Policy Exchange

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Policy Exchange's former offices at Clutha House, 10 Storey's Gate

Policy Exchange is a neoconservative orientated think-tank with close ties to UK Prime Minister David Cameron. [1] It was launched in April 2002 by two former Asda executives Francis Maude and Archie Norman with Nicholas Boles as its founding director. [2] It is part of the Stockholm Network [3] a working group of European market-oriented think-tanks.

In 2011 Montgomerie wrote, 'the old rightwing thinktanks weren't particularly helpful to the Tory modernisers and so they built their own. Policy Exchange helped Michael Gove develop his schools agenda. The Centre for Social Justice gave Iain Duncan Smith his poverty-fighting plans.' [4] In 2012 he described the two think-tanks as having 'been the most influential centre right think tank of the last decade.' [5]

Origins and launch

Policy Exchange was established by a group of Conservative MPs who had backed Michael Portillo’s campaign in the 2001 Conservative leadership contest. Portillo, who had recently admitted having had homosexual experiences, advocated a shift towards more liberal social attitudes, whilst maintaining a commitment to right-wing economic policy. Dubbed ‘Portillistas’ by Westminster commentators, Portillo’s backers saw themselves as modernisers of an out of touch party which had put off potential voters through its negativity, xenophobia and social conservatism.

Portillo withdrew from the Conservative leadership race on the evening of 17 July 2001 and subsequently announced that he would leave politics. According to the Independent the eleven Shadow Cabinet colleagues who had backed him were subsequently dubbed ‘the living dead’ in Westminster. [6]

Only days later, one of the ‘living dead’, Archie Norman a former CEO of Asda, told the Daily Telegraph’s Rachel Sylvester that he and other Portillo supporters were planning to set up a think-tank saying: ‘I came into public life to help transform the Conservative Party so it can win again, and that's what I'm still about.’ [7] On 21 July the Daily Telegraph ran a front page headline, ‘Portillo supporters to fight on’. Archie Norman was quoted as saying:

We've got hundreds of thousands of people who don't want to lose what we were creating, we've got financial support from people who wanted to invest in this as the future of the party and we would like to find a way of channelling that and harnessing it. [8]

That August the Daily Telegraph published a letter from the ‘Portillistas’ in which they said they planned to establish ‘a new forum, firmly rooted within the party, devoted to developing the ideas that will form the basis of a genuinely modern Conservative Party.’ [9] The letter was signed by Francis Maude, Archie Norman, Tim Yeo, Andrew Mackay, Peter Ainsworth, Theresa May, Edward Garnier, Peter Lilley, Damian Green, Nicholas Soames, Julie Kirkbride, Stephen Dorrell and Nicholas Gibb. [10] At a speech in 2012, Francis Maude recalled:

It was mostly Archie Norman’s idea. I raised the money and hired Nick Boles to be its first Director. Together we recruited Michael Gove to be its first chairman, having taken the unusually self-effacing position that its board should contain no active politicians. ...

We wanted Policy Exchange at the start to focus on four policy areas: public service reform; decentralisation; internationalism; and the environment. The point was to develop new centre-right thinking and solutions to the issues that people most cared about but which the Conservative Party seemed to ignore. [11]

In early October, a week before the Tory Party Conference, the party’s new leader Iain Duncan Smith reportedly met for private talks with Francis Maude, and the latter agreed to delay the launch of the think-tank until after the party conference. [12] The truce was cemented with an offer from the ‘Portillistas’ that Iain Duncan Smith would be appointed Honorary President of the think-tank [13] – an offer which apparently came to nothing.

The logos for 'XChange', as Policy Exchange was originally branded in 2001, and the affiliated group Conservatives for Change or 'CChange'. The two were presumably kept separate to allow Policy Exchange to apply for charitable status as a non-partisan organisation.

Archie Norman, Francis Maude, and their allies decided to set up two separate think-tanks as part of their modernisation project. One, XChange Ideas or simply XChange, would be rebranded as Policy Exchange a few months later. A company limited by guarantee, formed in October 2001, became XChange Ideas on 9 November 2001. A separate company Conservatives for Change was also was set up that October, and was branded CChange. The two were presumably kept separate to allow Policy Exchange to apply for charitable status as a non-partisan organisation. Conservatives for Change supplied the initial funding for Policy Exchange, with a loan of £75,000. [14]

In December the group set up the websites cchange.org.uk and xchange.org.uk for people to register their interest in the projects prior to the launch of XChange or Policy Exchange's full website.

The full website <http://www.policyexchange.org.uk> was registered on 28 January 2002 and went live a few months later. [15] Policy Exchange was officially launched at the Tate Gallery in Central London on the evening of 29 April 2002. [16]


At a speech in 2012, Francis Maude recalled that 'In those early days it sometimes struggled for attention, and money. It felt then like a cottage industry, while today it bestrides the policy landscape like a colossus. [17] Tim Adams wrote in The Observer in 2008:

In the three years since Cameron's speech, as his star has risen so has that of Policy Exchange (despite the embarrassment of Newsnight's exposé of its questionable research into radical Islam, and the recent report suggesting northern cities were doomed). Its staff has increased from 5 to 35, its budget, mostly donations from the City, has grown nearly tenfold. One of its founders, Nick Boles, has become head of policy for Cameron; its former chief researcher, James O'Shaughnessy, is now chief researcher at Tory central office; current director Anthony Browne has just been appointed head of policy for Boris Johnson in London... By the time of this year's Policy Exchange summer party, attended by the entire Cameron court, and a good proportion of New Labour's old entourage, there was a glister of a movement that believed it was winning the argument. [18]

Charitable status

Policy Exchange applied for charitable status and was registered with the Charity Commission on 3 March 2003. Registering as a charity can provide numerous tax breaks for think-tanks. Charities do not normally have to pay corporation tax, capital gains tax, or stamp duty, and gifts to charities are free of inheritance tax. They can also pay significantly reduced business rates (e.g. council tax) on the buildings they occupy.

