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Friday, 1 June 2018

Back to the future for Onwards: a new think tank for t'yoof

It’s been a dazzling few weeks in Westminster village think tank world with tanks close to Conservative Party MPs continuing to make the biggest waves (where do they get their money from?).
‘Onward’ with its plethora of ex-Policy Exchange hands, is the interesting new outfit on the block. But what’s driving this spontaneous flowering of Conservative wonkery? 
It's t’yoof innit? 

The Huffington Post reckons:
‘…many [Tory] MPs realise that unless they can appeal to younger voters the election after the next one could be disastrous.’

So who better to lead this new generation of “second hand dealers in ideas” than…. Michael Gove MP!! 
It's not like he’s been a more-or-less ever present cabinet minister for eight years is it? And as a massive Brexiteer, he'll easily endear himself to young people, surely.
And to top it off, Michael was himself young once.

Here he is on TV in the 80s… being youthful.

Micky will, of course, be partnered by that saviour of Scottish Conservatism, Ruth Davidson.

Anyway, for me it's the collection of ex Policy Exchange staffers, trustees and associated fellow travellers that's notable about this new 'Onwards' outfit (The Times' Sam Coates noted it, the Guido blag noted it too). Former Policy Exchange Trustee Lord 'finger on the pulse of yoof' Finkelstein has apparently signed up, though he's been coy about out it on Twitter, imo. 

Back to the future?
Ex Policy Exchange Comms head, Nigel Faith, is chief among the luminaries heading up this new forward-looking thinky tanky thing. Faith left Policy Exchange to set up lobbying company WPI. There he was joined by ‘respected economist and policy expert’  Matt Oakley, the architect of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit sanctions policy. A policy which, new research, has [again] confirmed has been an absolute catastrophe for young people. Oakley himself formerly worked for Policy Exchange. See Donkey passim.

Another WPI staffer is Guy Miscampbell, someone who seems to be really likeable on social media. Back in 2014, Guy wrote a paper (you guessed it for..... Policy Exchange!) on benefit sanctions. The paper was heavily criticised by academic Dr David Webster a respected benefit sanctions academic, see Donkey passim.
(In passing – and for no other reason than mischief – I must also draw the reader’s attention to another member of the team at WPI – John 'Come to Peckham and say that' McTernan – mastermind of Labour’s 2015 Scottish General Election campaign. The south London slugger is listed as an ‘associate’ at WPI.)

So it’s great to see ‘Onward’ adopting such a forward looking recruitment strategy. I'm sure it will it will soon have much to commend itself by way of further immiserating t’yoof over the coming years.

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