Public Affairs: Soap Box - James O'Shaughnessy, chief policy adviser, Portland

This autumn, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will be setting out the achievements the coalition has made and what is still left to do. Rather than wait, Portland has done the job for them - on 12 September, at an event in London, we will launch our first policy review.

As someone so recently involved in designing the Conservatives' - and then the coalition's - programme for government, it can be difficult to assess it objectively.

Fortunately, the sceptics at Portland are less partisan, and the review sets out what has gone well for the Government and what hasn't. Every government has ups and downs. This one is no different. What is important is whether it gets the big decisions right and that the lessons of government are learned.

First among these is that only policy programmes for which a complete political strategy has been created will succeed. This has been achieved for the schools, welfare and localism agendas.

The painful experiences of the health reforms, however, show that strong principles are not enough. The mess of child benefit reforms shows governments acting in haste nearly always leads to repenting at leisure.

Second, the Government has placed a huge bet on the innovation and productivity of the private sector to deliver better public services. While the economic and social gains of success could be transformative, the political risks of failure are huge, particularly for the Liberal Democrats, whose belief in the power of the markets is less zealous.

Finally, governments must learn to expect the unexpected. The Prime Minister did not anticipate fighting a war in his first 18 months in government. The eurozone could explode at any minute. The Prime Minister will be hoping that our review in 2015 shows that 'events, dear boy' did not blow him from the tough course he has chosen.

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