Policy Exchange’s application to the Charity Commission was based on the application made by the New Labour orientated think-tank IPPR. Former Policy Exchange director Anthony Browne told the Guardian: ‘We basically borrowed the IPPR's claim for charitable status and changed the words “centre-left” to “centre-right”’. [19] Similarly Browne’s predecessor, Nicholas Boles has said: “Before we set up Policy Exchange I went and chatted with Matthew Taylor [then director of IPPR], a friend, and when we approached the Charity Commission we put in an almost identical proposal to them. The joke, which is not quite true, is that the only difference was substituting 'centre-right' for 'centre-left'.” [20]

Policy Exchange was investigated by the Charity Commission after an MP complained in February 2007 that it was close to the Conservative Party. The Charity Commission report found no evidence of party political bias but identified a number of issues:

events hosted by the Charity – For an event to be educational under charity law it needs to be clearly linked to and advance a programme of research which should be identified prior to the event. We identified that the charity had hosted a series of one-off events to stimulate ideas or to promote the charity’s brand which often included attendance by MP’s;

dissemination of information – Research papers produced by the Charity are easily accessible on their website, however, very little information was given on other events hosted by the Charity. All charities must demonstrate that they operate for the public benefit. In this case, Policy Exchange could demonstrate public benefit through the dissemination of transcripts and papers arising out of each event;

and transparency – The original source of concern was that the Charity was supporting a political party and carrying out political activities. Whilst the Commission determined that there was no evidence of party political bias we determined that there is a need for greater transparency, particularly on Policy Exchange’s website. Information contained on the website following events in 2007 failed to sufficiently highlight or identify the cross-party speakers at events hosted by the Charity. [21]

Policy Exchange agreed to conduct a 12-month review of the areas identified by the Commission.


Current and former trustees

Name of Board Member Stated occupation Date of Appointment Date of resignation
Pamela Dow Company Director 10 December 2018 N/A
Alexander Downer Company Director 1 May 2018 N/A
Andrew Feldman Joint Managing Director 5 July 2017 N/A
David Harding Company Director 2 April 2020 N/A
Patricia Hodgson Company Director 5 July 2018 N/A
Greta Jones Retired Professor 18 June 2015 N/A
Andrew Law Company Director 22 January 2021 N/A
Charlotte Metcalf Journalist 18 June 2015 N/A
Sir David Ord Company Director 2 April 2020 N/A
Roger Orf Company Director 5 July 2017 N/A
Andrew Roberts Author 25 November 2014 N/A
Robert Rosenkranz Chairman & CEO, Dephi Financial Group 18 January 2010 N/A
William Salomon Company Director 2 April 2020 N/A
General Sir Peter Wall Retired Army Officer / Part Time Adviser 17 February 2015 N/A
Simon Wolfson Company Director 2 December 2008 N/A
Nigel Wright Company Director 19 March 2018 N/A
Theodore Agnew Company Director 1 April 2010 25 November 2014
Richard Briance Banker 18 January 2006 11 May 2015
Simon Brocklebank-Fowler Managing Partner 12 October 2010 19 October 2015
Robin Edwards Treasurer 12 June 2002 13 October 2015
Richard Ehrman Company Director 19 July 2005 20 May 2015
Virginia Fraser Writer for House & Garden 31 July 2007 11 May 2015
Charles Moore Journalist 2 December 2004 June 2011
Daniel Finkelstein Chairman 21 June 2011 10 October 2015
David Meller Company Director 12 October 2011 25 November 2014
Patience Wheatcroft Company Director 14 June 2012 20 November 2013
Charles Stewart-Smith Company Director 16 July 2013 19 October 2015
David Frum Company Director 29 January 2014 26 April 2017
Sarpadi Rao Company Director 29 January 2014 19 March 2018
George Robinson Investment Manager 10 November 2004 15 April 2021
Edward Sells Chartered Accountant 30 October 2007 4 December 2013
Timothy Steel Company Director 28 March 2006 12 July 2012
Alice Thomson British Journalist 12 June 2002 18 Jan 2011
Rachel Whetstone Account Director 7 July 2003 16 Jul 2013
Adam Afriyie Company Director 7 July 2003 9 May 2005
Colin Barrow Company Director 7 July 2003 18 January 2005
Camilla Cavendish Journalist 12 June 2002 22 Sep 2010
Iain Dale Company Director 12 June 2002 27 February 2007
Michael Gove Journalist 12 June 2002 18 January 2006
Francis Maude MP 2 November 2001 12 June 2002
John Micklethwait Journalist 12 June 2002 27 February 2007
Elizabeth Noel Company Director 5 June 2007 26 February 2008
David Willetts MP 2 November 2001 12 June 2002

According to Neil O'Brien, the trustees of Policy Exchange 'don’t exercise a strong direction of what we in the office will do' but are mainly used 'as a sounding board' or for their connections. He told Total Politics: 'They give incredible amounts of their time to help us meet people, give us people who give us information, people who can help fund things... They help us build our network of people out there. We always say that you are never more than two or three jumps away from being able to talk to anyone. One of our trustees will know someone who knows someone.' [22]

The table on the right displays information on the current and former directors of Policy Exchange Ltd as registered with Companies House on 3 January 2010. Policy Exchange is both a charity and a company limited by guarantee (i.e. without shareholders), meaning that these directors are also the trustees of the charity. The 14 current directors (i.e. those where no resignation date is provided) are displayed first in alphabetical order, followed by the company’s former directors.

The earliest directors were the Conservative MPs David Willetts and Francis Maude who resigned in June 2002 and were replaced by a number of public figures (initially mainly journalists) with less direct connections to the Conservative Party. The most notable of the early trustees was Michael Gove who was appointed Chairman of Policy Exchange. He was then a Times columnist, but would later become a Conservative MP and then a Minister in the Cameron Government. Other trustees who have since left the board include John Micklethwait, a writer for The Economist, and Iain Dale a right-wing author and blogger who subsequently became a columnist at the Daily Telegraph.

