Think tank launch \’to boost prosperity\’ – Daily Telegraph


Simon Johnson
The Daily Telegraph, 1.3.08

One of Scotland’s most successful businessmen today announces a new think-tank to lobby for new policies to boost the economy.

Reform Scotland, which will be formally launched on April 15, is an independent body with the goal of delivering prosperity and better services.

Its ideas would be based on the “traditional Scottish principals” of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility, it said at a pre-launch event in Edinburgh.

The group has an advisory board chaired by Ben Thomson, chairman of the Noble Group investment bank, and has several business figures on the board.

Mr Thomson, a one-time Scottish decathlete, last year moved into semi-retirement at the age of only 43 after chairing the Edinburgh-based bank.

The think-tank’s director is Geoff Mawdsley, who advised David McLetchie when he was Scottish Tory leader. The group aims to carry out research, publish reports, and issue briefing notes on public policy issues. A report on economic growth is planned this month, followed by one on public services.

A spokesman for the think-tank said: “The election of an SNP minority government in Scotland provides the opportunity for reform and all parties are open to new ideas.
There is also an ongoing debate about how Scotland is governed with further change almost inevitable, whether it is more devolved powers, fiscal autonomy or independence.”

Most of the think-tank’s work will focus on the economy and public services. It hopes to carry to out research, and actively promote policy ideas along similar lines to think-tanks in America. It also plans to be even-handed towards parties, praising or admonishing “as we see fit!", said Mr Mawdsley.