Sunday 28 October 2012

Reform think tank and their links to the Conservative Party

Reform calls itself independent. However the research below brings this claim into question in what appears to be the breaking of the Charity Commission rules for all charities to remain politically independent. Download as PDF

The 'charity’s' claim to independence is based on having one Liberal Democrat (Jeremy Browne) and two Labour members (Lord Warner and MP Frank Field) and a Conservative MP, (Julian Smith) on their advisory team. These however do not represent the overall dominance of the organisation towards the Conservative party, which can be seen by the powerbase, of the founders and trustees. The bullet points below represent a list of these connections.

  • All of the co-founders have links to the Conservative party.
  • Reform is recognised as part of the Conservative party movement by multiple medium including the Conservativehome. 
  • Two MPs to emerge from Reform both belong to the Conservative party
  • Two of the trustees have provided money to individuals in the Conservative party
  • Two of the trustees and a director have advised two Conservative MPs

Three people set up Reform Research Trust in 2002: All have links to the Conservative party.

Andrew Haldenby, Nick Herbert and Patrick Barbour.

Andrew Haldenby: Director was formerly head of the Conservative Research Department (1995-1997), finishing up as Head of the Political Section with responsibility for briefing the Shadow Cabinet and Leader for key media interviews and appearances. Mr Haldenby is considered by the Telegraph to be the 59th most influential person on the right.[1]

Nick Herbert: MP is founder of Reform and a member of the Conservative party. Mr Herbert is considered by the Telegraph to be the 86th most influential person on the right. [2]

Patrick Barbour: (No longer part of Reform) but politically active on the Eurosceptic right of the Conservative Party since at least the early nineties when he helped to fund the Bruges Group.  Patrick Robertson, The patriotic 'pipsqueak' of Bruges, The Sunday Times, 16-June-1991 – Gave the Conservative Central party £7,000 in 2005 and has since gone on to become a donor of UKIP. 

The Trustees of Reform according to their website are:
Stephen Hargrave, James Palmer and Jeremy Sillem. In the 2011 Full accounts, additional trustees were Rupert Darwell and Oliver Pawle.[3]

Rupert Darwall: Noted as a trustee in the 2011 full annual accounts is a Consultant Director of Reform, a freelance strategy consultant. He was previously Special Adviser to the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont. [4]

Oliver Pawle: Currently the Honorary Treasurer. In the 2011 Full accounts it says: One of ‘The trustees who held office during the year’ was ‘Oliver Pawle’. Mr Pawle gave money to Dr Liam Fox for £5,000 on 2nd November 2009 to help run his office.[5] Mr Pawle is down as a trustee during this period. In 2009, he attended a Conservative premier dinner at the Dorchester.[6] In addition Mr Pawle advised Francis Maude on the possible structures and duties of the non-executive directors in a new structure to governance structures. [7]

Stephen Hargrave: Trustee and director, who according to the Electoral Commission gave £5,000 to Conservative MP David Davis in 2001 for a leadership candidate, this was prior to Reform becoming a charity.

MPs who worked for Reform before becoming MPs
Nick Herbert founded Reform and is now the Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs.

Elizabeth Truss was a deputy director of Reform in 2008 and is now the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk

Nick Boys Smith, consultant director - adviser on welfare policy to Conservative MP Peter Lilley when he was Secretary of state for Social Security before working at McKinsey & Co. [8]

Media stating Reform as part of Conservative movement
In July 2009, Cameron gave a speech to Reform think tank launching the Conservative policy on culling quangos.[9]

In July 2011 - David Cameron launched his plans for public service privatisation programme at the Think Tank Reform.[10] No other party launches policy from Reform

In January 2008 the Telegraph listed the top twelve think tanks in its opinion. It said of Reform: 'Political links. Good relations with Tories. Nick Herbert, Shadow Justice Secretary helped set it up.'[11]

In 2009, ConservativeHome.Com who are supporters of the Conservative party produced an article that talked about the ‘growth of Britain’s conservative movement’.  Reform is included in list of list of organisations they see as Conservative.[12]

In their 2011 report, Reform have a quote from journalist George Monbiot which says on their transparency: ‘The only right-wing think tank that did well was Reform.’[13]

In February 2012 - Will Heaven as Acting Deputy Comment Editor of The Daily Telegraph wrote: 'Today the think tank Reform, one that informs Conservative policy, pleads with the Government to "renew the commitment to NHS reform".'[14]

Reform had meetings "meetings of “leaders of the conservative movement … sharing ideas to try to pave the way to a new Tory government."

The Times claimed Reform had meetings of “leaders of the conservative movement … sharing ideas to try to pave the way to a new Tory government." [15]


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Indeed, of the two 'Labour' members, one openly supports Conservative policies (having voted for the Health bill) and the other is a critic of Labour, and has a role in the Coalition.
    Now they've arrived at reform of GP appointments by personal payments. How convenient for the Coalition. In doing so they exhaustively compare the UK with other Western countries as is suits their purposes. One has to ask why such a comparison wasn't made with the NHS privatisation agenda.


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