The 15 current trustees are a mixture of right-wing journalists and wealthy businessmen. Theodore Agnew, Richard Briance, Simon Brocklebank-Fowler, George Robinson, Edward Sells and Simon Wolfson are all British businessmen or financiers who have donated to the Conservative Party. [23] Robert Rosenkranz, an American multi-millionaire financier would be precluded from donating as a foreigner but has provided funding to Policy Exchange and Localis [24] (and the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute[25])

Those trustees who are not drawn from the world of business or finance are all affiliated to Britain’s conservative press. Virginia Fraser is the widow of Frank Johnson, [26] a former deputy editor of the The Sunday Telegraph (1995-99) and editor of The Spectator. [27] Alice Thomson is a comment writer at The Times and a former associate editor of the Daily Telegraph [28] and Charles Moore, Policy Exchange’s Chairman, is a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, and The Spectator.

In June 2011 Charles Moore stepped down as chairman 'to focus on his Telegraph columns and his biography of Margaret Thatcher'. His replacement was Daniel Finkelstein of The Times, a close ally of George Osborne. [29]

Trustees circa 2023


Policy Exchange’s first director was Nick Boles, a former member of Westminster City Council considered part of the ‘Notting Hill Set’ – an informal group of young Conservatives connected to the Prime Minister David Cameron. Before joining Westminster Council Boles ran a DIY business, prior to which he 'worked for a few years in Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe, helping state-owned industries prepare for private ownership.' [30] Boles is a former flatmate of Michael Gove [31] who was Chairman of Policy Exchange whilst Boles was director. Both men are signatories to the statement of principles of the Henry Jackson Society Project for Democratic Geopolitics, a British neoconservative organisation.

Boles left Policy Exchange in February 2007 to concentrate on his bid to be Mayor of London. [32] On his time at Policy Exchange Boles has stated:

My biggest achievement in politics so far has been to set up and run Policy Exchange, which is now the largest and most influential policy research institute on the centre right. While I was its director, Policy Exchange devised policies to make police forces more accountable to local people, to expand the number of places in good schools and to give local communities incentives to build more houses. We also exposed the activities of Islamic extremists in some mosques in the UK and their effect on the attitudes of young British Muslims. Many of our ideas have been adopted by the Conservative Party under David Cameron. [33]

Policy Exchange's third director Neil O'Brien (left) with his predecessor Anthony Browne (right). Photograph by Teri Pengilley from guardian.co.uk.

Boles was replaced by the Chief Political Correspondent of The Times Anthony Browne. [34] Browne had worked as a Business analyst in the late 1980s before becoming a journalist. Prior to joining The Times he worked at the BBC and the Observer. [35] During his time at The Times, Browne became embroiled in controversy over his comments on VDare, an anti-immigration US web forum, affiliated to the Center for American Unity. [36]

Browne was Director of Policy Exchange for just over a year. [37] According to ConservativeHome's ToryDiary 'During his time at PX there was a doubling of staff numbers but a concern that the think tank became too close to Project Cameron.' [38]

Browne was appointed as Policy Director to the Mayor of London on 21 July. The Guardian remarked: 'Browne's appointment – the fourth from Policy Exchange to get a top job in the Tory party – marks a further high watermark in the influence of Policy Exchange on future Tory policy.' [39] Browne’s predecessor Nick Boles had been appointed Interim Chief of Staff for the London Mayor Boris Johnson [40] before being appointed head of David Cameron's Implementation Unit, where he was responsible for drawing up the Tories' plans for government along with Policy Exchange founder Francis Maude. [41]

In September 2008 Neil O’Brien, director of the right-wing eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe, was appointed as Browne’s successor. A young Oxford graduate, O’Brien joined the campaign against Britain joining the single currency as an economics researcher [42] and according to an article in the Guardian, 'has a background in City PR', [43] He was director of Open Europe from its launch in 2005 to September 2008 when it was announced that O'Brien had been appointed head of Policy Exchange.

In 2012, it was announced that O'Brien would be leaving Policy Exchange to start work with George Osborne, advising him across the political landscape with a particular focus on how to reach voters in the north of England.[44] In January 2013, O’Brien was replaced by Dean Godson, the former Head of Security Unit.[45]

In October 2014 Policy Exchange announced the hiring of Thomas Cawston as their new Head of Health. The move comes as the political debate about the NHS gathers pace ahead of the 2015 general election. Cawston left rival think thank Reform to take up the newly-created post. [46]


As of October 2016, the think tank's board of directors includes:

Research staff includes:

Former directors

  • David Skelton - deputy director from May 2011 until April 2013. Joined from management consultancy PA Consulting Group and was a Conservative Parliamentary candidate in the 2010 elections. He is a former deputy director of the Parliamentary Resources Unit.[53]He left Policy Exchange to help set up a group "dedicated to broadening the appeal of the Conservative Party." [54]

Research focus

Piechart showing the relative prominence of Policy Exchange’s Research Areas between 2003 and 2010.[56]

Policy Exchange states that it is ‘particularly interested in free market and localist solutions to public policy questions’. [57] Like other right-wing think-tanks much of its research advocates the expansion of private power through the promotion of 'free market' policies. In the case of Policy Exchange however, these measures tend to be presented as progressive solutions to social problems, something it describes as 'Using centre-right means to progressive ends'. [58] It divides its research into nine categories: Arts & Culture, Crime & Justice, Economics, Education, Environment & Energy, Foreign Policy & Security, Government & Philosophy, Health and Social Policy.

The pie chart on the right displays the total number of events and publications listed in each policy area up to 31 December 2010. The same data is displayed in the table below, which shows the growth in the total number of events and publications as well as the relative prominence of each research area year on year.

