Centre for Social Justice

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The Centre for Social Justice says it is

an independent think tank established by Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP in 2004, to seek effective solutions to the poverty that blight parts of Britain.[1]

In a March 2009 presentation Tim Montgomerie and Matthew Elliott described the Centre for Social Justice as part of the infrastructure of the conservative movement in Britain.[2] In 2011 Montgomerie wrote, 'the old rightwing thinktanks weren't particularly helpful to the Tory modernisers and so they built their own. ... The Centre for Social Justice gave Iain Duncan Smith his poverty-fighting plans.' [3]

In 2009 Iain Duncan Smith delivered a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, thanking them for their help in 'building up an international network of individuals and think tanks interested in centre right approaches to the delivery of social justice'.[4]

In 2010 the Centre for Social Justice was voted the think tank which has most influence on the Cameron Project by Conservative Home website [5] and every MP who has taken part in the Centre's 'Inner City Challenge' is a member of the Conservative Party. The list includes Andrew Selons, David Burrowes, John Penrose, Patrick Mercer and Rt Hon Oliver Letwin [6].

Background

The Centre for Social Justice was set up as a continuation of a project set up by former Conservative Party leader William Hague. In 2001 Hague set up the ‘renewing one nation’ task force which was led by Tim Montgomerie.[7]

The CSJ was set up by Iain Duncan Smith, Philippa Stroud and Tim Montgomerie in although the idea was developed from a 2002 visit to Easterhouse in Glasgow by Duncan Smith and Montgomerie. [8] Following the visit to Easterhouse in 2002 Duncan Smith argued that he wanted the Conservatives to be:

‘‘the natural party of those who want to make a better life for themselves and their children’.[9]

Duncan Smith’s interest in social welfare issues is often attributed by the media to his visit to Easterhouse, they describe the event as his ‘Easterhouse epiphany’.[10]

Right-wing conservative religious influence

In 2010 a Conservative MP complained to a Financial Times journalist about the influence of evangelical Christians on the party, he said:

'They’ve campaigned to change the processes so that they can bus in their voters, stuffing the selection meetings with their people. They don’t outnumber us, but they can out-organise us. They’re taking over the party'.[11]

The Financial Times investigation found that "While secular in its arguments, the CSJ was Christian in tone and hiring".[12] Religion has a strong influence on the three founding members of the CSJ, Iain Duncan Smith, Tim Montgomerie and Philippa Stroud. Duncan Smith has described unemployment as a 'sin',[13] and admitted that Catholicism is '‘integral to everything I do’.[14]

Tim Montgomerie's rise through the conservative political ranks began with his chairmanship of the Conservative Christian Fellowship organisation which he directed for 13 years.[15] Montgomerie has been criticised for holding controversial views on the subject of equality. When he became involved with the 'renewing one nation' task force Montgomerie was criticised by Sean Woodward who argued that:

'Tim Montgomerie is known as somebody who has an agenda that is anything but inclusive.'[16]

According to The Guardian, Montgomerie admitted to being 'inspired' by Adrian Rogers, a former Conservative Party candidate who was expelled from the party for making 'anti-gay' comments.[17] Montgomerie also organised a UK visit for Martin Olavsky a US Christian spokesman who 'condemns homosexuality and public welfare'.[18]

Writing in The Observer in 1999, Nick Cohen argued that the Conservative Christian Fellowship's journal 'denounced gay soldiers as suicide risks, security risks, blackmail risks, health risks and rape risks' and that Montgomerie said that he was willing to give 'sacrificial care' to homosexuals who saw the error of the their ways. Cohen went on to say that Montgomerie had said that the Conservative Party 'should not ask gays to vote for us', instead insisting that it was their duty to 'expose the unbiblical and the libertine'.[19]

Tim Montgomerie introduced Iain Duncan Smith to the third founding member of the CSJ, Philippa Stroud.[20] Stroud had previously worked at Christian Action Research and Education an evangelical organisation with an anti-abortion and homophobic political stance.[21]

