'Progressive conservatism' think tank plans to work with sector on campaigns

Founders want Bright Blue to become a focus for progressive Tories within the voluntary sector

A new think tank promoting "progressive conservatism" plans to team up with voluntary sector organisations on campaigns.

Bright Blue, which was launched last night, has been set up to encourage the Conservative Party to put policies that improve the lives of the most vulnerable at the heart of its policy agenda.

Co-founder Ryan Shorthouse, a researcher for shadow children's minister Maria Miller, said it was intended for Bright Blue to become an umbrella organisation that brought together all who wanted to see a future Conservative government adopt progressive policies.

"We're happy to join charities on their campaigns and we're very much open to working with the voluntary sector on different campaigns," said Shorthouse. "Labour has done well to build up the structures of state support, but we'd like to see government give charitable organisations more freedom to deliver outcomes. We want to make sure more state-funded services can be put into the hands of the voluntary sector."

A belief in decentralisation and giving more power to people was at the heart of progressive conservatism, he added.

The think tank has received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and has the backing of shadow cabinet members Theresa May and David Willetts.

Shorthouse said Bright Blue was putting together an advisory panel and hoped to get representatives from the third sector to take part in it.

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