Chart showing the relative prominence of Policy Exchange’s Research Areas year on year between 2003 and 2010.[59]

Foreign policy & security

As the data displayed in the graphs above shows, the policy area described by Policy Exchange as ‘Foreign Policy & Security’ has been the think-tank’s greatest area of activity after economics. The main concern of the Foreign Policy & Security Unit, at least in terms of publications, has been domestic counterterrorism and ‘extremism’, with the focus being on British Muslims. The ‘About’ section of the Foreign Policy & Security webpage states that Policy Exchange stands for ‘Preventing extremism’ and ‘Backing progressives against reactionaries’. It criticises the Labour Government for allegedly ‘deal[ing] with relatively extreme groups at the expense of moderates,’ and calls for the Government to ‘confront those who do not accept the foundations of a liberal society’. [60]

Given its relative overall prominence Policy Exchange has published relatively few reports in this area, listing only eight publications up to 31 December 2009 [61] (although its most controversial report The Hijacking of British Islam has been removed from its website). The first of these reports, called ‘Regime Change - It's Been Done Before’, was published on 15 May 2003, shortly after Britain and the United States invaded Iraq. [62] It was sponsored by Conrad Black, who had employed the Foreign Policy & Security Unit’s current director Dean Godson as a special assistant and leader writer at the Telegraph Group. [63] (Black was subsequently convicted of fraud in the US and sentenced to six and a half years in prison.[64])

The Regime Change report was edited by Roger Gough and grew out of a Policy Exchange round-table held in early March 2003. [65] The report included a foreword by the former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd (considered a ‘realist’ on foreign policy [66]), and essays from a number of contributors who considered previous examples of ‘regime change’ in West Germany, Japan, Cambodia, South Africa, Haiti, East Timor, The West Balkans and Afghanistan. [67]

The Foreign Policy & Security Unit was originally called the International Programme and was headed by Anna Reid, a former journalist with The Economist. [68] A separate programme on ‘Terrorism and Security’ emerged in 2006 which was eventually merged with its International Programme to form the Foreign Policy & Security Unit, as it is now known.

The Terrorism and Security programme – originally part of the International Programme and then separate for a period – emerged under the leadership of the right-wing journalist Dean Godson. Godson joined Policy Exchange from the Telegraph, following a purge of the paper’s most explicitly Atlanticist commentators after a change of ownership. In 2004 Telegraph editor Martin Newland told the Guardian:

I soon came to recognise we were speaking a language on geopolitical events and even domestic events that was dictated too much from across the Atlantic. It's OK to be pro-Israel, but not to be unbelievably pro-Likud Israel, it's OK to be pro-American but not look as if you're taking instructions from Washington. Dean Godson and Barbara Amiel were key departures. [69]

Policy Exchange listed Godson as leading the think-tank’s work on ‘Terrorism and Security’ from June 2006, [70] and by August he was listed as Research Director of the think-tank’s International Programme (which then included Terrorism and Security) with its former head Anna Reid listed as an Associate Fellow. [71]

Reports on British Muslims

Martin Bright pamphlet

Policy Exchange's 2006 pamphlet ‘When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries’ written by the then New Statesman journalist Martin Bright.

In July 2006 Policy Exchange published a pamphlet called ‘When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries’ written by the then New Statesman journalist Martin Bright. In the acknowledgments for the report Bright wrote, ‘In particular I wish to thank Dean Godson, whose driving energy and immense professionalism kept the project on the rails.’ [72]

The pamphlet was a collection of a series of stories by Martin Bright on the British Governments relations with Muslim groups. [73] Bright said he chose Policy Exchange, a 'slightly provocative publisher, because I believe a coalition of the left and right needs to be built around this issue.' [74]

Much of the material came from Foreign Office official Derek Pasquill, who was strongly critical of Foreign Office adviser Mockbul Ali and the Government's relationship with the Muslim Council of Britain.[75] Pasquill was charged under the Official Secrets Act, but the case was dropped in January 2008. According to a Guardian report on the hearing, the prosecution ‘indicated that internal FCO papers revealed that senior officials privately admitted that, far from harming British interests, Pasquill's leaking of the documents had actually helped to provoke a constructive debate.’[76]

Policy Exchange has claimed [77] that the pamphlet influenced Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly to change the Government's relations with Muslim organisations. [78]

BBC Newsnight controversy

In October 2007 Policy Exchange published The Hijacking of British Islam, a report which was revealed by BBC Newsnight as being based in part on fabricated evidence, and which has since been removed from Policy Exchange's website.

The full title of the report was The Hijacking of British Islam: How Extremist Literature is Subverting Mosques in the UK. It was written by Denis MacEoin and overseen by Dean Godson. [79] According to the report, which claimed to be 'the most comprehensive academic survey of such literature ever produced in this country', Policy Exchange sent four Muslim research teams to almost 100 mosques across Britain, and found radical material at 25 per cent of the institutions surveyed. [80]The Report's recommendations included calls for the British authorities to reconsider their relationship to the Muslim Council of Britain, the Islamic Foundation and the Muslim Safety Forum.[81]

The report's findings were widely covered in the British media with articles appearing in, for example, The Daily Mail [82], the Daily Telegraph[83] and The Times.[84] According to Newsnight editor Peter Barron, the BBC had originally been due to run an exclusive report on the findings:

On the planned day of broadcast our reporter Richard Watson came to me and said he had a problem. He had put the claim and shown a receipt to one of the mosques mentioned in the report - The Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London. They had immediately denied selling the book and said the receipt was not theirs.

On closer examination, the BBC identified particular concerns about five of the receipts in particular:

  1. In all five cases the mosques involved said the receipts did not belong to them.
  2. The expert analysis showed that all five had been printed on an inkjet printer - suggesting they were created on a PC.
  3. The analysis found "strong evidence" that two of the receipts were written by the same person.
  4. The analysis found that one of the receipts had been written out while resting on another receipt said to be from a mosque 40 miles away. [85]

Dean Godson on Newsnight on 12 December 2007. Godson accused Newsnight editor Peter Barron of 'disastrous editorial misjudgement' and 'appalling stewardship'.

