Paragon Official

The Paragon Initiative

The Institute of Economic Affairs, one of the most serious and respected think-tanks in Britain, last year launched its Paragon Initiative, which will evaluate everything the state does in order to see whether it is necessary…. the state is too big, and the mentality that public spending is inevitably inherently good has been allowed to sink its roots too deeply into Conservative thought.” – Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph

Welcome to The Paragon Initiative, the most comprehensive project ever undertaken by the IEA.

This five year programme will provide a fundamental reassessment of what Government should – and shouldn’t – do. It will put every area of government activity under the microscope and analyse the failure of current policies.

Drawing on best practice from around the world, it will put forward clear and considered solutions to the UK’s problems. And it will identify the areas of Government activity that can be put back in the hands of individuals, families, civil society, local government, charities and the markets.

Through a comprehensive and compelling series of books, papers, films, events and more, The Paragon Initiative will provide a clear vision of a new relationship between the state and society.

And, ultimately, it will create a blueprint for a better, freer Britain.

You can see an introduction to The Paragon Initiative on ieaTV here.

Click here if you would like to read more about Paragon’s upcoming publications and event schedule.

Click here for an introductory booklet about The Paragon Initiative.

If you would like to support The Paragon Initiative, you can do so by printing this pledge form.

Read our first paper, an introduction to the project here. It lays out the scale of the problem that the UK faces – poor outcomes in public services, budget blow outs and over-centralisation.


Without Delay – This paper, by the Head of the IEA’s Transport Unit Dr Richard Wellings, looks at how to get Britain’s railways moving again.

Without Delay cover

After the re-nationaisation of rail infrastructure we have seen crisis after crisis in Network Rail, with poor outcomes and continued high subsidies. The rail sector is a good example of how over-regulation and political pressure can prevent privatisation from delivering the expected benefits.

Instead, there should be a new model for National Rail, weaning the sector off government support and allowing mergers and demergers to allow a more cost-effective model to evolve. This may well result in more vertical integration.

The rail industry should also be free to change their pricing structures, with the introduction of ‘super-peak’ fares, standing only carriages and less service for unpopular lines.

You can read the book here.

Federal Britain: The case for decentralisation – The first paper released was on  federalism and the UK, by IEA Editorial and Programme Director Prof Philip Booth.

Devo cover

In the book, Philip argues that Britain is the most centralised nation in the world, and that  there could be significant economic benefits from devolving power from the central  government to local and national governments. He also argues that, thanks to the  evolution of the British constitution, devolution has been ad-hoc and is not fit for purpose.

He calls for a new federal UK, with a small UK-wide government with powers over  defence, immigration and foreign affairs, and that all other powers be devolved to either  national assemblies or local councils.

These new powers should also be matched with the devolution of tax-raising powers – no  level of government should spend money it does not raise.

You can read the book online here.

Diagnosis: Overrated – This paper, by IEA Head of Health and Welfare Dr Kristian Niemietz, focussed on the myths surrounding the formation of the National Health Service.

DP66_Diagnosis Overrated_cover

He further claims that these myths have given the NHS a privileged position as a ‘sacrosanct’ institution, making necessary reforms difficult and preventing even the discussion of changes.

Finally, he discusses the NHS model and how well it works compared to other countries. Unfortunately, especially as far as providing individualised care to older patients is concerned, the NHS often compares poorly to other European and Anglosphere nations.

You can read the paper online here.

We launched The Paragon Initiative on October 28th, and you can see some highlights from our event below. Amongst our speakers we had a Conservative MP, a Labour former advisor to Tony Blair, and a former member of the Radical Communist Party…

First to speak was Martin Durkin – you can watch his address here

Second was John McTernan – his speech is here.

Finally was the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, and his remarks can be found here.