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The 2023 Policy Idol Finals
The energy in the room was electric as the votes were tallied and the winner was finally revealed, marking the pinnacle of this exhilarating competition...
13 April, 2023

Welcome to the highly anticipated grand finale of Policy Idol 2023, a prestigious annual competition organized by the Policy Institute. Held on Friday 31st March at King’s College London’s Grand Hall, it was thrilling to witness the final showdown. Talented students from across different disciplines underwent rigorous training in policy analysis and communication to refine their presentations and increase their chances of winning the coveted cash prizes. With over 72 teams participating, only the top 8 individuals made it to the final round to take centre stage and pitch their innovative policy ideas to a panel of esteemed judges and a live audience. 

The atmosphere in the room was charged with excitement as the charismatic host of the evening, Mark Easton from BBC, took the stage, joining him were this year’s esteemed judges. The UK’s public policy landscape is shaped by the contributions of individuals who have dedicated their careers to advancing critical issues. Four of these outstanding professionals are Sir Trevor Phillips, Baroness Deborah Bull, Lord David Willetts, and Professor Bobby Duffy. Sir Trevor Phillips, a celebrated broadcaster, was recognized with an OBE in 1999 and a knighthood in 2022 for his tireless work in promoting equality and human rights. Baroness Deborah Bull, a renowned dancer, writer, and broadcaster, served as the creative director of the Royal Opera House and spent 20 years performing with The Royal Ballet. Lord David Willetts, a life peer and member of the Conservative Party, brings his knowledge from the House of Lords. Professor Bobby Duffy, a seasoned policy researcher, has spent three decades working across various public policy areas and served in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. Together, these judges were each bringing their wealth of experience and knowledge to the competition. 

With only three minutes to present the ideas, the tension is palpable as each finalist took over the stage, giving their best shot at winning over the judges and the audience. 

Isabel Reed had the challenge of being the first to present, which may have been nerve-wracking, however, her body language and tone of voice only radiated confidence and composure. Starting off with amusing facts, and some funny jokes, she captured the attention of the audience and judges. Having had the dilemma of whether she should choose the healthier, but more expensive alternative food choices herself, Isabel talked about the difficulties of choosing to maintain a healthy lifestyle due to the higher prices of healthy alternatives at the food stores. Touching upon issues such as animal welfare, food poverty and diet-related diseases, she wanted to take some action on climate change by addressing the food system. Hoping to make it a government policy about tax and subsidy of food, Isabel proposed the implementation of an alternative ECO- Clubcard at Tesco. With the judges’ feedback and the whole experience Isabel commented – “policy idol helped me think exactly how this policy would be implemented and how viable it is”. With such coherent ideas and a well-conducted presentation, no wonder she received an honourable mention from the board of judges!

Toryn Whitehead’s policy idea was inspired by his summer volunteering experience at a wolf preservation charity in Portugal. Looking into the UK’s regions, he targeted locally extinct keystone species – “it’s about putting local people first, prioritizing and empowering local people as a part of preserving the species.” Sadly, this issue is requiring some urgent action, as the UK’s biodiversity loss has reached a 50% decline in the past decade, and is facing a risk of “Ecological Meltdown”. Toryn’s presentation was articulated with a lot of genuine emotions and personal relation to the issue, hence he was able to speak to the judges’ and audience’s hearts and provoke some thought for action. 

Alice Weavers took the stage and presented her idea for a digital platform aimed at engaging young people in policy-making in England- “GOV.UK/Youth”. With a background in youth policy and inspired by her PhD research, Alice was definitely one of the most confident contestants as she had prior experience in this field. According to the conducted statistical research, the group of young people aged from 18-25, are the ones who find themselves most disconnected from politics and decision-making on that scale. Drawing on the ideas of young people, Alice aimed to bridge the gap between the government and young people by creating a platform for them to voice their opinions and contribute to policy-making. Alice noted that the policy institute gave a lot of opportunities and room for improvement, and as for her future – “after PhD, I’ll be keen to continue trying to improve youth participation opportunities, whether it’s free policy, youth work or academia.” Alice’s presentation gave a clear sense of journey, one goes through with Policy Idol, and when the judges had additional questions for her to identify the purpose and viability of her mission, she was more than prepared to give additional facts and explanation to support and elaborate on her project. 

The presentations were nothing short of captivating, and as they drew to a close, it was time for the audience and judges to cast their votes. The energy in the room was electric as the votes were tallied and the winner was finally revealed, marking the pinnacle of this exhilarating competition. Isabel Reed’s confident and engaging presentation was honoured with ‘Best Delivery’, Toryn Whitehead’s clear and concise pitch won him ‘Best Analysis’, and Alice Weaver’s well-spoken manner and charisma managed to capture ‘Audience Choice’. But who’s the overall winner of Policy Idol 2023? The winner of Policy Idol 2023, is … “GOV.UK/Youth” by Alice Weavers, and hopefully soon, we can witness the real-life implementation of her policy to help societal issues. 

The competition has been a brilliant platform for young policy enthusiasts to showcase their skills and add an extra edge to their performances in their future paths. The event wrapped up with a speech given by Professor Adam Fagan – “When it comes to big societal challenges, King’s have an incredible range of ideas and talent.” 

Policy Idol 2023 has been an incredible journey, with fantastic ideas, inspiring speeches and an enthusiastic audience. Congratulations to all the finalists, and we look forward to seeing more innovative ideas in the future!

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