‘Jousting and feasting’ over policy

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It was not traditional children’s book fodder, but for Margaret Thatcher’s former head of 
policy there was much “jousting and feasting” to be found in a 
discussion of 1980s fiscal 
policy.

That is according to a speech, written by John Redwood, the former head of the Number 10 Policy Unit, which compared Stock Exchange reform to a battle with medieval knights.

The address, which was intended to be delivered to senior policy advisers in 1984, has been revealed for the first time today.

Under the title Tilting At Castles, Mr Redwood began: “Once upon a time – or about a year ago, to be precise – there lived a noble and chivalrous group of knights in a great big castle called the Stock Exchange.”

The ensuing 1,800-word yarn used the fairytale theme to explain how a change in approach by the government – or “institutional barons” – to regulating stock-broking firms could benefit the public – or “peasants”.

Mr Redwood explained in hindsight that the unorthodox speech was “a prophecy” of how he wanted the Policy Unit to manage an influx of entrepreneurial investors.