Institute for Public Policy Research

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The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)is a UK think tank with links to the Labour Party. It describes itself as "progressive".

The IPPR is organizing an extensive series of fringe events at the 2004 Labour Party conference, in association with the television station Channel 4 [1].


Setting up IPPR was a conscious attempt by Labour leaders and Labour sympathisers to promote their party’s modernisation beyond what was discussed by party-internal policy-making bodies e.g. during the Policy Review process. Thus, it was an institutionalised expression of the lack of confidence in these bodies and their capability for reform and, perhaps more significantly, an expression of dissatisfaction with Labour’s more “traditional” motors of renewal – e.g. the Fabian Society. The history of IPPR starts in 1986 – it was officially set up in 1988. Businessman Clive Hollick, a Labour supporter, suggested to party leader Neil Kinnock that their party needed a new think-tank to rival what IEA and ASI had done for the Conservatives (Blackstone; Cornford; Hewitt & Miliband 1992). Subsequently, Hollick and Kinnock’s economic advisor, John Eatwell, started assembling a board of trustees which appointed John Cornford, an academic and former director of the liberal Outer Circle Policy Unit think-tank, as IPPR’s first director. Patricia Hewitt – Neil Kinnock’s press secretary and later a key person in the making of the Policy Review and the 1992 election manifesto – became deputy director. Already existing networks, often based on personal friendships, allowed IPPR to gather sufficient funding to start work: especially the IPPR’s first chair of trustees, Tessa Blackstone, who worked in Prime Minister Edward Heath’s Central Policy Review Staff in the 1970s – a government unit sometimes referred to as a think-tank (see Blackstone & Plowden 1988) – had good relationships to a number of Labour supporters from academia and from the arts and business communities.

With an initial staff of only three and some rather vague funding promises of £200.000 from individuals and trade unions, Cornford wanted IPPR to act like a secretariat and intermediary for a flexible network of academics, politicians and interest groups who would look at mid-and long-term policy planning (Cornford 2007; 1996; 1990). But conflicts arose because these intentions clashed with the different expectations held by those who had been behind the instigation of IPPR and who were close to the Labour leadership. They saw IPPR almost as an adjunct of Labour’s PR machinery and wanted it to pursue more short-term and media-effective work to ensure that Labour was publicly perceived as well-prepared to take over government. The close connection that IPPR maintained to the electoral goals of the Labour leadership was manifest in Patricia Hewitt’s role at IPPR: after she had left her post in Kinnock’s inner circle and had become the think-tank’s deputy director, “she kept working for the party from the outside, cutting and shearing the Policy Review”, as Labour insider Phillip Gould reports (1998, 99). Therefore, during its early years IPPR de facto “provided some sort of intellectual back-up for the Kinnock-team”, as IPPR’s Anna Coote said (Coote 2007).

Above all the trade unions understood IPPR as a vehicle to get Labour back into power. Therefore, a number of unions were neither happy about IPPR’s slow start – it did not publish any work in its first year – nor did they appreciate IPPR’s research agenda: topics like road-pricing (Hewitt 1989) and the break-up of traditional family structures and the consequent need for labour market reform (Coote, Harman & Hewitt 1990) were not issues that unions were interested respectively did not want to discuss in this form. Consequently, trade unions’ financial commitment to IPPR – mainly in the form of core funding – remained below the initial promises. Hence, since very early on in IPPR’s history, IPPR analysts have perceived trade unions as more difficult partners than corporate sponsors and government because their limited financial resources compel them to look at research co-sponsored by them in a very interested and purpose-oriented manner. The end of the Cold War, the demise of state socialism and Labour’s electoral failures strengthened convictions within IPPR that the centre-left should urgently abandon some of its long-held assumptions about the state, the market and about the significance of ownership of the means of production. In 1992, IPPR authors argued that a reform of “British capitalism” according to centre-left values needed to take into account the inherent limitations of the Social Democratic project and the changes that capitalism itself had undergone: “every pattern of industrial development is now, […], a ‘third way’, combining a mixed economy with government regulation and a welfare state”. Describing the left’s political heritage as “limiting”, the authors proposed a new model of a society that should go “beyond a static model of market/state relations and instead bind the two in close interrelationships, weaving together social interest and market dynamism” (Blackstone; Cornford; Hewitt & Miliband 1992, 3). In 1993, Patricia Hewitt and Philip Gould argued that Labour should follow the example of William Clinton’s New Democrats in the US as an example for the successful renewal of party organisation and ideology (Hewitt & Gould 1993). IPPR has developed a relatively extensive internal research capacity over the years. Today, it can be characterised as a multi-issue interest-oriented or advocacy think-tank which carries out applicable policy research striving for academic standards. It is also aiming to become more of a “think-and-do-tank” with the aim of cooperating closer with (local) government agencies by piloting and evaluating policy programmes (IPPR 4 2008). In 2006, IPPR employed about 70 full-time staff and has set itself the objective of contributing to “build a fairer, more democratic and environmentally sustainable world” (IPPR 1). In 2004 it opened IPPR North in Newcastle to develop a less London-centric policy view and to “deepen democratic engagement in the North” (IPPR 3). With IPPR Trading a consultancy arm was set up to increase income through work with corporate sponsors. The work done in this context is usually based on cooperation with a single funder who approaches IPPR with an idea for a project and commissions a study. IPPR retains copyright of the outcome of this consultancy work but leaves dissemination and usage to the commissioning organisation.

IPPR’s overall budget of circa three million pounds has remained roughly the same in 2005 and 2004 (1998: £1 million). Funding sources have changed since the think-tank’s inception. The corporate sector is the most important – usually project-specific – financial source and accounts for about a third of the overall donation income. Second are individuals with 24% in 2004 and third come trusts and foundations with 22%. Other forms of income such as commissioned research by IPPR Trading have added up to one million pounds in the past (IPPR 2005; IPPR 2004). The Labour Party itself has not contributed to either IPPR’s core funding or to specific projects and trade unions have lost all significance as funders and merely partake in the think-tank’s activities by having representatives on IPPR’s board of trustees. IPPR has tried to distance itself from both Labour Party and Labour government in order to secure its survival should the Labour administration be voted out of power. Despite these efforts, this think-tank continues to be perceived as firmly rooted in the centre-left.


Accessed October 2012: [1]


Associate Directors

  • Dalia Ben-Galim - Associate Director for Family, Community and Work
  • Tony Dolphin - Senior Economist and Associate Director for Economic Policy
  • Guy Lodge - Associate Director for Politics and Power
  • Eileen McGowan - Associate Director for Fundraising and Partnerships
  • Rick Muir - Associate Director for Public Service Reform
  • Sarah Mulley - Associate Director for Migration, Trade and Development
  • Katie Schmuecker - Associate Director, IPPR North
  • Will Straw - Associate Director for Globalisation and Climate Change

Personnel (2003)

IPPR Trustees


External Link

External links

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Institute for Public Policy Research People, organizational web page, accessed October 2, 2012.