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This Week’s Think Tank Roundup…


10:50 am - June 21st 2008

by Liam Murray    


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Welcome to this weeks round-up – an (almost) ‘David Davis / 42-day’ free zone. As of next week I’m going to drop the classification between left & right – I always anticipated this causing problems and I’ve actually been contacted by some organisations with a polite request to classify them differently.

While some groups like Compass and the ASI can be easily identified with left or right, many others such as the Kings Fund, Theos etc. are harder to align and there’s a strong case that it diminishes the work of them all to assign them such blunt political labels. I trust none of my readers as so blindly partisan as to only read one part of the update anyway. In the weeks ahead I’ll look at a more meaningful way of organising the update, perhaps into reports & publications, briefings & articles, events etc.

As ever please flag anything worthy I might have missed.

Right \ Libertarian Think Tanks

  • The Centre for Policy Studies daily blog had an interesting post from ‘harrysnook’ on why the Conservatives should lead calls for a written constitution“[The] party must ensure that conservatism of values does not ossify into conservatism of forms…A written constitution could entrench our historic liberties and take them above the fray of party politics. Although it runs counter to the traditional line of conservative thinking, it is a possibility that must not be dismissed out of instinctive unease, but must be taken seriously as a modern means to protect an ancient heritage”
  • The CPS Lectures page also carries the audio from David Cameron’s speech on Tuesday night – ‘Public Services in the Post-Bureaucratic Age’.
  • Chatham House carried one of the best (if not the best) analysis I’ve read of the impact of the Irish ‘No’ vote. Written for their monthly magazine ‘The World Today’ you can read the full text by Senior Research Fellow Robin Shepperd here – he touches on the fact that for both pro and anti EU types democratic legitimacy is fast becoming issue no.1 and the French President will have an opportunity to address it – “Sarkozy will shortly have the power to reorder the political agenda in Europe. If he uses it to promote an honest appraisal of what is going wrong, based on an understanding that the issue of democratic legitimacy is now the EU’s priority number one, he will have performed a vital service. For make no mistake about it. There is much at stake. If the EU mishandles the situation following the Irish ‘no’ vote, matters could spiral out of control”
  • The Institute of Economic Affairs have an entertaining discussion paper by Philip Booth called ‘Market Failure: A Failed Paradigm’“If I were to give you an engineering lecture and I were to start by saying, correctly I believe, that the maximum theoretical speed of a perfect car was the speed of light3 and that a car that travelled at any speed lower than that was a ‘failed car’ or suffered from ‘car failure’, you would probably think that it was a pretty useless lecture. And you would be right.” Read on….
  • The New Local Government Network have a radical proposal for how local councils can mitigate the impact the credit crunch has on the housing market in their areas ‘adopt US style Mortgage Support Plans and offer below market rate, whole or partial mortgages to either stave off repossession and eviction, prop up the housing market to prevent remortgage difficulties, or support first time buyers to buy locally’. (extract only – full report £12)
  • The Henry Jackson Society urges UK politicians to better understand the link between sound education policy and sustained social justice.
  • On the Adam Smith Institute’s blog Tom Clougherty has an interesting post on the options to reform local government finance“Perhaps the solution lies in taking a localist approach to the reform itself. Rather than driving through a particular reform from the centre, empower local authorities to come up with their own solutions. Give them a range of potential taxes to choose from, and let them strike the balance. If people didn’t like what their council came up with, they could always vote them out or move”

Left \ Liberal Think Tanks

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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


As always, a great round-up.

Thanks Liam.

“…A written constitution could entrench our historic liberties and take them above the fray of party politics. Although it runs counter to the traditional line of conservative thinking, it is a possibility that must not be dismissed out of instinctive unease, but must be taken seriously as a modern means to protect an ancient heritage” ~ Centre for Policy Studies daily blog

This is what pisses me off. So the Tories will be the ones who enshrine our liberties, while all the time taking shots at the Human Rights Act?

Do they care about inherent human rights, or not?

Well the Tory argument is (if I remember rightly) that they believe the ECHR covers everything that needs covering and that for some reason the HRA simply provides more human rights for British criminals. I don’t understand the argument, but it’s not one that says human rights are pointless or unnecessary.

Yeah the ECHR

Errrr, isn’t the ECHR supposed to protect you from excessive actions by the state?

Ok, it seems to have been poorly interpreted by British courts at times, but it remains an important protection. Surely there is some clause in the ECHR that can would limit excessive detention without charge… Say to 14-days? :o) I know, it would be been used by now.

Thanks Aaron. Niether Tories nor Labour have a blemish-free record when it comes to the protection or advance of liberties.

Arguably the tradition more closely associated with limiting the power of the state is the right but that tradition is sullied because social conservatives were happy to tell people who they could & couldn’t shag etc. undermining notions of liberty. It’s reasonable enough to imagine a more liberal Tory party (like the one we have now) doing more for personal liberty than a Labour party with authoritarian instincts. There’s a bit of the ‘only Nixon can go to China’ going on here as well….

As far as I’m aware no-one has actually challenged the detention period through ECHR, but I am well aware I could be wrong.


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