I’m seriously considering getting in touch with the people who publish the Oxford English dictionary and ask them to include thinktankocracy in their fine publication.
By the time you’ve finished reading this blog you will know my views on Think Tanks so I won’t bother you here. Please feel free to join in a debate on this subject and your views to the Comments section for all to see and, hopefully, participate. It is a debate I, and others I suspect, feel that we need to have.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m an old-fashioned dinosaur, a description that I don’t much object to and am happy to use myself. I naively thought that we lived in a Democracy, but it appears that I am wrong. We have the vote, we exercise it, we elect a government and somehow we delegate our opinions and desires to them, for them to debate in Parliament and pass the relevant laws, policies etc etc. Only it doesn’t quite work like that any more does it?
Non-elected bodies calling themselves Think Tanks, such as Policy Exchange for example, set themselves up at nobody’s request, employ all kinds of post-graduate types to research and write up papers and then present them to whichever party happens to be in power at the time and suggest them as future government policy. Or at least that’s how it seems to me. Politicians, senior police officers et al are dined and dined at Think Tank HQ and brainwashed into thinking that Think Tank Idea #17 is the greatest thing since sliced bread and should be adopted nationally, thus saving the country a fortune and lining the pockets of private company shareholders and directors, some of whom might even belong to said Think Tank. Quelle Horreure.
Sorry to pick on Policy Exchange again, but to quote from their own website
There are numerous examples of where our policy ideas
have been taken forward by government. Below are just a
- Directly elected police commissioners
- The pupil premium
- Free Schools
Public Services are one of their 3 main areas of study
Wikipedia describes Policy Exchange thus
It describes itself as seeking localist, volunteer and free market solutions to public policy problems, with research programmes covering health, education, energy and environment, crime and justice, welfare, housing policy, family policy and security. It works with academics and policy advisors across the political spectrum, and members of its advisory councils include Lord Trimble, Peter Clarke, former, Head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, James Cameron, Executive Director of Climate Change Capital, and Simon Stevens, former health advisor to the Prime Minister. Policy Exchange hosts regular events and debates with key individuals including academics, journalists, MPs and Ministers. The Annual Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture, has been delivered by speakers such as Sir Ian Blair, Charles Farr and General David Petraeus
Policy Exchange describe themselves thus
Policy Exchange is an independent, non-partisan educational charity. We work with academics and policy makers from across the political spectrum. We are particularly interested in free market and localist solutions to public policy questions.
I don’t care what your views are on Police Commissioners for example, the point is the idea came from a Think Tank, not what the public were asking for. Were you unhappy with your Police Authority? Were you seeking an alternative?
As I said previously Nobody on/in a Think Tank is freely elected, it’s a job. Independent? Non-Partisan? Educational? You decide.
You don’t get any say in what subjects they research
They are VERY reluctant to tell you where their funding comes from
I don’t believe that they are publicly accountable
The majority, if not all, register as a charity. What charitable work do they do? By registering as a charity they are immune to Freedom of Information requests as charities are excluded. How is any of this democratic?
A website entitled Social Investigations issued a post recently also questioning the relationship between a Think Tank called Reform, G4S and the government. This blog can be found here.
In my humble opinion Think Tanks are slowly influencing the government to place more and more public services into private hands. Where will it end? Will it end?
So, who’s with me and wants Thinktankocracy included in the Oxford English Dictionary?