On 12 December 2007, Newsnight ran a report on these concerns, followed by a studio discussion between Jeremy Paxman and Dean Godson, during which Godson accused Barron of 'disastrous editorial misjudgement' and of 'appalling stewardship of Newsnight'. [86] In an initial statement the think tank responded: 'the executive of Policy Exchange will meet on Thursday 13th to discuss legal action against the BBC'.[87]A second response the next day stated that 'Policy Exchange is in legal consultations about action in this matter.'[88]The BBC responded: 'Policy Exchange's statement is misleading in many ways and doesn't answer the simple question raised by Newsnight's film. Given that the Policy Exchange report was based on the testimony of the researchers who gathered the receipts, do they believe all the receipts are genuine?'[89] In the Daily Telegraph on 15 December, Policy Exchange Chairman Charles Moore accused Peter Barron of questioning the receipts in order to justify his original decision not to run the report.[90]

On 17 December, The Times issued an apology to Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari of the East London Mosque in connection with its coverage of the report.[91]

In February 2008, Private Eye reported that 'furious Conservatives say they've no option but to sue or take a dossier on Peter Barron, Newsnight's editor, to the BBC's senior management.' [92] In a letter in the following issue, Barron responded 'Policy Exchange promised to investigate these discrepancies, but two months later they have still not said if they believe these receipts are genuine.' [93]

Policy Exchange did not bring its threatened legal action against the BBC but in September 2008, the North London Central Mosque issued a writ in the High Court over the report's allegations. [94] The case came to the High Court in December 2009 but was struck out by the Judge on the basis that the Trust could not sue in defamation as it was not a corporate entity or legal person. [95]

In March 2009, the report appeared to have been removed from the Policy Exchange website, where the following statement appeared:

The Hijacking of British Islam:
Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre
In this report we state that Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre is one of the Centres where extremist literature was found. Policy Exchange accepts the Centre’s assurances that none of the literature cited in the Report has ever been sold or distributed at the Centre with the knowledge or consent of the Centre’s trustees or staff, who condemn the extremist and intolerant views set out in such literature. We are happy to set the record straight.[96][97]

2019 report on counter-terrorism and Islamophobia

Health reform

On health policy, Policy Exchange says it is "committed to the values of the NHS in providing universal healthcare for all', although it believes that "private sector companies and third sector providers can play a key role in delivering what patients want from a modern National Health Service", ie not an NHS free at the point of need.

Health people

  • Max Chambers, Senior Research Fellow - Health: Max Chambers joined Policy Exchange in February 2009. He is Senior Research Fellow, leading Policy Exchange’s Health and Social Care programme and contributing to the Crime and Justice Unit. Before joining Policy Exchange, Max worked as a researcher for the Shadow Justice and Home Affairs teams in Parliament, and was involved with a number of the Conservative Party’s crime and justice policy reviews.[98]
  • Henry Featherstone, ex-Head of Health and Social Care (dates tbc). In August 2010 Featherstone joined Fleishman-Hillard’s London healthcare public affairs and corporate communications team as a senior policy adviser. Prior to this Henry worked in the NHS as a junior doctor and also spent several years working in Parliament for a number of leading Conservative politicians, including Archie Norman, Francis Maude and Greg Clark. More recently he was chief of staff to James Arbuthnot MP, chairman of the Defence Select Committee.[99]

Health publications

  • Incentivising Wellness: Improving the treatment of long-term conditions, by Henry Featherstone and Lilly Whitham, November 2010. This report claims that the NHS has proved to be bad at adopting new technologies "such as insulin pumps" that could cut costs radically and help keep patients with chronic conditions like diabetes healthier. According to the authors, "the best way of getting the NHS to adopt new technologies is to encourage new players to enter the health service." "Newly formed GP consortia of the sort envisaged by Andrew Lansley's White Paper, it claims, would be ideally-placed to pilot new business models which focus specifically on long-term condition management.[100] The report was funded by Vodafone and MSD (Merck and Schering-Plough).
  • Future Foundations: towards a new culture in the NHS, by Bill Moyes and Paul Corrigan, edited by Henry Featherstone, published 18 March 2010. [101] Argues that centralised control by government undermines the autonomy of foundation trusts needed for change and innovation.
  • The Cost of Cancer, by Henry Featherstone and Lilly Whitham, published 17 February 2010. [102] This report highlights late diagnosis of cancer in the UK, poor survival rates for older people and those in deprived communities, and - again - the relatively poor take up of new treatments and technologies by the NHS. Report funded by Roche.
  • Controlling Public Spending: The NHS in a period of tight funding, by Henry Featherstone and Natalie Evans, published 7 January 2010. [103] This report was sponsored by Tribal
  • Which Doctor? Putting patients in control of primary care, by Henry Featherstone and Carol Storey, with foreword by Julian Le Grand published 22 December 2009. [104] This report proposes that the ban on the sale of goodwill attached to GPs - ie the value associated with the popularity of a GP practice - should be overturned. This would increase their value and lead to more private investors buying up and trading practices.[105]
  • Hitting the Bottle, by Henry Featherstone and Carol Storey, published 26 May 2009. [106]
  • Weighing In, by Jamie Burn, published 10 November 2008. [107]

The above is a selection - for a comprehensive archive see: http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/research_areas/health.cgi?topic_id=8&related=publications

Welfare reform

The attack on the Spirit Level

Wilkinson and Pickett's book the Spirit Level was criticised in a series of reports by the Taxpayers' Alliance, the Democracy Institute and Policy Exchange. The criticisms from Policy Exchange and the Taxpayers' Alliance were published just 24 hours apart.[108][109]

Media exposure

Newspaper Number of items
The Times and The Sunday Times 288
The Guardian and the Observer 271
The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph 257
The Independent and Independent on Sunday 131
Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday 104
The Express and The Sunday Express 76
The Mirror and The Sunday Mirror 44
The Daily Star 20
The Business 11
Morning Star 3
The People 3
Total: 1208

The table on the rights gives an indication of Policy Exchange’s media presence in UK national newspapers. It shows the number of items contained in the Lexis Nexis newspaper database group ‘UK National Newspapers’ between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2009 referring to Policy Exchange. [110] The great majority of the press coverage is from the broadsheets, followed by the mid-market Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

It should be noted that these figures are not 100 per cent accurate since Lexis Nexis often includes duplicated articles in its database. It should also be noted that this quantitative data does not necessarily represent favourable or uncritical coverage.

