Gerald Holtham

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A director, with Patricia Hewitt, of the IPPR, set up to help Neil Kinnock ditch Socialism. In 1998 Mandelson eased Matthew Taylor into Holtham's old IPPR job.[1] Manager of Norwich Union's £106bn 'socially responsible investment' strategy,[2] Holtham took part in the Third Way Nexus debate. He advises: 'accept the inevitability of free market Capitalism and ask whether and how a shrunken state should use its residual powers to ameliorate the worst effects of the system.'[3] Connected to the Brookings Institution and a member of 'Citizens for Europe' with David Marquand.[4]

Gerald Holtham has been getting notes of congratulation from think-tanks he never knew ex-isted: "A whole new landscape is opening up." But IPPR's new director (he starts in September) is no stranger to institutional thinking. Before his present job as a top economist for the international investment bank Lehman Brothers, he worked for the Brookings Institution in Washington and the OECD in Paris. He has written for the Fabians (on controlling inflation), and sits on the advisory council of Demos. Some of his personal opinions - on media ownership, for instance - are more radical than his pedigree would imply.
Holtham admits that City colleagues consider his latest career move "highly unusual", and concedes that he will take a "massive" cut in his six-figure salary (probably around pound 300,000 without bonuses, while the IPPR directorship was advertised at pound 37,000). But the believes "the intellectual tide is moving strongly in a left direction" A Labour Party member since the 1970s, Holtham describes his politics as "inherited" --his grandfather was a Welsh collier. Having advised the shadow Treasury team in the past, he has a realistic view of what to expect from the Labour front bench.
Holtham's appointment appears designed to beef up IPPR's economic credibility. (The GMB leader John Edmonds, an IPPR trustee, hailed him as the man who would sort out a sensible tax policy for the next elec-tion.) But will this mean a narrowing of focus? At his first meeting with staff, Holtham was at pains to reas-sure them, pointing out "that no government is ever remembered for its economic policy".
Some observers are sorry that the job did not pass to James Cornford's formidable deputy, Patricia Hewitt, who is leaving to head a research unit for a firm of management consultants. It remains to be seen whether Holtham, who is fiercely intelligent and accustomed to a high-profile job, can muster the political skills to supervise IPPR's work on policy for a putative Labour government.[5]


  1. The Guardian 1 June 2001
  2. Norwich Union funded Taylor's IPPR report.
  3. cited in The Third Way: summary of the NEXUS on-line discussion. Edited by David Halpern, with David Mikosz
  4. ref needed
  5. Milne, Kirsty Shedding new light on Labour; leftist think tanks in the United King-dom; includes related information on Gerald Holtham New Statesman & Society July 29, 1994 SECTION: Vol. 7 ; No. 313 ; Pg. 23; ISSN: 0954-2361