We must reject Treasury declinist views on growth

I am very excited to be joining the IEA as Director of Strategy. The IEA, while non-partisan, has a strong claim to be the think tank that created Thatcherism, the revolutionary movement which reshaped the country. As the kind of individual who enjoys reading Thatcher speeches off duty, coming to the IEA feels like coming home.

But those who read Thatcher know she would be disappointed in modern liberal and free market politics. Her core principles, relevant now as ever – stronger individuals within a democratic nation state – need to be reimagined with each age. Sometimes at present free market debates have seemed sterile, dead, finished.

This is despite the fact that our growth rate is anaemic, our politics dysfunctional, our social cohesion at risk, and our society crying out for change – just as in the 1970s.

I was policy lead on the insurgent Kemi Badenoch campaign, drafting speeches and opinion pieces, trying to inject fresh thinking on topics such as the interaction between the so-called culture wars and economics, the dangers of an arbitrary target around Net Zero, a more focused state that allowed sustainable tax cuts, and rejecting Treasury declinist views on growth. The IEA can bring alive these debates with academic incision and forensic analysis to solve the challenges of the 2020s.

The IEA should speak to all supporters of freedom across all parties – building allies on issues such as euthanasia or free speech with Liberal Democrats and Labour supporters, those who stand for liberty across all parties and none. The IEA’s campaigns on post Brexit freedoms helped create the space for change outside the Conservative hierarchy, led by Mark Littlewood’s indomitable spirit of radicalism and restlessness.

What we need now more than ever is the IEA at its best – setting out a bold new paradigm – not following any political party but setting out a lodestar for change others can and will follow. That would be the real way to honour the think tankers and politicians who came before us.

Alex Morton is joining the IEA as Director of Strategy in autumn 2022. He is currently Head of Policy at the Centre for Policy Studies, where he  developed policies on housing, tax and the environment. He was also Kemi Badenoch MP’s chief policy adviser in her recent leadership campaign. Alex was previously a Director at Field Consulting. Before that, he was responsible for local government, housing and planning at the No.10 Policy Unit. Prior to this, he worked at the think tank Policy Exchange, in Parliament, and the Civil Service.

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