When a new government takes office it brings two things with it to govern: people and policy. The Institute for Government has looked in the past at how well prepared the people are for government, and it has also examined how policy is made in government. This project complements the Institute’s existing work on policy making by studying how policy is developed when a party is in opposition, and what effect this has on policies taken into government.

This project examines how a number of policies that have been developed in opposition – building on the Institute’s case studies of policy making and adding new examples on:

The project looks at:  

  • How policy making is affected by the resources available – in expertise, information, analysis and opportunities for challenge.
  • How comprehensive policy ought to be when taken into government. How this affects the new government's room for manoeuvre and the role of the civil service in the early days of a new government.
  • What kinds of constructive challenge and scrutiny exist for policy making in opposition? What can be learnt from suggested improvements to policy making in government?
  • What implementation in government involves and what issues need to be considered when policy is developed in opposition.

The lessons from these case studies and from wider research on policy making in opposition are brought together in a short report, Making Policy in Opposition: lessons for effective government.

Project contacts

Senior Fellow