Norman Blackwell

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Lord Blackwell was with Plessey between 1976 and 1978 and a former partner of McKinsey & Company from 1978 to 1994. Having been a Special Adviser in 1986 and 1987, he was Head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit in 10 Downing Street from 1995 to 1997, following which he was Director of Group Development at NatWest Group, from 1997-2000 and non-executive director of Dixons Group from 2000 to 2003, chairman of Comensura in 2001. Appointed a Director of Standard Life in June 2003 and is Chairman of Standard Life Assurance Limited. He is Chairman of Interserve plc, non-executive Chairman of SmartStream Technologies Group, Senior Independent Director of Slough Estates plc, a non-executive with The Corporate Services Group 2000, and a Board Member of the Office of Fair Trading.

He is a non-executive director of Lloyds Banking Group Plc and chairman of a subsidiary of Lloyds, Scottish Widows Group Ltd, chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies and of Global Vision and an active member of the House of Lords.

He was also a special adviser to KPMG’s Corporate Finance Practice.


In the Financial Times, Blackwell, as Chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies, argued that the Conservatives should be leading the argument that “Britain cannot afford not to cut taxes”. Blackwell states that public spending will rise to 42%t of GDP by 2007 and tax rises will inevitably follow. Blackwell's argument is that high taxes divert resources from wealth creating enterprises into low productivity public consumption, and force more people into benefits, which put up taxes even further. Blackwell argues that the Government should ensure that public spending grows below the rate of economic growth, so that 'as tax revenues rise', some of the new income can be used to 'reduce tax rates' rather than fund public sector expansion. To encourage increased savings, Mr Blackwell argues that tax reductions should be diverted into long term savings and pension schemes.[1]

Most of the CPS' and the Adam Smith Institute's board comprise The TaxPayers' Alliance Advisory Council[2] In November 2004 and December 2005, a group of 'businessmen and opinion formers' (including Blackwell) signed two TaxPayers' Alliance letters to the Financial Times, and to the Daily Telegraph. These picked up on Blackwell's slogan that Britain "cannot afford not to cut taxes - and to discipline spending growth accordingly". The signatories included members of the super rich - Damon de Laszlo, Chairman, Economic Research Council, Sir Rocco Forte, Chairman, Rocco Forte Hotels, Rupert Hambro, Chairman, J O Hambro Ltd, William S James, LCF Rothschild Securities Ltd, Malcolm H.D. McAlpine, Director, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Sir Nigel Mobbs, Chairman, Slough Estates Plc, Allen Sykes, Former MD, Consolidated Gold Fields, Lord Vinson, Director, Fleming High Income Growth Trust plc, Sir Mark Weinberg, President, St James Place Capital Plc, Sir Oliver Wright, Former Ambassador in Washington.

The Bruges Group are also supporters of the initiative, Blackwell is a speaker at their conferences and has written for the group with the work published by The june Press[3] which is devoted to the anti-European cause.

Nigel Mobbs is the Chairman of Slough Estates and is also a member of Aims of Industry, Blackwell is also a director of Slough who fund Aims of Industry.

The CPS were also said by the Observer to be part of covert lobbying attempts surrounding the right's anti-Europe stance:

behind the campaign is a more shadowy alliance traversing the worlds of academia, politics and business. Everyone is linked to everyone else, whether it is by family, membership of anti-European organisations or party allegiance and more specifically Conservative Party affiliation. It has been a carefully orchestrated affair...[Conrad] Black is a board member of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), the right-wing think tank and one of the founding pillars of the anti-Europe alliance.

The Observer report also notes that Blackwell has a strong association with the Bruges Group,

the second lynchpin, along with the CPS, of the anti-Europe alliance. Another who has addressed the organisation is Irwin Stelzer, the right-wing commentator who is one of the few people with an open line to Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Sun. Stelzer, an American, is Murdoch's key economic adviser...Founded in 1989 by a group of 13 academics, the Bruges Group gained its inspiration from Thatcher's speech in the city a year earlier in which she said: 'We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level.'

Blackwell was part of a panel of commentators who gave evidence at the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee — as part of its inquiry into “choice and voice” in public services. The others included: Sir Christopher Gent, formerly Chief Executive of Vodafone and now Deputy Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Reform think tank, will be joined on the panel by Lord (Norman) Blackwell, Chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies and Philip Collins, Director of the Social Market Foundation. All three organisations are based within a stone's throw from each other and parliament.

Profiting from NHS reforms

In his role as a Conservative peer, Blackwell backed the Coalition's health reforms and voted in favour of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which opened up the NHS to more private firms. Interserve PLC, which Blackwell is chairman of, seem to be benefitting from the decision to privatise parts of the NHS by bidding £1.2 billion to land a NHS contract in Staffordshire.[4]


Further reading


  1. [1], accessed 2 October 2008
  2. advisory council, accessed 2 October 2008
  3. The June Press
  4. Jack Blanchard Tory lord Norman Blackwell in bid to land biggest NHS privatisation deal in history Mirror, 2 December 2014, accessed 10 December 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lord Blackwell Parliament.UK, accessed 10 December 2014
  6. House of Lords Wall Street Journal, accessed 10 December 2014