The Week

The Week, 29 September 2017

On Thursday, the Prime Minister made an outspoken defence of the “free market”, responding to the mood of the Labour conference earlier in the week. The Prime Minister did not respond directly, however, to the key Opposition charge which was that public services and the private sector are incompatible. That charge is unfounded; it would be impossible for the NHS to embrace new technology if it banned private sector companies, to take just one example. Theresa May has not given a view during her term in office, however, and indeed the 2017 Conservative manifesto contained criticisms of competition in the NHS.

Andrew Haldenby, Director

Reformer of the week

The Financial Times. The paper’s leader on Friday concluded: “Real reform [of taxation] lowers rates and broadens the base.”

Reactionary of the week

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour Shadow Health Secretary. His pledge of a £500 million emergency fund for the NHS would be the fifth emergency boost in three years. The glacial pace of change in the Service is the bigger problem.

Good week for…

The traditional political debate I

On Wednesday, the Leader of the Opposition argued for a “new model of economic management to replace the failed dogmas of neo-liberalism”.

The traditional political debate II

On Thursday, the Prime Minister said that the “free market economy, operating under the right rules and regulations, is the greatest agent of collective human progress ever created”.

Nice problems to have

On Thursday, a group of German economists argued that the country should respond to its budget surplus with a programme of tax reductions and spending increases.

Bad week for…

Poor value for money

On Tuesday, Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Treasury Minister, said that the Party’s concern with PFI was that it could be poor value for money rather than it was “private”. He was responding to a Reformquestion at a fringe event at the Labour Party conference.

The traditional school funding system

On Thursday, a headteacher wrote to 2.5 million homes, arguing for an end to the historic disparities in school funding between different areas.


On Friday, the Financial Times praised Emmanuel Macron for allowing Siemens to buy Alstom, the maker of the TGV trains “that exemplify France’s engineering prowess”.

Quotes of the week (and the General Election campaign)

“We have already pledged that there will be no new PFI deals signed by us. But we will go further. I can tell you today, it’s what you’ve been calling for. We’ll bring existing PFI contracts back in-house.”

John McDonnell, speaking on Monday

“If the current legislative landscape is either slowing implementation or preventing clear national or local accountability, we will consult and make the necessary legislative changes. This includes the NHS’s own internal market, which can fail to act in the interests of patients and creates costly bureaucracy.”

2017 Conservative Party manifesto

Reform’s Week

The Reformer Blog

On Wednesday, Louis Coiffait, Head of Education at Reform, proposed new ways for teachers to be incentivised to work in more challenging schools.


Reform staff members attended this week’s Labour Party conference and spoke at fringe meetings. Next week, Reform is hosting a range of events at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.