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  • Writer's pictureDavid Rose

A policy dream team

Tom Graveney’s Top Ten Cricket Book played to something hard to resist. Naming your ‘dream team’, or choosing your ‘best ever’ in just about any field. For example Northamptonshire one day XI; small scale indie-pop gig; Leicester City team since Jock Wallace; or most memorable meals outside London. For no wider reason, other than infinitely preferring reading, thinking about and doing policy to politics, I thought a current Policy Dream Team could be fun. The only parameters for inclusion I set were: · Broadly follow Cabinet (central gov) portfolios

· People I know/knew/have long followed

· People who have or have had a public profile: such as published writers and or think-tank and academic experts, elected politicians, public-facing officials who have done media or been obviously accessible. Minimum requirement is people who at least have a Wikipedia entry or post regularly on Twitter for anyone to see!

Plenty of gaps, I readily admit and suggestions very welcome. Links are from quick Google-ing or one I know, and included brief descriptions only. I can expand on if anyone ever wants.

Members of my Dream Team seem to be across party lines but I think they’re all very much ‘progressive’. Also all are united by having delivered things or developed policy which has been delivered.

This is pragmatism ahead of philosophy. I don’t agree with all they have ever said for sure. However, if they generally stay in the lane I have allocated them, it would be some team. Here goes.

Health · Camilla Cavendish: big picture but detail. Gets politics but brilliant on policy and ‘Extra Time’ was ahead of its time. Would take a wider remit especially social care and education too

· Dr Paul Williams: modest, thoughtful and transformational in what he does - but really quite radical pragmatic ideas on primary care and early years, and has delivered many of them already

· James Friend: one of the most innovative, creative, big picture - micro data and detail people I know. Genuinely inspiring and done the tough stuff as an Acute trust turnaround director, SpAD and even as a banker

· Paul Blakeley: Life Sciences expert, thinker - and dynamic. I can’t include alongside him the inspiring entrepreneur I really want to be on board for Life Sciences research into practice/products, as it doesn’t meet the public figure test

· Dr Lade Smith: a force of nature and one of the smartest people around. A brilliant clinician working in the tough world of Forensic Mental Health and a true leader. I would welcome giving her the time to think and steer others’ thinking about how we could change people’s lives by doing mental healthcare differently

Social care (which sadly still must be separate as true integration around the person seems as far off as ever. I still think it’s going be ‘follow the money’ and shared local and /or national budgets that does it. Unconvinced a National Care Service achieves much out with positioning, but who knows….).

· Jo Cleary: drive, motivation, bravery and much more. She leads from the front, takes on big issues which transform lives from introducing self-directed support (personal budgets – giving the most vulnerable service users and their families freedom to enjoy better quality of lifer) to Domestic Violence and was never afraid to ‘go first’. No longer a Director of Adult Social Care but I would work for her any time any place (like a couple of others on this list).


· Nick Pearce: thoughtful and brilliant. Super knowledgeable and like several of this list done No 10/big policy advisory roles and much more

· Matthew Taylor: as above and from Third Way to much more, one of the sharpest minds in the UK. Now doing a super job in the NHS as a considered, informed and impressive voice for the sector

· Mark Grimshaw: a brilliant Civil Service turnaround CEO who brought multinational customer-focus into how some of the most vulnerable and previously underserved citizens were supported by public services. He would have an ‘is this deliverable?’ focus for sure but would bring creativity and truly effective policy-making and real detailed engineering-like diagnosis and solutions Technology (also happily covering digital and large swathes of how central and local government work with business and the third sector to drive better services and efficiencies).

· Daniel Korski: bursting with ideas and a genuine innovator who has done it with Public, in the heart of government and makes things happen

· Dominic Campbell: one of the best advocates for the public sector but also of changing it. Got design thinking, user (citizen)- led and technology enabled public services ahead of most and knows local government and what it can achieve inside out - and has changed much for real people’s benefit

Finance and regulation

Gillian Tett: the one and only, always insightful and brilliant. I’d ask her to cover cross-sector (ie including non – financial) regulation too. She understands and analyses brilliantly how human-process-behaviours all come together in real life at macro and worms eye level) and how that influences what happens.

Community relations - crime - cohesiveness and ‘grassroots’

This is a broad sweep. Most of my experience is practical and ‘bottom up’. From Police officers to VCSE professionals and genuine community leaders, often at neighbourhood level and often around inspiring but also trying to lead local people at ward or street or other Level. So my key person here who did so much for the Black community in at the time one of the most troubled cities anywhere I can only name as ‘Rankin’. I don’t know if he is still alive. But he would give us remarkable insight. I would also include Dr Jacqui Dyer and give her real power to rethink how we do things. I didn’t want to put Equality, Diversity and Inclusion as a policy area here per se, but it’s at the heart of everything - equality and opportunity for all.


I’m struggling to find anyone to repair the shambles we have made of Further Education (FE) for more than 40 years. Tinkering not transforming and old fashioned thinking have failed young people, local businesses and UK plc.

So my policy comes from Higher Education. I’d happily widen their remit, but there is plenty to tackle with universities and how they prepare people for life in all way, particularly work. There’s even more to be done in FE and schools, so all ideas for who could do it are very welcome.

Professor Francis Corner: an inspirational university leader who thinks way outside any usual boundaries.

I’m not sure I can name the other women I would like include in the team here. She is director of student services for a university, and has an international perspective and modern leadership skills. Again, someone I would love to be given a blank sheet of paper to say, ‘make it work better’.

Arts and Culture

Gavin Barlow and Annabel Turpin: exceptional individually but I have grouped through their work for Future Arts Centres. Hugely influential dynamic CEOs of their own arts centres serving challenging and previously underserved areas. Together have led a sector - changed perceptions and policy nationally. They demonstrate the arts can drive economic and social change by democratising leadership and being, to paraphrase Woody Guthrie, ‘for the people and by the people’. They have shown that the UK can lead in all elements of culture and dispatch elitism. As Tristram Hunt highlighted in his excellent reassessment of ‘Victorian Cities’, culture can be the game-changer when it’s brilliant and is truly led and owned by local people.

And there’s more

In conclusion, I’m light in many areas: climate change and decarbonisation, business, criminal justice, schools and early years in education, foreign policy and global affairs (though there are plenty of diplomatic experts out there whose books I have devoured from Peter Ricketts to Richard Haas; plus exceptional journos and analysts). Nothing for DWP, defence, and other policy areas.

But it’s a start. I think there’s enough star quality to reach at least a policy World Cup semi-final. Comments, ideas, corrections all very welcome.

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