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UK think tanks and policy landscape

Last weekend, the Independent published a review of the most influential think tanks in the UK policy scene. Politics? Nothing that a bit of thinking can’t cure provides some interesting detail and insights into the British think tank community.

First, the attention on think tanks emerges in part from the roles they will play in developing the three main party’s manifestos for the 2015 elections. It is also announcing a rather interesting initiative in which think tanks from the capital get together to attempt to convince an audience of peers and the general public to support their ideas.

Second, I was interested to confirm that many of these think tanks are in fact quite small. Annual budgets under a million pounds are nor uncommon.

Third, they are fairly new organisations and their political or ideological positions are somewhat identifiable.

Fourth, the revolving door that exists between think tanks and the government is wide open and working at different levels.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. venetia #

    The interesting point is less about the content of the (albeit helpful) review – it is that The Independent recognises – and thereby enforces – the existence of the label ‘think tank’.
    A two-page spread is a significant attempt to get its readership up to speed and – perhaps – to be able to ask questions about the origins of party policy (i.e. the TT involved – this will often involving roaming consultants with numerous affinities…..a large area for probing, methinks).

    A question: where are some of those TTs listed in The Independent’s review (e.g Institute for Government) in McGann’s listings?

    February 6, 2011
    • This is a very good question (and I asked that myself on my post on the index). I agree with you too about the recognition of the label ‘think tanks’ and the discussion about the origin of policies. This role, of unveiling the detail, is one that newspapers and political magazines play rather well in the UK but it is unexplored in many developing countries where the focus continues to be on the communication of evidence and results.

      February 6, 2011

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