a speech earlier this week on the future of the welfare system. The choice that she presented was one between ‘…failing programmes and waste driving up social security spending under the Tories’, and Labour’s reforms to ‘…make work pay and get social security spending under control’. To claim that the current government has failed to control benefit spending is a bold tactic from a Labour Party economic spokesperson, and the numbers used to support the argument were so striking that they deserve some scrutiny. Claim One: The Conservatives have spent £13bn more on social security in this parliament than they had

A bold plan to make welfare more personalised and responsive

Jobs must surely be one of the great success stories of this government: 1.8 million more people in work, and unemployment at its lowest level since 2008. Increasingly the coalition’s welfare reforms are taking the plaudits for this successful turnaround. This success will only continue as the reforms bed in. The roll out of Universal Credit is important, not just because of how it simplifies the system and improves incentives, but also because once there is proper infrastructure in place it will be possible to move to a new generation of more personalised welfare services. The next critical step is to ensure that the hardest to help – people with

David Cameron attacks ‘career psychopath’ Dominic Cummings

There must be an election in the offing because the PM was out and about last night looking for a manifesto. He addressed Policy Exchange’s (PX) annual summer bash in Westminster College Gardens. It was a gag a minute. He cracked rotten jokes about pig semen, and claimed that he was one of the founders of PX — adding that he only sat around eating pizza while the brainboxes came up with ideas which he then stole. How the people stared. He thanked Policy Exchange for providing his government with most of its backroom brains and spinners. Comedy Dave joked the path from ‘policy wonk, to special advisor, to career psychopath’ was

When judges go to jail

Judges in jail Barrister and part-time judge Constance Briscoe was jailed for 16 months for perverting the course of justice in charges related to the Chris Huhne affair. She is far from the first judge to end up behind bars. — In 2009 Marcus Einfield, a former judge at Australia’s federal court, was given three years for lying over a speeding offence: he said he had lent his car to a friend who in fact had been killed in a car accident three years earlier. — Just last week Kazakh judge Kuplash Otemisova was jailed for four-and-a-half years for ‘making a wrong court ruling’, by releasing a Russian businessman who

Will the Union be a victim of multiculturalism?

One of the more striking statistics in yesterday’s Policy Exchange report on multi-ethnic Britain is the revelation that only 25 per cent of white Britons identify as British. This low figure may reflect people not wishing to fill out two boxes (that’s what Alex Massie says, anyway), but it certainly follows a noticeable trend of recent years – the decline of British identity in England. In contrast 64 per cent of white Britons in this report called themselves ‘English only’. With the arrival of post-war migrants a great deal of effort was made to make the British identity less racial, more welcoming, and rightly so. But one of the unintended,

Labour’s rent control policy will not solve our housing problems

Labour’s decision to impose rent controls will do little to solve our housing problems. Rent controls are at best misguided and at worst could be counterproductive, longer term. Misguided because rents have not actually been rising that fast in recent years. ONS figures show that rents rose by only 1 per cent in England in the year to March (1.4 per cent in London), a real terms fall. Indeed, since the beginning of 2011 they have only 4 per cent. Misguided also because this doesn’t deal with the root problem; a lack of supply in the housing market. Put simply we need to build many more houses, for rent and home-ownership,

Exclusive: Max Chambers to join No.10 policy unit

I understand that Max Chambers of Policy Exchange will soon join the Number 10 policy unit. Chambers will take on the home affairs brief that has been vacant since Patrick Rock’s resignation in February; Rock quit shortly before being arrested over an alleged offence related to child abuse images. At Policy Exchange, Chambers has advocated devolving more powers to Police and Crime Commissioners and building bigger, more modern prisons. He is the latest figure from Policy Exchange to be recruited to the Number 10 policy unit; Alex Morton joined to cover housing in December of last year. With Neil O’Brien, the former director of Policy Exchange, advising George Osborne and

When did we stop ‘tossing’ coins?

What kind of scientists do school inspectors not need to be? ‘Inspectors don’t need to be rocket scientists.’ For what must we make sure that the school inspection regime is fit? ‘We make sure that the school inspection regime is fit for purpose.’ In what manner do we need an independent schools regulator to inspect all schools? ‘We need an independent schools regulator that inspects all schools freely.’ Apart from freely, is there another manner in which we need an independent schools regulator to inspect all schools? ‘We need an independent schools regulator that inspects all schools freely and fairly.’ I don’t really mean to make fun of Jonathan Simons’s remarks on his excellent report

Could making Whitehall smaller, better, faster, stronger save £70 billion?

The government could save £70 billion from the Whitehall spending bill by moving into a new digitised age. That’s the gist of a new report from Policy Exchange, detailing the amount of archaic waste that exists in the civil service. Some of the examples in the Smaller, Better, Faster, Stronger report are astounding — the Crown Prosecution Service prints one million sheets of paper every day. Two articulated lorries loaded with letters and paperwork drive into the DVLA every day. Policy Exchange suggests many of these wasteful paper-based services could be taken to a central online location, aka the GOV.UK website. Bringing the government’s online presence into once place has been divisive. I think it’s a great example of

Boris and the gipsies of Belgium

It’s the peak of the summer party season. Half a dozen events competed for the Westminster crowd last night. The bookies at Ladbrokes made themselves outsiders by holding their booze-up on a boat that cast off a tad too early in the evening. The Adam Smith Institute hosted a bash on the Thames, while a stuffy parliament office saw the Tory Awkward Squad raise a glass to David Davis. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Palace of Westminster, whisky cocktails flowed for the Ladies and Gentlemen of Her Majesty’s Loyal Press Corps, whose summer bash was sponsored by booze kings Diageo. In the quiet surroundings of Dean Yard, a stone’s throw