Weekly think-tank round-up

9:42 am - May 31st 2008

by Liam Murray    

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I missed a round-up last week for family reasons but it’s still a bit thin this week – I think everyone’s been consumed by reaction to Crewe so not a tremendous amount out there in terms of new & interesting thinking. As ever please flag in the comments anything worthy you think I might have missed…

Left \ Liberal Think Tanks

Right \ Libertarian Think Tanks

  • The Civitas blog weighs into the row over taxation and public spending with a piece from Nick Cowen arguing that the No.1 priority re: taxation at this point is stability, something not likely to come about given the Government’s predilection for fidgeting with the tax system. “it seems that it is not the levying of tax that incenses voters; it is the politician’s knack for fidgeting with the levers of budgets, the sort of fiddling that, often without much scrutiny, dramatically alters what individual are paying for from year to year. It is exactly these sort of disruptive interventions that has got Brown in trouble – not just the sheer amount of taxation but the way it has been levied.”
  • The Henry Jackson Society has something on Russia’s aggressive posture towards Georgia and what it sees as a lack of teeth in Europe’s response.
  • HJS also carries a piece on the problems besetting Venezuela because of the volatility on world oil prices.
  • The Civitas-linked Centre for Social Cohesion blog is in triumphant mood following Channel 4’s victory over West Midlands police and the claims against its Dispatches programme ‘Undercover Mosque’ – “The fact that a section of the British police force honestly thought that the problem was Channel 4 and not the hate-preachers shows the astonishing culture which has emerged in the police force in recent years. It is not the job of the police to become television critics, and it should not be their role to attempt to enforce some ludicrously presumptuous PC (pardon the pun) agenda”
  • Climate change sceptics will no doubt lap up the Centre for Policy Studies response to the Royal Society’s paper on ‘Climate Controversies’. In ‘Not So Simple?’ Fred Singer PHD concludes “It is a pity that, rather than facilitate that debate, the Royal Society has chosen to misrepresent the honestly-held views of those who are sceptical of what has become climate-change orthodoxy.”
  • And finally worth flagging a series of interesting articles over at Chatham House on the international food crisis. The articles are part of a overall project called UK Food Supply in the 21st Century: The New Dynamic – worth a look.


  • Quick plug also for a new US ‘online journal of politics and foreign affairs’ NeoConstant – they would probably balk at the simplistic label but as the name suggest it’s very much a ‘neocon’ slant on world affairs. From their ‘About’ page: “focused on important world events and domestic policy with an emphasis on defense and conservatism. [D]edicated to American sovereignty, the right of Israel to exist, and the strengthening of ties to our democratic allies–especially Britain and Israel. We believe in human rights, especially in Tibet, Burma, and Darfur, as well as all places across the globe where innocents are oppressed while the free world does nothing. The primary focus, though not the only subject, is the ongoing war on terror and our continued strong national security. Domestically, NeoConstant urges lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, and individual determination. Taking a slightly more libertarian or conservatarian approach to civil liberties, NeoConstant urges strong social tolerance and individual liberties for all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, creed, or class”. Perhaps they might want to tie up with Compass…?
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About the author
Liam Murray is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs at Cassilis.
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Reader comments

Shout to all the losers drinking around the Circle line like tramps, causing service disruption already (at 5pm) and getting cussed on the PA by the drivers on other lines.

All in the name of protest at the new mayor elected on a massive mandate.

Never mind how non-drinkers around them feel.

Liberal Conspiracy, your sponsorship of this tragic spectacle will stand to your shame.

That’s just an opinion, so please refrain from fascist censorship this time…

The people out drinking on the tubes are doing perfectly legal things, so who are the fascists if you would rather that they were not allowed to do what currently is legal?

And you miss the point, typically, as the protest isn’t against the “massive mandate” of the mayor, it’s against a politician that has worked his way to where he is touting libertarian values, and then told everyone what they can and can’t do. Very hypocritical, but what can you do? Oh..go and drink on the tube while you can 😉

“Never mind how non-drinkers around them feel.”