Funding and finances

Graph from the Charity Commission showing Policy Exchange's financial history.

In its early years, Policy Exchange was a medium-sized think-tank, operating on an annual income of around half a million pounds. However after David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative Party its income increased substantially.

In financial statements made up to 30 September 2008, the think-tank reported receiving over £2.6 million. This figure put Policy Exchange ahead of the New Labour affiliated think-tank Demos, which saw its income decline over the same period, but still behind the Institute for Public Policy Research, which has enjoyed an income of over £3 million for several years.

Policy Exchange's main source of income has been through donations, some of the most significant of which have come from Peter Cruddas who (via the Peter Cruddas Foundation) donated £140,000 in 2007/8, £300,000 in 2008/9, and £120,000 in 2009/10.[111] However, the think-tank also receives significant funding through the sponsorship of research and its 'Business Forum', which is part of the think-tank's 'Corporate Engagement'. [112] In early 2006 PR Week reported that companies were paying £5,000 to £10,000 to be part of the forum, and that members included BP, SAB Miller, BSkyB and Bupa. [113] Policy Exchange states that corporations cannot commission research, but that they can 'contribute ideas and give advice to Policy Exchange’s research programme[s]'. [114] In its 2008 accounts, Policy Exchange reported that:

The activities of the Business Forum group made a particularly strong contribution to fundraising during the period, with the number of members more than doubling to 27. The Policy Exchange Business Forum exists to engage corporates in the research work of the charity, by hosting regular round table events where members can come together to listen to influential policy makers and discuss the issues raised. Many members went on to work directly with our research teams by giving financial and/or research support. [115]

Source of Income 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Donations £67,030 £359,794 £435,066 £473,296 £796,689 £1,143,266
Research sponsorship - £12,500 £57,310 £55,342 £41,000 £506,022
Business Forum membership- £2,348 £18,930 £3,639 £46,417 £90,875
Sale of Reports - £961 £963 £2,191 £2,294 £12,875
Localis Research [116] - £10,297 £15,035 £30,000 £14,250 £20,000
Corporate Event Sponsorship - - - - £78,133 -
Management charges £7,909 £33,767 - - - -
Premises charges £7,500 £24,750 - - - -
Interest received - £236 £2,651 £3,735 £3,775 £11,958
Miscellaneous income - - - - £1,074 £1,829
Total Income £82,439 £444,653 £529,955 £568,203 £983,632 £1,786,825

The table on the right consolidates information on the sources of Policy Exchange’s income from 2002 to 2007 as provided in its annual financial statements.

The financial statements are made up to 30 September in each reporting year, meaning for example that the figures for 2007 here represent not that calendar year but the period from 1 October 2006 to 30 September 2007.

Although available, information from the think-tank’s 2008 financial statements have not been included in this table as they no longer provide as detailed a breakdown of the various sources of income. From October 2007, income from donations and research sponsorship are given as one lump some (reported as ‘Voluntary Income’), and Business Forum membership, the sale of reports and other sources of income are given as another lump sum (reported as ‘Activities for generating funds’). [117]

Financial Statements
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2002
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2003
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2004
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2005
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2006
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2007
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2008
Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2009


Policy Exchange Business Forum | American Friends of Policy Exchange


In the Dispatches programme ‘Politicians for Hire’, broadcast on 22 March 2010, Patricia Hewitt recommended Policy Exchange as a think-tank which could be used by corporations seeking to influence government policy. Dispatches had set up a fictional US public affairs company and contacted Hewitt and several senior politicians asking them if they were interested in a position on the advisory board in their London office. Hewitt attended a bogus interview and told the undercover reporter:

“Now the think tank and the seminar route I think is a very good one and will remain a good one and so identifying the right think-tank. Policy Exchange is a good one at the moment, Demos is another good one. And saying ok, does that think tank already have a relationship with Minister X? Can we invite Minister X to give a seminar on this subject? Your client would then sponsor the seminar and you do it via the think-tank. And that’s very useful, because what you get for your sponsorship is basically you sit next to the Minister.” [119]

The Ideas Space, where Policy Exchange holds the majority of its events.

In an undercover investigation conducted in June and July 2011, Bell Pottinger Public Affairs recommended a Policy Exchange event as a root to influencing UK government policy. The firm's managing director, Tim Collins, also recommended a meeting with its Chairman Daniel Finkelstein, who he said was very close to David Cameron.[120]

The majority of Policy Exchange's seminars, conferences, roundtables and debates are held at what it calls The Ideas Space - an events venue in Policy Exchange's HQ in Clutha House.

Event on British Muslims

In August 2006 Policy Exchange hosted a seminar the title of which was 'Why Are Britain's Universities Incubating Islamist Extremism?'. [121] It was attended by right-wing figures including Anthony Glees, the author of When Students Turn to Terror; the Scottish academic Tom Gallagher; and the right-wing Irish historian Ruth Dudley Edwards.

In an online article promoting the event [122] and at the seminar itself, [123] Tom Gallagher argued that a main cause of 'radicalisation' amongst young Muslims was not injustice, but that Muslim students are not intellectually capable of achieving in higher education.

