Wonk Watch: October Edition

With an election just 43 days away, it’s not just political parties that are beefing up. The Westminster think tank scene is seeing changes too, with Policy Exchange in particular kicking back against the great wonk brain drain caused by Number 10’s think tank hiring spree.

Guido can reveal that PX is beefing up its domestic policy team by hiring Kwasi Kwarteng’s former BEIS SpAd Iain Mansfield to be their new Head of Education, Skills, Science and Innovation. Readers might remember Mansfield as the Cambridge physicist turned star civil servant who won the IEA’s coveted €100,000 Brexit Prize back in 2014. It’s a good time for Brexiteers in wonkland…

Mansfield joins former Hancock SpAd Richard Sloggett, who has joined the think tank as a Senior Fellow working on health policy, including social care. Policy Exchange have also announced that Guido alumnus and Telegraph columnist Juliet Samuel as well as the broadcaster Trevor Phillips, will be joining as Senior Fellows. On the flip side Guido understands that PX now have ten alumni in Government, including Number 10’s Munira Mirza, Chief Secretary Rishi Sunak, and Lords Leader Baroness Evans…

Meanwhile, the Adam Smith Institute has snapped up Charlotte Kude as their new Head of Government Affairs. Kude formerly worked for staunch Brexiteer MEP David Campbell-Bannerman in the European Parliament and Salmond slaying Colin Clark in the House of Commons. Welcome to Westminster’s Wonkland…

Over at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Sam Packer has joined to beef up the media team. Sam joins from doing PR at Grayling, after working on campaigns in UK and US. Darwin Friend has been hired as a researcher. Formerly a research assistant in Parliament, Darwin will now be applying his forensic eye to ramping up TPA FOI programme. Recent Nottingham grad and part-time ballet dancer Freya Stear has joined as Operations Assistant.

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“Dull, Dull, Dull” – More Tories Bemoan No.10’s Lack of Ideas

Nick Boles’ tweet about Theresa May’s “timidity and lack of ambition” has resonated with both Leave and Remain Tory MPs and right-leaning publications. Nicholas Soames is the latest to come out and call the government’s policy programme “dull dull dull”:

This isn’t just awkward Sarah Wollaston types or long-standing Remainers and May critics like Ed Vaizey. The lack of ideas and ambition in Number 10 has been the main concern of large numbers of MPs since the election, echoed even by May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy. MPs have been sending each other Juliet Samuel’s coruscating critique of the government in the Telegraph this morning – it’s hard to argue with her:

“Talk to people at any level of the Conservative Party. You can ask MPs, council leaders, party officials, local associations and you get the same description. There’s no direction. Nothing is happening. The operation is headless, clueless. What’s the public evidence of this? Well, just consider the terrible wounds inflicted on this Government with growing frequency. Many of them aren’t its fault when they first emerge, yet somehow, they “become” its fault.”

They agree over at ConservativeHome, where Paul Goodman pleads this morning for some direction and fresh ideas:

“Why should she not deliver a series of speeches, over the next year, to set out why, in her view, the social market, as Keith Joseph put it, works better than the socialist state?… There’s much that the Government could do without proposing new laws that Parliament would vote down.  On the NHS and social care, it could set up a Royal Commission… On schools, it could lift the cap requirement on new faith schools… On skills, it could advance Boles’ plan for new two year technical diplomas… On housing, it could free up more state-owned land… On ownership, it could have a look at Michael Fallon’s ideas, including tax breaks for companies that offer free shares to employees…”

Instead Gavin Barwell has reportedly once again shot down the hugely popular Vote Leave policy of spending the Brexit dividend on the NHS, to the outcry of colleagues like Rob Halfon. The unrest over the lack of policies has been bubbling away for months, it is starting to come out into the open…

mdi-timer 22 January 2018 @ 11:37 22 Jan 2018 @ 11:37 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
‘May Not Bringing Brexiteers With Her’

Pretty damning analysis from the Telegraph’s Juliet Samuel about the situation between Brexiteers and Number 10. Let’s hope this can all be resolved amicably when the Cabinet meets to discuss the end state later this month…

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Emily Nomates Moves to Telegraph

JULIET+SAMUEL

Juliet Samuel – the artist formerly known as Emily Nomates – has landed a column at The Telegraph. Formerly of this parish, Juliet went on to City AM, The Times and was latterly at the Wall Street Journal. She is now back doing politics…

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