Friday, 15 August 2008

Policy Exchange insults our intelligence

It seems that we have got Policy Exchange's argument all wrong. Actually the report is a complete damp squib as explained by the report's Editor on Conservativehome.

All they were saying is that Oxford, Cambridge and London are more wealthy than some northern towns. It's amazing what the nation's best and brightest can come up with when they really put their minds to it.

This demonstrates that regeneration policy has failed. OK, there is the small fact that many of the towns they discuss have actually improved immeasurably. But unless they catch up with the nation's wealthiest that's irrelevant they are saying. They deny that they are recommending that people should desert the north for the south. It's not about north and south you understand, the examples they gave of relative decline just happened to be in the north and the examples they gave of success just happened to be southern.

It just won't wash. Let's not ignore the fact that one of the report's authors was on television all day on Wednesday telling people that if they wanted to get rich they should leave Liverpool for London. Moreover, it may be that Oliver Marc Hartwich hasn't read the report he edited, but it states quite clearly in the executive summary (p5):

"There is no realistic prospect that our regeneration towns and cities can converge with London and the South East. There is, however, a very real prospect of encouraging significant numbers of people to move from those towns to London and the South East."

Mr Hartwich, I'm going to assume that you have read you report that names you as the Editor. On the basis of that assumption, I am going to request that you stop digging and stop insulting our intelligence.

This Policy Exchange report is insane (David Cameron's word), utterly vacuous, and deliberately offensive. The organisation has an incredible amount of work to do to regain any sort of reputation. If I was them, I would look to understand why they are receiving all these angry emails and issue an apology for a completely ridiculous argument that was designed to provoke. Provoke and anger it did and if Policy Exchange can't understand why then they really do not have a hope.

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