Duncan_smith_1David Cameron has established six "policy groups" to examine six key challenges facing Britain and the world:

  • economic competitiveness;
  • quality of life (including the environment);
  • public service reform;
  • security;
  • global poverty;
  • social justice.

He has launched first group in East London this afternoon – under the chairmanship of Iain Duncan Smith.

Each policy group will have the following basic characteristics:

  • It will involve people from outside politics – usually eight on each group.
  • There will be no more than two Tory politicians on each group and neither will serve on the frontbench.
  • The groups will not set policy but will use the next eighteen months to explore and understand today’s problems and their solutions.
  • They will not set party policy but will "help inform a policy development process".

David Cameron said:

“Yesterday, I set out the six big challenges facing our country. These challenges are complex and interconnected.  They don’t sit inside simple boxes.  They need serious, long-term thinking.  So that’s exactly what we will do – and the hard work starts today."

Oliver Letwin is expected to coordinate the six policy groups as there will be areas of considerable overlap.

Some frontbenchers are concerned that the process is too long.  They believe that policies need to be sold early to the electorate and these policy groups will mean the party has little to say on important issues for up to eighteen months.  Others fear that the policy groups will enfeeble shadow ministers.  Shadow ministers will be left with the routine parliamentary work whilst the policy committees undertake the sexier, fresher work of policy review.

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