Policy Institute

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Group.png Policy Institute Powerbase
Type think tank
Website http://www.policyinstitute.info/

The Policy Institute was a think tank created to coincide with the first election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999. It was strongly associated with and indeed for a time based in the offices of the Scotsman the Barclay Brothers newspaper and took a strong neoliberal and pro-market line. In September 2008 it dissolved itself into the new neoliberal think tank Reform Scotland.[1]

According to the account of Hartwig pautz a doctoral student at Glasgow Caledonian University:

The Policy Institute's (PI) foundation co-incided with the first election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999. It is institutionally independent from any political party. Bill Jamieson, senior journalist at the right-leaning The Scotsman broadsheet (owned by the Barclay Brothers, is the Director of the PI, which has no office, 'only a desk at the Scotsman', as its Executive Director Tom Miers phrased it. He is the only salaried member of the PI, joined the PI in May 2003 'to run the institute on a more full-time basis'. He formerly worked for the IEA in an administrative role. He described The Scotsman as very generous in allocating logistic re-sources to the PI and allowing a senior member of its staff to re-dedicate some of his time to the institute. Jamieson has been a frequent guest at the IEA and at the Bruges Group - a Thatcherite committed to a fight against deeper UK integration into the EU. The PI's board of trustees is less impressive than that of other more established Scottish think-tanks such as the David Hume Institute and the Scottish Council Foundation. It is composed of The Scotsman pundit Katie Grant, a top manager of Scottish Friendly Assurance Colin McLean, and Allan Massie, a journalist-turned-writer.
In the Scottish think-tank world, the David Hume Institute and the PI share a similar ideological background, but differ in their style. The DHI is more academic and more restrained than the polemic pro-market philosophy of the PI, which has likened the NHS to Soviet-style bureaucracy and generally demands that the forces of the free market are let loose on the public sector. This goal is fuelled by the PI's "mission and [its] purpose, which is broadly to research how the classical liberal ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment [...] can be applied to modern Scotland". The PI is a multi-issue think-tank that concentrates exclusively on Scotland's economy, public services, environmental and agricultural policies, and modernisation of governance. As it has no in-house expertise, scholars from the relevant fields are commissioned to write papers and newspaper contributions, so that the PI faciliates policy learning processes. The PI belonges to the neo-liberal privatisation advocacy community. The PI also has some features of a vanity think-tank, as it is the brainchild and hobbyhorse of a conservative journalist at odds with the perceived leftist Scottish consensus. It certainly serves the Scotsman as a reliable source for neo-liberal leaders and opinion pieces and, in a reciprocal process, as a further outlet of broadsheet's political views.[2]

Activities

Water

The Policy Institute, prior to their merger with Reform Scotland [3] published some commentaries on Scottish Water. Amongst these was a paper they commissioned Colin Robinson to write. This paper, 'Reviving The Scottish Water Industry' recommended a liberalised, competitive framework alongside the privatisation of the industry [4].

David Bell and Donald Mackay wrote a paper for the Policy Institute titled Political Economy of Devolution. According to Bill Jamieson their central point in the paper is how 'public spending is too high in Scotland, and this has a number of damaging economic and political effects' [5]. One of their main proposals regards cutting back on public spending is the privatisation of Scottish Water [6].


Funding

Of the PI's sponsors since 2003 about half were trusts, such as the Tay Charitable Trust and the Binks Trust. Companies, e.g. Scottish Equitable, Holyrood Holdings (Barclay Bros holding company for Telegraph Media Group, The Scotsman, the Spectator Magazine, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News), and Stagecoach, the trade association Federation of Small Business and individuals make up the other half.

People

Director Bill Jamieson | Executive DirectorTom Miers | Research Director Brian Monteith | Press OfficerNeil Rafferty

Trustees

Prof. Peter Jones | Sir Donald MacKay | Colin McLean | Allan Massie | Andrew Neil | Prof. Sir Alan Peacock | Amy Rafferty


References

  1. Policy Institute Policy Institute Merges With Reform Scotland Accessed January 5th 2009
  2. Hartwig Pautz, "Think-Tanks in Scotland", paper given at the 55th Political Studies Association Annual Conference, 4-7 April 2005 - University of Leeds, p. 6, accessed January 2009.
  3. Policy Institute Policy Institute Merges With Reform Scotland Accessed January 5th 2009
  4. Policy Institute, Colin Robinson Reviving The Scottish Water Industry Series: Economy No. 9 (March 2005)
  5. Policy Institute, Professor Sir Donald Mackay & Professor David Bell The Political Economy Of Devolution Series: Economy No. 12 (September 2006) (p3)
  6. Policy Institute, Professor Sir Donald Mackay & Professor David Bell The Political Economy Of Devolution Series: Economy No. 12 (September 2006) (p39)