In 2011 Labour MP Frank Field, a member of the CSJ advisory council[22], campaigned with Conservative MP Nadine Dorries and anti-abortion lobbyists to create a counselling service that they hoped would cut UK abortions by 60,000 a year. These views were condemned by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and Marie Stopes who argued that 'another layer of counselling could cause distress by delaying access to abortions'.[23]

Ideological influence of Charles Murray

In an article for the Big Issue, Iain Duncan Smith argued that Britain was heading for 'social apartheid' because of the welfare system. In laying out his agenda for the Centre for Social Justice, he cited the work of Charles Murray arguing that:

The right-wing commentator Charles Murray has described the emergence of a caste society where the cheapest option becomes the segregation of society’s most vulnerable and most dysfunctional members. In Murray’s gated society problems are never conquered – only managed. Some people are literally imprisoned. Some, particularly minority communities, live in heavily-policed urban ghettoes. In this vision of social apartheid some are kept permanently on benefits. Others are becalmed by Ritalin and equivalent drugs.
There is one sure way of making sure that this dystopian caste society becomes a horrible reality for Britain. And that is to carry on as we are. Labour may hate the idea of a caste society but that is exactly where we’ll end up if we stick with their big-state, values-free mindset.[24]

The CSJ has not done any work with Charles Murray on policy development, Murray explained:

[I] 'Haven't had any contact with anyone in the current UK government (or its predecessor) for years. Nor have I had any contact with anyone at the Centre for Social Justice for years.[25]

Economic Dependency working group

The Centre for Social Justice has a working group set up to tackle the problem of economic dependency. The working group includes Corin Taylor and Nicholas Hillman. Taylor is the research director of the Taxpayers Alliance and is also affiliated with the Policy Exchange; Nicholas Hillman is also a former research fellow with the Policy Exchange.

Along with the Democracy Institute the Policy Exchange and the Taxpayers Alliance attacked Wilkinson and Pickett for their book The Spirit Level, which argued that social problems have a causal relationship with greater levels of income inequality.[26]

The Economic Dependency working group produced a report entitled Breakthrough Britain: Dynamic Benefits; towards welfare that works. The report cites a study by the Department of Work and Pensions which argues that 'the source of income is more important than the level of income in determining levels of social exclusion'.[27] The report argues that the three main failings of the benefits system presided over by the previous Labour Government were:

  • 1. It disincentivises work: the swift withdrawal of benefits, offsetting any earnings from work, punishes the lowest earners trying to earn more. It makes leaving welfare a risky proposition.
  • 2. It imposes penalties on desirable behaviour apart from work – such as marriage and cohabitation, saving, and home ownership.
  • 3. It is very complex – making it costly to administer and reinforcing dependency.[28]

Members

Nicholas Boys Smith | David Godfrey | James Greenbury | Nicholas Hillman | Peter King | Sara McKee | Lee Rowley | Debbie Scott | Corin Taylor | Cameron Watt[29]

People

2010

Board of Directors

Mark Florman - Chairman of Board of Directors from July 2010 following departure of Philippa Stroud [30]

Louise Hobbs | Stephen Brien | Ryan Robson | Sam Clarke

Advisory Board

Camila Batmangelidjh | Baroness Deech | Johan Eliasch | Brian Griffiths | William Hague | Robert Halfon | Syed Kamall | Oliver Letwin | Murdoch Maclennan | George Magan | Tim Montgomerie | Malcolm Offord | Patrick Regan | Stephan Shakespeare | Lawrence Sherman | David Willetts

People

Gavin Poole executive director from July 2010| Chris Bullivant | Charlotte Pickles | Robin Millar | Juliette Ash | Cara Walker | Jeffrey Bailey | Samantha Callan | Christian Guy | Adele Eastman | Zoe Briance | Ali Crossley | Deven Ghelani |Chris Perfect | Nicola Vimalanathan | Kirsty Turnbull | Lucy Maule | Joseph Colman | James Mumford | Melanie Mackay | Philippa Stroud, executive director until May 2010 |

