Notes

About me

My name is Guy Palmer and I maintain this site.

The site went live in 2002.  It combines three of my major interests, namely:

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Statistics alone (late 1970s)

I graduated from Cambridge University in 1979 with a first class degree in a subject called Operational Research.

Operational Research is a really interesting subject which was reasonably topical at the time but, alas, no longer is.  It is partly about using quantitative techniques (i.e. statistics) to analyse real-world problems and partly about thinking outside of the box.

A few random examples, from the purely quantitative (i.e. boring) to the more lateral (i.e. interesting):

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IT and statistics (1980s)

Thinking I was joining an Operational Research organisation, I joined Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) in 1979. It turned out that I was actually joining an IT and management consultancy company, with a bit of Operational Research on the side.  So, purely by chance, I got to learn IT (Fortran, Cobol, APL, etc).  But it was a great company, with great people, so I stayed there for 10 years.

Whilst at Accenture, I was 'posted' to the Cabinet Office for a year in something called their Financial Management Unit. That is where I became interested in performance indicators.  At Christmas time, we were each given 10 Cabinet Office christmas cards to send out. I sent one of them to the partners at Accenture saying "keep up the good work" and signed it "Maggie". They thought it really was from Mrs Thatcher and held an emergency meeting to decide how to respond!

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IT on its own (1990s)

In 1989, I decided to set up my own management consultancy firm, called Pareto Consulting.  We specialised in doing IT strategies for NHS organisations, from the Department of Health down to individual hospitals.  We were very successful in our aim, becoming the dominant firm in this particular niche.

After ten years of doing this, I decided that I had become a bit too much of a capitalist and wanted to do something with a bit more social worth, so ...

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Politics and statistics (2000s)

In 1997, I set up a think tank, called the New Policy Institute.  The original idea was to address the 'boring' aspects of social policy (such as housing and utilities), as these were being ignored by 'New Labour'.  The problem was that everyone else was ignoring these issues as well so we had difficulty getting anyone interested in what we were saying, obtaining sponsorship, etc.  Then, by chance, we were sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to write a report entitled 'Monitoring poverty and social exclusion - Labour's inheritance'. That report was very influential, so we continued to work with the Foundation, with annual reports from 1998 and this website from 2002.

Running a think tank might sound exciting, and at times it really was.  But it also taught me that policy is often driven more by Ministerial whim than actual evidence, and that much of the media is only interested in pandering to their readers' prejudices. Take Council Tax reform as an example.  This was (and still is) a subject where reform is desperately needed and where we were the acknowledged experts in the field.  The Government asked us to produce a report on the way forward, which we did. 

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And now?

In 2007, I emigrated to Australia.  Here are two ways of explaining why:

Even though I was moving a long way away, I decided to keep maintaining this website, partly because I still find it interesting, partly because I wanted to prove to myself that the Internet etc really does make (very) remote working possible, and partly because I genuinely believe (or, at least, hope) that the material on the site is useful to people interested in social justice in the UK.

In my spare time, I am:

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