I managed to catch the end of News at Ten’s bulletin on ITV last night. This “And Finally” slot used to be reserved for cute animal stories. Instead it pilloried the new Policy Exchange report for arguing that traditional approaches to regeneration do not work and that people from depressed northern places ought to up sticks and come darn sarf. The words “moaning minnies” (TM-ed by Thatcher) were not used to my knowledge but that was the implication. The ITN cameras poked their way into a radio studio in Liverpool where scorn was heaped upon the conclusions by phone-in callers who suggested that the PE folk should talk a wonder out of their comfort zone to see the 2008 European Capital of Culture for themselves.
It’s fashionable among right wing blog circles to have a go at left think tanks (step forward Guido and Iain Dale on the Smith Institute) but the Policy Exchange lot have done some questionable things to say the least. Even if David Cameron is quoted as calling the report “barmy”, PE’s rightwing leanings were confirmed to many when the last chief left for Boris’ top team and their research into Islamist infiltration in UK mosques was exposed as a sham by Newsnight when they had faked the receipts of extreme material purchased from mosques. As Paul Burgin points out of course Boris has form in attacking Liverpool. Chris Paul labels this latest report as “twaddle”.
In an age where the market is becoming crowded for think tanks at least PE have managed to get themselves some attention but with these wacky if not downright dubious findings, at what cost? Also what type of a name is “Policy Exchange” for pity’s sake? Sounds like Noel Edmond’s Multicoloured “Swap Shop” or something.