2009

Board of Directors as at 19 November 2009:[31]

Advisory Board members as at 19 November 2009:

Events

Party Conference Fringe events

Labour 2014

  • 23rd September
A work in progress: Halving the disability employment gap. Speakers: Kate Green MP, Stephen Timms MP, Richard Hawkes and Christian Guy.
Banking on communities: Ensuring financial inclusion for the local community. Speakers: Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, David McConnell, Mark Lyonette and Alex Burghart.
Still tough on crime? Labour’s plans to reduce offending. Speakers: Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Joyce Moseley OBE, Chris Wright and Edward Boyd.[34]

Conservative 2014

  • 29th September
Banking on communities: Ensuring financial inclusion and services for the local community. Speakers: Robin Walker MP, Jane Hill, Angela Clements and Alex Burghart.
Business and poverty: What can business do to reduce child poverty and increase social mobility? Speakers: Alan Milburn, Chris White MP, Benet Northcote and Christian Guy.
More than bricks and mortar: Long-term investment across the housing market to improve social mobility. Speakers: Brandon Lewis MP, John Glen MP, Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Paul Tennant, Andy Hobart and Christian Guy.
The jury’s out: Will the Conservatives succeed in transforming rehabilitation? Speakers: Andrew Selous MP, Debbie Pippard, Rob Owen and Edward Boyd.
Confronting dementia: Who cares and who pays? Speakers: Brooks Newmark MP, The Rt Hon Stephen O’Brien MP, Jeremy Hughes, Dr Samantha Callan and Esther Rantzen CBE.
Putting early years nutrition on the menu: How to create healthy families and communities. Speakers: Dr Dan Poulter MP, Helen Crichton, Izzy Neale and Dr Samantha Callan.
Making it to payday: How people have stopped saving and become reliant on credit. Speakers: Justin Tomlinson MP, Mike O’Connor, Niall Alexander, Matthew Reed and Fiona Cunningham.
  • 30th September
On the edge? Where next for the Troubled Families programme. Speakers: The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Michael Oglesby CBE DL, Anne Longfield OBE, Adam Dyer and Dr Samantha Callan.
A work in progress: Halving the disability employment gap. Speakers: Mark Harper MP, Mark Hoban MP, Richard Hawkes, Christian Guy and Fiona Cunningham.
An audience with the Rt Hon Theresa May MP – interviewed by Fraser Nelson. Speakers: The Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Christian Guy.
An evening with the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP – interviewed by Tim Montgomerie. Speakers: The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP and Christian Guy.[35]

Liberal Democrats 2014

  • 6th October
Banking on communities: Ensuring financial inclusion and services for the local community. Speaker: Lynne Featherstone MP.
  • 7th October
Girls and gangs: Exposing the problem, finding solutions. Speaker: Norman Baker MP.
A work in progress: Halving the disability employment gap. Speaker: Steve Webb MP.[36]

See also

External resources

Contact

Address: 34a Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AB
Website: http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk

