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Who can revive the IEA... and how?

Picture 4 Earlier today Iain Dale broke the story that John Blundell is to leave the Institute of Economic Affairs.  The official statement is here.

The IEA and the Centre for Policy Studies drove the Thatcherite revolution but the IEA has been much less influential since then.

If I had to name the top centre right think tanks now it would be Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Justice.  Reform and the CPS would be my next most influentials.

The TaxPayers' Alliance and MigrationWatch are hugely important but neither are quite in the conventional think tank mould and that brings me to my point: Are think tanks thinking enough about how best to change the intellectual and political climate?

Daniel Finkelstein urges the IEA to use this moment to consider whether it's "a body that wants to influence policy, or is it primarily concerned with educating people about free markets?"  A good question but there are other questions too.  Too many think tanks are doing the same things that a 1970s think tank would do.  They're still producing papers that aren't well read and measuring their impact by newspaper column inches.

None of the think tanks have a really good blog (the ASI's is best) but, then again, are blogs important?

Is it more important to influence twenty people 'who matter' than a thousand people who don't?

Is advice more likely to be heeded when given in private or through newspapers insofar as it builds a movement for change?

Is influence about educating students or is it about warehousing/ developing researchers who then join the offices of shadow ministers?

What can be learnt from the CSJ model of basing its policy recommendations on building an alliance of hundreds of successful poverty-fighting groups?

How much do you work inside the political system and how much in academia or at the grassroots?

I have lots more questions but few answers!

In terms of "who", Guido has some good ideas.  A commenter on Iain Dale's blog suggests John Redwood.  A very good thought imo.

Tim Montgomerie


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