I’m sure you can console yourself with the knowledge of how drinkers will feel throughout Johnson’s administration.

In fairness, protests ain’t what they used to be:

4. douglas clark

Just a brief question, is the Fred Singer PhD that the Centre for Policy Studies quotes the same Fred Singer PhD who has also supported the tobacco industry and thought Phobos, a satellite of Mars, might well be artificial?

It’s all there in Wiki. Can’t be the same guy though, can it?

Deltoid is quite rude about that Fred Singer, see here:



Short answer is I don’t know – blurb from the back of the paper:

“Dr S Fred Singer is the author (with Dennis T Avery) of Unstoppable Global Warming:
Every 1500 Years (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), which sets out the evidence for
viewing Global Warming in the context of historic climate cycles. He is the
Convenor of NIPCC and served as the editor of its report Nature, Not Human
Activity, Rules the Climate. An atmospheric and space physicist, Dr Singer is Professor
Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. He has received
numerous awards for his research, including a Special Commendation from the
White House for achievements in artificial earth satellites, a US Department of
Commerce Gold Medal Award for the development and management of the US
weather satellite programme, and the first Science Medal from the British
Interplanetary Society. He has served on state and federal advisory panels,
including five years as vice chairman of the National Advisory Committee on
Oceans and Atmospheres. He frequently testifies before Congress.”

A few clues in there suggest he may indeed be the same….

Of course, we could always combine the two great libertarian projects and assist people who don’t like drinking on the tubes by buying them a giant booze-free concrete saucer in the mid-Atlantic. They could then live out their buzz killing lives without any trouble at all from people having fun. Jolly dee, everyone’s happy.


“Alcohol has a significant impact on crime and anti social behaviour, not only rendering people more vulnerable but raising levels of aggression.
“Those under the influence of alcohol are more likely to cause disruption to the service through their physical state and conduct.

“We have seen numerous examples this evening of the negative impact of alcohol and antisocial behaviour. It is dangerous for those individuals and others.”

How did anyone on this supposedly ‘thinking’ blog expect the outcome of a binge drinking session on the tube to be anything other than violence and vandalism?

Why was it encouraged here?

Let me use my favoured allegory ac256:

“Football has a significant impact on crime and crime and anti social behaviour, not only rendering people more vulnerable but raising levels of aggression. Those under the influence of football are more likely to cause disruption to the service through their physical state and conduct. We have seen numerous* examples of the dangers of football and anti-social behaviour. It is dangerous for those individuals and others.”


Football: would you ban it?

Liberal Conspiracy, your sponsorship of this tragic spectacle will stand to your shame.

STFU, please. We met, we drank very nicely at a pub, chatted, had a great time meeting everyone, and made our way back responsibly.

Any idiot who falls for the inevitable media hunt for a few idiots, or thinks we are to blame somehow for it, is wasting my time.

And the time of everyone on Lib Dem voice as well, Sunny.

* hands you the alka seltzer *

“STFU, please.”

A response worthy of yesterday’s ‘protest’.

Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to sit drinking on the Circle line has obviously got time to waste.

Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to sit drinking on the Circle line has obviously got time to waste.

And so what if they have? You’re going to dictate how others spend their free time? That high horse of yours is going nowhere.

*takes Jennie’s alka seltzer graciously*

If only we could take the sort of attitude to groping and sexual assault on the tube (which actually harms others) as some people here are taking to drinking on the tube (which harms no-one until it gets to the point of doing something which was already illegal anyway such as harrassment or fighting) the world would be a better place.

How am I dictating anything? I’m just expressing surprise that any supposedly thinking person couldn’t have seen trouble coming last night.

Sunny you have personally and publicly used this blog and PP to encourage people to join in last night, so be a big man and stop trying to deny that you are “to blame somehow for it”. You egged it on.

I didn’t need the media to tell me anything, I had to get off the tube at 5pm and walk because there was already a problem at Edgware Road. The driver of my tube said sorry for the disruption caused by people on the Circle line protesting about the ban on alcohol by getting drunk and acting like idiots.