References

  1. About, CSJ website, accessed 19 Nov 2009
  2. Tim Montgomerie, The growth of Britain's conservative movement, ConservativeHome, 14 March 2009.
  3. Tim Montgomerie, 'Ed Miliband should learn from the Tory opposition experience', guardian.co.uk, 26 September 2011.
  4. Iain Duncan Smith, From Opposition to Power, Centre for Social Justice, 9-March-2009, Accessed 10-January-2011
  5. ConservativeHome?,http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thinktankcentral/2010/04/centre-for-social-justice-and-policy-exchange-are-best-regarded-think-tanks-by-conservativehomes-inf.html Centre for Social Justice and Policy Exchange are best regarded think tanks by ConservativeHome's 'influentials panel', Accessed 11-February-2011
  6. Centre for Social Justice, http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/default.asp?pageRef=165 What is the Inner City Challenge?, Accessed 11- February-2010
  7. Cook, C. (2010) Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine, Financial Times, 12-February-2010, Accessed 28-March-2011
  8. Cook, C. (2010) Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine, Financial Times, 12-February-2010, Accessed 28-March-2011
  9. Collins, V. (2002) How Iain Duncan Smith came to Easterhouse and left with a new vision for the Tory party, The Herald, 23-March-2002, Accessed 28-March-2011
  10. Collins, V. (2002) How Iain Duncan Smith came to Easterhouse and left with a new vision for the Tory party, The Herald, 23-March-2002, Accessed 28-March-2011
  11. Cook, C. (2010) Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine, Financial Times, 12-February-2010, Accessed 28-March-2011
  12. Cook, C. (2010) Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine, Financial Times, 12-February-2010, Accessed 28-March-2011
  13. Patrick Wintour, Randeep Ramesh & Helene Mulholland, Iain Duncan Smith: it's a sin that people fail to take up work, The Guardian, 11-November-2010, Accessed 02-May-2011
  14. Bunting, M. (2010), Iain Duncan Smith lets his secular mask slip, The Guardian, 11-November-2010, Accessed 02-May-2011
  15. Montgomerie, T. Introducing Tim Montgomerie, ConservativeHome, Accessed 04-May-2011
  16. Maguire, K. (2000), Policy and politics: 'Caring' unit head alarms Tories, The Guardian, 1-November-2000
  17. Maguire, K. (2000), Policy and politics: 'Caring' unit head alarms Tories, The Guardian, 1-November-2000
  18. Maguire, K. (2000), Policy and politics: 'Caring' unit head alarms Tories, The Guardian, 1-November-2000
  19. Cohen, N. (1999) Comment: Without Prejudice: Let us pray for William Hague. Oh well, suit yourself, The Observer, 12-September-1999
  20. Iain Duncan Smith, Christianity and Public Life, Conservative Christian Fellowship, 1-December-2010
  21. Martin Durham, The Conservative Party, New Labour and the Politics of the Family, Parliamentary Affairs, April 2011, Vol 64, Issue 2
  22. Advisory Council, Frank Field, Centre for Social Justice, Accessed 02-September-2012
  23. Polly Curtis, Ministers back anti-abortion lobby reforms, The Guardian, 28-August-2011, Accessed 2-September-2012
  24. Iain Duncan Smith, We're heading for social apartheid in Britain if we don't change course, IainDuncanSmith.org, Accessed 21-February-2010
  25. Charles Murray, Re: Welfare Reform Advice, E-mail to Steven Harkins, 21-February-2011
  26. Robert Booth, The Spirit Level: how 'ideas wreckers' turned book into political punchbag, The Guardian, 14-August-2010, Accessed 10-January-2010
  27. Centre for Social Justice, Breakthrough Britain: Dynamic Benefits; towards welfare that works (Executive Summary), Centre for Social Justice, Accessed 10-January-2010
  28. Centre for Social Justice, Breakthrough Britain: Dynamic Benefits; towards welfare that works (Executive Summary), Centre for Social Justice, Accessed 10-January-2010
  29. Economic Dependency, Working Group, Centre for Social Justice, Accessed 10-January-2010
  30. Public Affairs News http://www.publicaffairsnews.com/no_cache/home/think-tank-news/news-detail/newsarticle/new-executive-director-at-the-centre-for-social-justice/45/ New executive director at the Centre for Social Justice], accessed 22 Sept 2011
  31. Board of Directors, CSJ website, accessed 19 Nov 2009
  32. Social Justice Scotland Directors, Social Justice Scotland website, accessed 19 Nov 2009
  33. Centre for Social Justice Advisory Board, accessed 13 February 2010
  34. Labour fringe events Centre for Social Justice, accessed 6 October 2014
  35. Conservative conference fringe programme Centre for Social Justice, accessed 6 October 2014
  36. Liberal democrat party conference Centre for Social Justice, accessed 6 October 2014