Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The future of Policy Exchange

The annual Policy Exchange Party last night was a typically well attended affair with the right mix of Policy Exchange staffers and alumni mixed with media, MPs, Peers, SpAds and lobbyists. The Prime Minister repeated the well worn story of how, post-1997 Tory bloodbath he sat on the floor of the offices of a fledgling new think tank that would grow into the mighty Policy Exchange - along with Michael Gove, Nick Boles and others - eating pizza, drinking diet coke and debating whether the centre right still had a future.

Cameron's story last night concluded that they must have done something right because "look where I am now!" The story of Policy Exchange is interlinked with the rise of David Cameron and the modernisation of the Conservative Party. Many ideas that began at the think tank are now governmnet policy or have influenced key debates over the last decade. They are still ambitious and having the impressive Danny Finkelstein as their new Chairman will give them new energy at an important time.

As we saw with the Conservative Party - every organisation needs to keep moving, changing and modernising to grow and develop. A think tank like Policy Exchange needs to do the same. No other Westminster think-tank could hold such a well attended event as last night's party. No other think tank is as influential on Britain today. Surely this is the danger point - with a corporate identity and corporate outlook and so many of its battles seemingly won - Policy Exchange could be in danger of losing its passion to influence change or remembering why it was created.

Hopefully, if enough people keep reminding them of that pizza and Coke fueled conversation on the floor of their first offices, we can all attend Policy Exchange summer parties for many years to come.     

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