Matthew Taylor is Ruining the RSA

A few months back Guido was invited to speak on a panel at the Royal Society of Arts. The enthusiastic American staffer on the phone was more than a little taken aback when told that Guido wasn’t interested.

Expanding further on the subject (it was after lunch), Guido told her that essentially Matthew Taylor was ruining a great institution by turning it into just another left-of-centre think-tank – sort of like Demos with a better designed Adam Brothers HQ building.

Matthew has subsequently been a bit defensive with Guido, pointing to the fact that they invited George Osborne to speak and venture capitalist Luke Johnson is the incoming new chairman. Good. Luke is good at kicking ass and Matthew Taylor needs his ass well and truly kicked.

The RSA has a fabulous history of achievements in public life, it was founded as the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce. Past members have included Benjamin Franklin, Adam Smith, William Hogarth, Charles Dickens and Guglielmo Marconi. It was founded to “embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art, improve our manufactures and extend our commerce”.

Now Matthew Taylor is turning it into a Blairite third-way think tank “to remove the barriers to social progress”. Well we have enough of those think-tanks already. He spends his days indulgently expounding on the “new progressivism” like some self-appointed high-priest of the chattering classes. Taylor seems to forget he is no longer the “Downing Street Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to Tony Blair” but the CEO of the RSA off the Strand. No wonder the number of paying RSA Fellows is dropping.



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