Policy Papers

The Wilberforce Society produces several policy proposals each term on a diverse range of issues, covering economic, foreign, domestic and legal affairs. Proposals provide innovative and practical responses to contemporary issues.

Each proposal is written by one or several members of the society, and is presented to the society at a meeting attended by a guest chair with expertise on the given topic. With the counsel of the society members and the chair, a final proposal is created, published, and sent to interested parties.

Proposal topics are often chosen by the members of the society writing the proposal.

The society also accepts commissions to produce research and proposals on specific topics.

Latest Policy Paper

Modelling Stability after Revolutions Download Paper

Dominic AitsOctober 2013

The most noteworthy aspect of the recent political revolutions in the Arab world is that there is nearly always a failure to suddenly superimpose a democratic style of government based on Western political constitutional foundations onto a set of domestic government institutions. Here, I argue that there is a need to consider the notion of a ‘learning equilibrium’ — to recognise that it takes time for institutions and socio-economic agents to adapt their expectations about the new state of governing such that a stable democratic political environment is generated. I conclude with a generic road-map detailing a general pathway for which this learning equilibrium can be attained.

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Featured Proposals

Modelling Stability after Revolutions Download Paper

Dominic AitsOctober 2013

The most noteworthy aspect of the recent political revolutions in the Arab world is that there is nearly always a failure to suddenly superimpose a democratic style of government based on Western political constitutional foundations onto a set of domestic government institutions. Here, I argue that there is a need to consider the notion of a ‘learning equilibrium’ — to recognise that it takes time for institutions and socio-economic agents to adapt their expectations about the new state of governing such that a stable democratic political environment is generated. I conclude with a generic road-map detailing a general pathway for which this learning equilibrium can be attained.

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Students and Alcohol Download Paper

Claudia Long, Debayan Dasgupta, Gabriel Lambert, Helena Barman, Ingrid Hesselbo, Jonathon Hazell & Richard Stockwell (Ed.)July 2013

Written exclusively by students, this paper is uniquely placed to present a broad range of perspectives on issues surrounding young people and alcohol.

  • In the opening chapter, Claudia Leong argues that media presentation of a youth binge drinking culture is unfair and counterproductive: unfair in light of comparable levels of alcohol consumption among other generations and counterproductive in reinforcing negative stereotypes.
  • Debayan Dasgupta, the author of chapter two, targets his proposals for community level partnerships at the problems of underage drinking and cheap, superstrength alcohol, which are in his eyes the key factors in reducing antisocial behaviour surrounding alcohol misuse.
  • The provision of explicit, personalised information is the key proposal of the third chapter, by Gabriel Lambert. He sees potential in making the medical effects of alcohol consumption easier to conceptualise by linking alcohol intake directly to life expectancy. In addition, he makes a wider case for full disclosure of information by alcohol producers, which he hopes would lead people to reduce their consumption, obviating the need for punitive measures.
  • In chapter four, Helena Barman points to the success of graphic health warnings on cigarette packets in arguing for the adoption of a similar strategy for tackling alcohol misuse. Visually arresting images that target heavy drinkers would add shock value to a message, which could be communicated more effectively overall with the help of representative student bodies.
  • Ingrid Hesselbo adopts an anthropological perspective in chapter five. She emphasises the importance of separating the medical effects of alcohol from its cultural associations, and highlights the issue of personal responsibility for actions while intoxicated. She also advocates more liberal licensing laws in the long term, as part of normalising moderate alcohol consumption.
  • Finally, in chapter six Jonathon Hazell argues for further alcohol taxation over minimum pricing as a potentially more progressive system that would see the proceeds go to government rather than alcohol companies. In addition, he draws attention to the fact that, despite the government’s outward concern with phenomena such as preloading, young people are not disproportionately heavy drinkers compared with the general population.

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Engaging with China: towards an assertive relationship with the People’s Republic Download Paper

Patrick Hoffman, Alasdair Phillips-Robins & Raphael LemahieuNovember 2012

This paper argues for a radical shift in the UK’s policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC), aiming at a political relationship that transcends the motivation of economic opportunism. It sets out two proposals which present an alternative to the current policy of containment. Instead they promote a relationship of trust and constructive engagement on issues where progress has been lacking for too long.

The first proposal calls on the UK government to recommit itself to the democratic development of its former colony of Hong Kong and to establish a Hong Kong Affairs Liaison Committee as a platform for exchange on this issue. Within this low-key framework of dialogue, the UK should negotiate a quid pro quo which would see the Chinese government put forward a credible roadmap to democracy in Hong Kong along the lines of its 2007 commitment. In exchange, the United Kingdom would lead the European Union in lifting the 1989 arms embargo on the PRC.

Going beyond the issue of Hong Kong, the second proposal calls on the UK to lead an ambitious and creative international effort to resolve the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea by establishing three nature reserves around the disputed Spratly, Paracel and Pratas islands. A focus on conservation and the creation of a sustainable maritime management system will serve as a precedent of cooperation while effectively suspending the sovereignty dispute.

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