Recent Think-tanks Articles

Why Cameron faces stiff resistance to gay marriage: mapping the UK religious right

by Unity     May 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Given the debate in the House of Commons, I think it’s well worth reflecting on exactly where opposition to equal marriage is coming from and, particularly, how that opposition is being organised.

As far as public opinion is concerned, YouGov President Peter Kellner laid out the actual position with admirable clarity yesterday:

The passions of grass-roots Tories who are bitterly opposed to same-sex marriage are not shared by the wider electorate. Most voters back a change in the law – and very few opponents are willing to switch their votes because of this issue.

So, among the public as a whole, 4% are pro-same-sex marriage AND say this is a vote-deciding issue, while 3% are in the opposite camp. Among those who voted Conservative in 2010, just 6% say this is a vote-deciding issue, and they divide 3-1 against same-sex marriage. So even there, the net effect is tiny.

So, not only do a majority of the public support marriage equality but its also anything but the political hot potato that its (mostly) Tory opponents are trying to make out.

However, one issue not many pick up on is the parallel problem of ‘organisational capture’, i.e. what us lefties used to refer to as ‘entryism‘.

In simple terms, it is not simply a matter of the decline in the mass membership of political parties, and other organisations, leaving them increasingly at the mercy of their residual ‘swivel-eyed’ activist rump. It also leaves them in a position where, starting at the grassroots level, they become increasingly susceptible to capture by organised minority interest groups intent on using the party/organisation as a vehicle to push their own narrow agenda.

Although this is problem that is, historically, most closely associated with the political left, and in the UK particular with the takeover of the Labour Party Young Socialists and Liverpool City Council by Militant, it is an issue that is increasingly coming to bedevil conservative politics, particularly in the United States. For example, one of the more alarming and poignant stories to emerge from the 2010 US election was that of Bob Inglis, a former Republican member of the US House of Representatives who was deselected in 2010 after losing a primary to Tea Party-backed candidate.

You might think this can safely be filed away under ‘only in America’, but don’t be so sure.

Take a good hard look at the following chart which I’ve put together in an attempt to map the many connections that already exist between our own right-wing Christian lobby and both their US counterparts and, more importantly, with a wide range of British conservative political organisations and politicians.

The map, which is far from complete, shows the extent to which our own religious lobby has already forged connections and assumed positions of influence throughout the right-wing/conservative movement in Britain.

It also shows the extent to which political opposition to measures such as equal marriage and legal access to safe abortion services originates with and is tied into a very narrow range of closely connected religious groups.

(download as a print quality PDF, 1mb)

If you think that the religious right in Britain is no more than a bunch of fringe evangelical groups with few connections and very little political influence, this chart may well persuade you to think again.

A longer version of this post is here.

The Adam Smith Institute’s dishonesty on Robinhood tax

by Guest     November 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

contribution by Owen Tudor

It’s often said that Adam Smith would turn in his grave if he knew what was argued in his name, and the latest Adam Smith Institute attack on the Robin Hood Tax would certainly be enough to make his skeleton blush crimson.

In just eight pages it manages to be confused, exaggerated, dishonest and illogical, and if that’s the best the ASI can come up with their (already anonymous, which must save some blushes) funders should be asking for the money back.
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Why the TPA report on BBC’s healthcare bill falls flat

by Tim Fenton     May 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Today brings new “research” from the array of non-job holders at the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). And this is no ordinary “research”: it bears the imprimatur of its head Matthew Sinclair. It is also dishonest.

The story, claiming that the BBC, and Welsh language channel S4C, ‘Spend Millions on Private Healthcare’, is based on FOI requests. And the TPA slip up even before they’ve done with the heading: putting the spend for the Beeb in 2010 together with that for S4C in 2010-11 gives a total of just under £810,000. So “Spend Millions” [present tense] is plain flat wrong.
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A reply to Policy Exchange: are public workers really that better off?

by Nicola Smith     May 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Today’s Telegraph led with the claim that ‘workers are 40% better off in public sector’. The claim that public sector wages are ‘out of control’ is based on this research from Policy Exchange.

But in February the IFS concluded (in research which Policy Exchange have referenced, and therefore presumably read) that the gap was 6%. So who is right?
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The hole at the heart of Blue Labour and Red Toryism

by Adam Lent     April 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Red Tory Philip Blond is an acknowledged influence on David Cameron while Ed Miliband, The Guardian revealed on Friday, will soon make a speech responding to the ideas of Blue Labour guru Maurice Glasman.

Beyond this shared influence on their respective party leaders, there is also considerable overlap in their outlooks. But they also share one glaring problem.
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Demos likes mobility but doesn’t pay its interns

by Don Paskini     April 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Here’s think tank Demos, responding to the government’s new Social Mobility Strategy:

We’re welcoming many of the plans in the Coalition’s social mobility strategy.

The paper takes on policies recommended by Demos around parenting, early years, internships and vocational education.

Research by Demos says: continue reading… »

Why I’m opposed to Compass opening its membership beyond Labour

by Sunny Hundal     February 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

The left-wing pressure group Compass is currently asking members whether they should open up membership to beyond the Labour party. Non-aligned people can already join (I joined Compass way before the party) but Greens / Libdems can’t.

The odd thing is that I was initially very much for opening up the membership, and there are strong arguments in favour. But after much consideration I’ll be voting against this measure.
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Should we be telling teenagers how to drink?

by Guest     February 12, 2011 at 10:00 am

contribution by Claire Turner

For many, underage drinking conjures up images of young people drinking lots of cheap, strong alcohol in a public place getting out of control. But does this stereotype match the reality of teenage drinking cultures?

A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation takes a closer look at alcohol use in groups of teenage friends.
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Right-wing wonks claim the battle for equal pay for women has been won

by Rowan Davies     January 4, 2011 at 11:10 am

The latest piece of wearying cognitive dissonance from a right-wing think tank is published by Dr Catherine Hakim, reporting on ‘feminist myths’ in employment practices.

Dr Hakim from the Centre for Policy Studies argues that the battle for equal opportunities has been won (yay!), and that further activity by the all-powerful feminist lobby would be counter-productive.

You may be thinking: ