From social justice to social cohesion
One of the less remarked privatizations of the 1980s was the privatization of policy-making. The Thatcher era was marked by an increasing reliance on think-tanks ostensibly independent of the Conservative Party, notably the Adam Smith Institute (founded in 1979), the Centre for Policy Studies (1974), the Social Affairs Unit (1980) as well as the longer-established Institute of Economic Affairs (1957). The growth of these nominally independent organizations, at least some of which had charitable status, was accompanied by the abolition of the government’s own think-tank, the Central Policy Review Staffs (CPRS). The role of outside organizations was reinforced by cuts to the statistical and research base. The Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth was abolished in 1979, and the Rayner Review of the Government Statistical Services in 1980 led to substantial staff losses. Much statistical work which might previously have been carried out by government statisticians was undertaken by policy-oriented research institutes inside and outside academia and by specialist pressure groups, aided by the spread of computer technology.
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