Experience-based policymaking

, 16 April 2013

‘We do worry, and think a lot about where we get knowledge from.’ So confessed a senior civil servant at the Department of Health, when I spoke to him as the department was in the throes of controversy over the Health and Social Care Bill in 2011. But this concern that civil servants are...

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Mrs Thatcher’s other peculiarity

, 12 April 2013

In the tributes to Mrs Thatcher, Lord Tebbit drew attention to the ‘two great influences in her life. One was her scientific training. The other, of course, was her religious belief’. Lord Waldegrave underlined the point with a story about how Mrs Thatcher used her scientific training not just to see off a proposal...

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Margaret Thatcher – an effective Prime Minister

, 9 April 2013

She was obviously an extraordinary political leader, with a unique, uncompromising style. She did not shrink from confrontation and openly scorned consensus. She was a conviction politician, who sharply divided people. While, in retrospect, you can point to tides of opinion – against the trade unions and the post-war state – which ran in...

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Can Big Society Capital succeed?

, 4 April 2013

While the term ‘Big Society’ has faded from political debate, its well-heeled namesake, Big Society Capital, lives on as the last scion of the brand. As a result, there is a great deal riding on its success. It was hoped that Big Society Capital could serve as a catalyst for the nascent social investment...

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Public inquiries – be careful what you wish for

, 3 April 2013

Be careful what you wish for was central theme of a fascinating seminar about public inquiries held at the Institute for Government just before Easter—which featured Lord Butler, who chaired the privy counsellor inquiry into intelligence about weapons of mass destruction ahead of the Iraq war; Lord Bichard, who ran the inquiry into child...

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Moneyball regulation

, 2 April 2013

For those unfamiliar with the book or film, Moneyball author Michael Lewis celebrates the success of a baseball manager, Billy Beane, who works with a statistics-obsessed colleague to transform the fortunes of his team, pushing them from second-tier to the top of the league. Beane’s secret was to discard the dogmas and intuitions of...

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