Social Affairs Unit

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The Social Affairs Unit (SAU) describes itself on its website as a charity and says its "role and ambitions are wholly unpolitical". The SAU comprises a group of individuals who study, debate, and publish reports on various cultural, social and economic issues, with an "emphasis on the value of personal responsibility".[1] According to the SAU website, its historians, sociologists, philosophers, doctors and scientists "identify research with a potential to inform public policy and translate it from academic discourse into public debate"[2].

The SAU was founded in 1980 by Julius Gould (professor and director) and Digby Anderson (doctor and chairman). According to its entry on the Intute:Social Sciences website, it was founded "with active encouragement" from the neo-liberal Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)[3]. The SAU remained linked to the IEA until 2005 through the recently deceased Arthur Seldon, former joint founding president of the Institute.

In its early years it was interested in "critical evaluation of the welfare state"[4] and it boasts how many of its ideas, such as parental accountability and local autonomy within education, have made their mark on policy today. Ironically, these areas of policy remain among the most contentious today.

SAU publishes a monthly magazine, Standpoint.[5]

SAU version

According to the SAU in 2002:

The SAU is an independent research and educational trust committed to the promotion of lively and wide-ranging debate on social affairs. Its authors, (over 200), have analyzed the factors which make for a free and orderly society in which enterprise can flourish. It is committed to international co-operation in ideas: e.g. Health Lifestyle and Environment: Countering the Panic with the Manhattan Institute, a forthcoming Anglo-French project on food and alcohol policy, and The Loss of Virtue: Moral Confusion and Social Disorder in Britain and America, also published as a National Review book in the USA, which won the 1994 Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Award for the best book from a think-tank. Current areas of work include consumer affairs, the critical appraisal of welfare and public spending and problems of freedom and personal responsibility.[6]




International Advisory Council

Other contributors and authors


The SAU has taken funding from the tobacco industry. BAT Industries (British American Tobacco) gave it £1,000 in the 1980s[7].

Contact, References and Resources


The Social Affairs Unit
314-322 Regent St
London W1B 5SA
Tel: 020 7637 4356
Fax: 020 7436 8530

Social Affairs Unit website is organised by a blogging company called 'tbbc: the Big Blog' that also manages blogging sites for Ideal Government, Stephen Pollard, Economics UK and Adam Smith Institute.



BBC: Social Affairs Unit - page on the SAU's attacks on the BBC


  • David Conning, A New Diet of Reason: Healthy eating and government policy 1983-1995.
  • Violence, Disorder and Incivility in British Hospitals: The Case for Zero Tolerance (Research Reports), by Theodore Dalrymple, 2002.
  • Douglas Murray, Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, 2005.
  • From Rushdie to 7/7: The Radicalisation of Islam in Britain, by Anthony McRoy, 2005.
  • When Students Turn to Terror: Terrorist and Extremist Activity on British Campuses, by Anthony Glees and Chris Pope, 2005, ISBN 1904863078.
  • Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy, by Oliver Kamm, 2006.
  • The Dotted Red Line: Britain's Defence Policy in the Modern World, by Jeremy Black, 2006, ISBN 1904863132
  • The British Moment: The Case for Democratic Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century, Manifesto of the Henry Jackson Society, 2006.
  • Warning: Immigration Can Seriously Damage Your Wealth, by Anthony Scholefield, 2007.
  • Jeremy Black, The Holocaust, 2008.
  • Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, by Caroline Fourest, with a foreword by Denis MacShane, 2008.
  • The Disrespect Agenda: Or How the Wrong Kind of Niceness Is Making Us Weak and Unhappy, by Lincoln Allison, Forthcoming, 2008.


  1. "About Us", Social Affairs Unit website, accessed November 2008
  2. "Welcome to the Social Affairs Unit Website", Social Affairs Unit website, accessed November 2008
  3. "Social Affairs Unit", Intute website, accessed November 2008
  4. "Social Affairs Unit", Encyclopedia, accessed November 2008
  5. About Us Standpoint(accessed: 7 October 2008)
  6. original urlWeb archive versions
  7. "Donations budget 1986, British American Tobacco collection", p. 3, archived at the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco, accessed November 2008