Social Market Foundation

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The Social Market Foundation (SMF) is a British public policy think-tank based in Westminster, London. It was set up by supporters of David Owen after the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was disbanded in the late 1980s. It aims to promote and produce policies supporting the “social market”. This was the concept of the SMF’s first publication.


Founded in 1989, the organisation was cited as ‘John Major's favourite thinktank’[1][2] and two former directors, Rick Nye and Daniel Finkelstein, left to work for the Conservative Party.[3]

In the 1990s it moved closer to New Labour, with Gordon Brown giving a speech about 'social markets' at the Foundation in 2003,[3] and SMF publishing a paper by Gordon Brown in 2004.[4] In 2001, Robert, Lord Skidelsky was replaced as chair by David, Lord Lipsey. It was associated with some of the policies of New Labour, particularly issues of public service reform.[citation needed]

In September 2010, Mary Ann Sieghart, the political and social affairs journalist, took over as Chair, and since then it has been studiedly non-partisan.[citation needed]

Policy goals[edit]

The SMF’s remit is to focus on domestic public policy, particularly the public services and welfare. The majority of publications are therefore focused on issues concerning education, health care and employment. However it also produces publications on wide-ranging subjects such as road-pricing, casinos and energy policy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shrimsley, R (1995), 'Defector from SDP to head Tory research', Financial Times, August 24, p. 7
  2. ^ "Mr Major's Speech to the Social Market Foundation". John Major. 9 September 1994. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Social Market Foundation". New Statesman. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Gordon Brown (May 2004). A Modern Agenda for Prosperity and Social Reform (Report). Social Market Foundation. Retrieved 23 March 2014.

External links[edit]