Fringe Events

Conservative Party Conference

  • 29 September 2014
Can Britain ever build 300,000 homes a year? Chaired by Isabel Hardman, speakers: Brandon Lewis MP, Jeremy Greenwood, Shaun Spiers and Chris Walker
Are UK energy consumers getting a good deal? Amber Rudd MP, Simon Moore, Ian Peters and Professor George Yarrow.
Building Britain: Are Garden Cities the key to delivering the growth and homes we need? Chaired by Rafael Behr, speakers: Richard Blakeway, David Cowans, Chris Walker and Dr Nigel Wilson.
Why on earth does going to university cost so much money? Achieving financial sustainability in the English HE system. Chaired by John Gill, speakers: Margot James MP, Carl Lygo, Nick Ratcliffe and Jonathan Simons.
Squaring the Circle: Can new infrastructure investment and NIMBYism co-exist? Chaired by James Kirkup, speakers: Nadhim Zahawi MP, Steve Hughes and Nigel Milton.
City Living: What can the Conservatives do to win more urban seats? Chaired by Nick Faith, speakers Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Richard Harrington MP, Michael Liebreich and Paul Uppal MP.
New Champions: Unlocking the skills and growth potential of unexploited sectors in the UK economy. Chaired by Nick Faith, speakers: Nick Boles MP, Peter Gowers, Ufi Ibrahim, Dr Gerard Lyons and The Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG.
Benefits Street: What more needs to be done to help people into work? Chaired by Allegra Statton, speakers: Mark Hoban MP, Steve Hughes and Deirdre Kelly.
Markets for the Many? How the British public can share in the UK's financial markets. Chaired by Nick Faith, speakers: Jesse Norman MP, John McTernan and Xavier Rolet.
  • 30 September 2014
What is the next stage of the Conservative's schools revolution? Chaired by: Alice Thomson, speakers: Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Lucy Heller, James O'Shaughnessy and Jonathan Simons.
Markets and Enterprise: Making the recovery work for the many. Chaired by Iain Martin, speakers: Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Steve Hughes, Senator Philip Ozouf and James Sproule.
How can UK Plc innovate to help Britain win the global race? Chaired by Kamal Ahmed, speakers: Nadhim Zahawi MP, Gerard Grech, Steve Hughes and Adrian Letts.
Fast and Furious: How can we make Britain a dynamic, fast growth, entrepreneurial economy? Chaired by James Quinn, speakers: David Gauke MP, Andrew Churchill and Ian Stewart.
Five Million Points of Light: Getting Britain's small businesses finance ready. Chaired by Ian King, speakers: Matthew Hancock MP, Ed Conway, Steve Hughes, Fiona Laffan and Adam Whitehouse.
Made in Britain: Skills, manufacturing and a modern enterprise policy. Speakers: Graham Stuart MP, Andrew McCall, Gavin Poole, Jonathan Simons and Alice Taylor.
Build in my backyard: How can the UK get new energy infrastructure built? Chaired by James Quinn, speakers: Tim Yeo MP, Simon Moore, Ben Page, Matthew Pencharz and Gabe Winn.
Open Data, Big Data and Privacy. Chaired by Eddie Copeland, speakers: Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Dominic Campbell, Heather Savory and Martin Tisné.[124]
  • September 2016: according to the Morning Star they 'staged a quite barmy rally against the so-called sugar tax' (paid by the British Soft Drinks Association).
'Policy Exchange had a great big tent inside the secure zone of Tory conference, prominently erected at the entrance to the main hall. About 150 delegates squished into the marquee to listen to the meeting on “[W]ill taxing soft drinks create more economic harm than benefit?” [...] The speakers were Gavin Partington, head of the British Soft Drinks Association (against the tax), a doctor (against the tax) a 'commentator' (against the tax) and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP (against the tax).'
The doctor was actually Rachel Joyce, a Tory party activist and former adviser to Andrew Lansley. She told Morning Star reporters that the sugar tax was a 'token gesture' and that 'personal responsibility,' not the tax, was the real answer. The 'commentator' was Christopher Snowdon, from the free market Institute of Economic Affairs, author of a much-criticised 2014 report arguing that 'anti-market policies aimed at the whole population such as fat taxes will do nothing for the nation’s health'. Jacob Rees-Mogg argued that: 'Seventy-five per cent of us are not obese and why should we be taxed for something that isn’t doing us any harm,' adding that the tax meant 'taking away a periodic treat' from the 'poorest in society' and asking, 'If people are living on marginal incomes, do you really want to hit them harder?. [125]

Labour Party Conference

  • 22 September 2014
Can Britain ever build 300,000 homes a year? Chaired by Isabel Hardman, speakers: Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, Jeremy Greenwood, Shaun Spiers and Chris Walker.
Fast and Furious: How can we make Britain a dynamic, fast growth, entrepreneurial economy? Chaired by James Quinn, speakers: Iain Wright, David Barnes and Steve Hughes.
Will a price freeze destroy the energy market? Chaired by Damian Carrington, speakers: Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP, Peter Atherton, Simon Moore and Dr Michael Pollitt.
Markets and Enterprise: Making the recovery work for the many. Chaired by Craig Woodhouse, speakers: The Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, Senator Ian Gorst, Steve Hughes and Tom Mludzinski.
Made in Britain: Skills, manufacturing and a modern enterprise policy. Chaired by: Afua Hirsch, speakers: Adrian Bailey MP, Simon Milner, Gavin Poole, Jonathan Simons and Andy Westwood.
  • 23 September 2014
Why on earth does going to university cost so much money? Achieving financial sustainability in the English HE system. Chaired by Alex Bols, speakers: Rt Hon John Denham MP, Carl Lygo, Toni Pearce and Jonathan Simons.
Five Million Points of Light: Getting Britain's small businesses finance ready. Chaired by Ian King. speakers: Ian Murray MP, Steve Hughes, Fiona Laffan and Gary Vizard.
Parent Led Academies, Directors of School Standards and Collaboration for all: What should Labour promise on schools in 2015? Chaired by George Eaton, speakers: Tristram Hunt MP, John Blake, Chris Keates, Laura McInerney and Jonathan Simons.
How can UK Plc innovate to help Britain win the global race? Rt Hon David Lammy MP, Steve Hughes, Adrian Letts and Maggie Philbin.[124]

Liberal Democrats Party Conference

  • Monday 6th October
Can Britain ever build 300,000 homes a year? Chaired by Isabel Hardman, speakers: Stephen Williams, Jeremy Greenwood, Neil Sinden and Chris Walker.
  • Tuesday 7th October
Fast and Furious: How can we make Britain a dynamic, fast growth, entrepreneurial economy? Speakers: Jeremy Browne MP, Steve Hughes, Ian Steele and Mike Welch.
How can UK Plc innovate to help Britain win the global race? Speakers: Jeremy Browne MP, Steve Hughes and Angela Maurer.[124]

