No thank you, I don’t want my own think-tank.


Charlie Brooker has written an amusing article on how distressed he was to discover that Gideon ‘George’ Osborne is younger than him.

“In my head, senior politicians are supposed to be older than I am – for ever. No matter how much I age, part of their job is to be older and drier than me. At 38, Osborne feels too young for the world of politics.”

I experienced similar feelings the other day when I read that the founder of a new Tory-supporting think-tank is only 24 years of age. Age 24! The same as me! And she has founded herself a think-tank!

The only thing I have found of note recently is an old copy of the Big Issue that contains a picture of one of my fellow Paintbrushers with John Bird. I found it hidden away in a drawer. It’s not going to look so impressive on my CV.

The Financial Times’ profiling of “the new generation of thinkers, pundits and money men vying for influence on a future Cameron government” includes this:

Name: Rachel Wolf

Position: founder of a think-tank

Age: 24

CV: studied natural sciences at Cambridge before becoming a political adviser to the Tories. She was special adviser to Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, before leaving to set up her own education think-tank, due to launch this autumn.

Between the lines: young but very connected to the Cameroon hierarchy (and the daughter of FT columnist Martin Wolf).

Influence on Tory high command: the role of her new think-tank in promoting Swedish-style independently run “free schools”, of the type advocated by the Tories, could make Wolf an important voice in the debate on public services.

To left or right of Cameroons? Attuned to modernising, centrist message.

Wolf’s think-tank is to be called the New Schools Network and its raison d’etre is to support the Tory proposals on school vouchers. It is supposed to be up and running this month (but does not yet seem to have a website).

I am impressed that Miss Wolf has managed to become such an expert on how to improve Britain’s schools after studying Natural Sciences at some provincial institution called ‘Cambridge’ and then working as a Tory political adviser for a couple of years.

Yes, I may well I be envious of her achievement, but in all honesty I do not think I could run my own policy think-tank. You surely need a high-level of policy wonk expertise or to be sufficiently adept at bullshitting.

In addition to this, British politics is already far too full of people from privileged backgrounds who are undoubtedly skillful players inside the Westminster Bubble but who lack any sort of genuine experience in the world they are seeking to influence.

There must be a better way of coming up with policy ideas.


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