Opinion: Editor's view - Cross-party work at Westminster could produce fresh thinking

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Well before the LibDem/Conservative coalition shook the UK with its formation, another unlikely cross-party alliance started some fruitful work on early intervention.

Tory Iain Duncan Smith, chairman of the Centre for Social Justice and newly-appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, teamed up with the Labour MP for Nottingham North, Graham Allen, to produce the CSJ report Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens in 2008.

Both politicians are deeply committed to early intervention with children and families as a cost-effective way of bringing about lasting social change and tackling poverty, as you can read in our Analysis piece, 'Why early intervention needs to be a priority' (pages 10-11).

Graham Allen has seen Nottingham develop cross-agency policy through its local services to be an 'Early Intervention City'. Talking to Nursery World, he crosses party boundaries further in his generous assessment that Duncan Smith could put the duo's early intervention strategy into action in his new position, if given the right responsibility, although he admits that this could require restructuring of government departments.

Interestingly, Duncan Smith has just been made chairman of a cross-department committee on social justice, poverty and equality. Members include David Laws from the Treasury, children's minister Sarah Teather from the DfE and junior equalities minister Lynne Featherstone from the Home Office.

Duncan Smith's work at the Centre for Social Justice has been influential on certain parts of the Tory Party and has brought him back into the centre of Government. This mix of departmental representatives looks as though it could produce some interesting strategies.

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