I’m pretty sure he wasn’t working for the media.

ac256 – So you are going to condemn all football fans now because of a few spoilers or some events in the past? Are you going to condemn all car drivers because some cause accidents, too? Shall you also condemn all Germans for the sins of their forefathers?

Frankly I’m concerned for your grasp of the language, in which it is clear from even the tube driver you quote that he wasn’t prepared to make the jump in logic which you ascribe to him, namely that the actions of a few reflect upon the conduct of the many.

Sorry ac, your tendency to suffer bias makes you unreliable.


much as I hate to rein in your totally unbiased attempt to extrapolate my point far and wide, I am simply pointing out the stupidity of organising a mass piss up on the London Underground. It’s not a pub.

I didn’t realise it was organised centrally! Surely many different groups combined their efforts on a similar focus with different results.

And I don’t know what kind of pub you’ve been into lately – of course the tube isn’t a pub and it’s pretty hard to confuse the two even when you are off your head, as you seem to be.

The idea that ten or so Liberal Conspirators and associates sitting in Tooley Street are somehow responsible for waves of sick on the Circle Line is a bit far-fetched, it’s not like LC’s circulation extends quite as far as the various London freesheets that publicised the Last Night. As it happened, the survivors ended up on the Northern Line, and it was perfectly OK there at 11:30, although both that and my subsequent Piccadilly Line train were pretty packed. There was even a great Canadian geezer busking with a banjo who kept us entertained.

If anyone’s to blame I’d start with whoever thought it was a good idea to bring the ban in on a late spring Saturday night when there was already Rugby at Twickenham, which usually demands a police presence down Richmond/Twickenham way, and regularly fills the buses, tubes and trains up with rowdy fans*. That automatically means fewer police able to deploy elsewhere in the capital if required. The timing was, of course, entirely a decision for the people bringing the ban in, and I think a few questions need to go in that direction.

Great to meet everyone, by the way.

* I used to live in Twickenham, have lots of rugby fan mates and have indeed gone swimming in the Thames after a post-match stag night in the Barmy Arms. It does get a bit fruity down that way regularly.

Well said Jennie.

ac256, how many drank on the Tube, and of those how many caused trouble on the Tube?

Thanks UKL

“The fact that a section of the British police force honestly thought that the problem was Channel 4 and not the hate-preachers …”

Did they ‘honestly’ think that, though, or were they playing politics instead?

Nearer the time, there was some interesting commentary from Andrew Anthony in the Guardian:

So why have the police taken up their case? Here we have to look at how the West Midlands force first became involved. They initially gained a court order to review Channel 4’s footage with the aim of prosecuting the Islamic clerics for incitement. Channel 4’s concern was only to expose the extremist attitudes demonstrated by some supposedly moderate preachers. It never thought there was a criminal case.

And it was proven right. This left the police and CPS with an expensive and time-consuming operation and no prosecutions, much less convictions. It also left them with a number of angry local community leaders able to complain of discrimination and intimidation.

It must be a concern when the police decide what we can and can’t say in such a context (reminds me also of the two recent ‘cult’ idiocies).

Worth noting that no-one has yet been held accountable for the investigation and defamatory comments resulting in a libel action and an out of court settlement – the latter obviously taken from the public purse, not by anyone personally.

Off the top of my head, those who came in order of arrival:

Dave Cole, Rumbold (Pickled Politics), Laurie (Penny Red, Libcon) Richard (Bartholomew’s Notes), Sadie (Sadie’s Tavern), Adam (Tory Troll, Libcon), Kate (Hangbitch, Libcon), Tom (Boriswatch), Gracchi (Westminster Wisdom, Libcon), Alix (Fabulous Porcupine), Rob Knight, Sonia (Pickled Politics), Michael and me.

Did I miss anyone out?

Thanks for coming everyone!

Rumbold was there before me 🙂

It was a fun afternoon. Sorry I had to disappear.

AC256, the fact that an elected official does something doesn’t mean we can’t protest against it.


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