CentreForum, the closest thing the Liberal Democrats have had to a think tank, is narrowing its activities to focus primarily on education and children’s mental health, with David Laws joining the team to head up that work.
As there were some question marks over its future, its continued existence (with, I understand, increased financial support from its leading light Paul Marshall) is very welcome. However, by focusing on education it means just at a time when the Liberal Democrats need more friendly external groups generating policy ideas, it will actually in effect by losing one. That’s a shame, even if the topic of focus is a long-standing concern for Lib Dems and even though the think tank’s ideas haven’t always been popular in the party.
Here’s the press release in full (including the use of “going forward”, ugh).
CentreForum are pleased to announce that David Laws, former Minister of State for the Cabinet Office as well as Minister of State for Schools, is joining the liberal think tank as Executive Chairman, overseeing a new body of work on education policy. This is part of a move by CentreForum to refocus on the core work of the think tank, which will be education and children’s mental health going forward, although projects will continue to be undertaken in other policy areas in which liberal solutions are called for.
At the same time, Nick Tyrone, who was Associate Director, External Affairs, will now become Executive Director, responsible for the day to day running of CentreForum.
Stephen Lee is resigning as Chief Executive to take up new opportunities in the academic world. Commenting on his departure, Paul Marshall, who is succeeding Duncan Greenland as Chair of the Trustees, said:
“Stephen has made a great contribution to the development of CentreForum and to its impact on public policy in the second half of the Coalition government. We are especially grateful for the pioneering work he has done on mental health issues, which now make up a core part of the Centreforum franchise.”
David Laws said:
“CentreForum has established a formidable reputation as a think tank, not least in the area of education and social mobility. I am delighted to have this opportunity to oversee the work of CentreForum, particularly in its core areas of education and children’s mental health – areas which I have a strong personal commitment to.”