Publications on counter-terrorism and extremism

External Resources

Internet Archive Wayback Machine, policyexchange.org.uk


Former adress:
Clutha House
10 Storey's Gate
London SW1P 3AY
Telephone: 020 7340 2650
Fax: 020 7222 5859
Email: info@policyexchange.org.uk

Current address:
8-10 Great George St
London SW1P 3AE
Telephone: 0207 340 2650
Email: info@policyexchange.org.uk


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  19. Andy Beckett, ‘What can they be thinking?’, Guardian, 26 September 2008.
  20. David Hencke, ‘The new Conservative generation’, Guardian, 7 June 2008
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  37. Mayor appoints Policy Director, Greater London Authority, 21 July 2008
  38. Anthony Browne leaves Policy Exchange to become Boris Johnson's Policy Director, ToryDiary, ConservativeHome, 21 July 2008.
  39. David Hencke, A change in the political weather, guardian.co.uk, 22 July 2008.
  40. Robert Watts and Jonathan Oliver, 'Boris Tory HQ team puts reins on Boris Johnson', Sunday Times, 11 May 2008.
  41. Andrew Grice, 'Talent 2010: The politician, Nick Boles', Independent, 26 December 2009.
  42. Adam Branson, 'Ire starter - Neil O'Brien, director, Policy Exchange', Regeneration and Renewal, 8 June 2009
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  56. The data displayed in this chart is based on the total number of events and publications as listed on the Policy Exchange website on 3 January 2011.
  57. PDF Copy of <http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/about/> created 9 April 2010
  58. PDF Copy of <http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/about/> created 9 April 2010
  59. The data displayed in this chart is based on the total number of events and publications as listed on the Policy Exchange website on 3 January 2011. The graph shows the think-tanks significant expansion since its launch in 2003.
  60. Screengrab of <http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/research_areas/foreign_policy_and_security.cgi> created 9 April 2010.
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  62. Roger Gough (ed.), Regime Change - It's Been Done Before (Policy Exchange, May 2003)
  63. Tom Bower, Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge, (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006) p.138.
  64. Conrad Black, ‘Conrad Black is sentenced to 6½ years in jail – after festive season is over’, The Times, 11 December 2007.
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  66. e.g. Julian Flanagan, ‘Douglas Hurd: “I am not brilliant. Not a great original”’, Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2010.
  67. Roger Gough (ed.), Regime Change - It's Been Done Before (Policy Exchange, May 2003)
  68. Anna Reid (ed.), Taming Terrorism (Policy Exchange, February 2005) p.13.
  69. Maggie Brown, ‘Newland unleashed’, Guardian, 15 November 2004.
  70. 12 June 2006
  71. 13 August 2006
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  78. Britain: our values, our responsibilities, Ruth Kelly, Communities and Local Government, 11 October 2006.
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  84. Sean O'Neill, Lessons in hate found at leading mosques, The Times, 30 October 2007.
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  93. Receipt deceit? by Peter Barron, Private Eye No.1204, 22 February-6 March 2008, p.15
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  100. Policy Exchange, Incentivising Wellness: Improving the treatment of long-term conditions, 25 November 2010
  101. Policy Exchange, Future Foundations: towards a new culture in the NHS, 18 March 2010
  102. Policy Exchange, The Cost of Cancer, 17 February 2010
  103. Policy Exchange, Controlling Public Spending: The NHS in a period of tight funding, 7 January 2010
  104. Policy Exchange, Which Doctor? Putting patients in control of primary care, 22 December 2009
  105. Healthcare REpublic, Think tank suggests end of ban on sale of goodwill, 14 Jan 2010
  106. Policy Exchange, Hitting the Bottle,26 May 2009
  107. Policy Exchange, Weighing In,10 November 2008
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  110. Details of the search are as follows: UK National Newspapers (policy exchange) AND DATE(>=2000-01-01 and <=2009-12-31). The original search returned 1254 items in total. 46 items grouped as News International Newspapers Information Services Ltd were excluded. Of the 28 items grouped by Lexis Nexis as 'The Express Newspapers', eight items were from The Express and 20 from the Daily Star. These have been grouped separately in the table.
  111. See the Peter Cruddas Foundation
  112. PDF Copy of <http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/forum/> created 11 February 2010
  113. Ravi Chandiramani, 'British politics is hotting up at last and PA professionals are preparing for the change in leadership and policy', PR Week, 16 February 2006.
  114. PDF Copy of <http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/forum/> created 11 February 2010
  115. Policy Exchange Financial Statements made up to 30 September 2008, p.4
  116. This income is described in the 2007 accounts as ‘Share of research projects paid by Localis Research Ltd’. In the previous statements it is referred to as ‘Recharge of research projects to Localis Research Ltd’
  117. The 2008 Financial Statements do not provide even this information as to what makes up the income reported as ‘Voluntary Income’ or ‘Activities for generating funds’, rather this has been deduced from a comparison with the figures given in the 2007 accounts. The figure on page 6 of the 2008 accounts for ‘Voluntary Income’ in the previous year is equal to the total income from donations and research sponsorship in the 2007 accounts. Similarly the figure given there for ‘Activities for generating funds’ is equal to the aggregate amount given in the 2007 accounts for business forum membership, the sale of reports and the share of research projects paid by Localis Research Ltd.
  118. Tom Griffin Government by Think tank: The Return of Policy Exchange, Byline Times. 13 February 2023.
  119. Patricia Hewitt. Interview. In: Dispatches, ‘Politicians for Hire’, Channel 4, 22 March 2010, 20:00 hrs.
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  122. Tom Gallagher, 'Wrong Muslim voices on campus', The First Post, 21 August 2006. [PDF created 25 February 2010]
  123. Ruth Dudley-Edwards, ‘Fundamentalist Lessons to be learnt by Irish Academe', Sunday Independent (Ireland), 27 August 2006.
  124. 124.0 124.1 124.2 EventsPolicy Exchange, undated, accessed 2 October 2014
  125. Solomon Hughes, Obesity Warning: Fat Cats’ Pimps At Work, Morning Star, 14 October 2016. Accessed 17 October 2016.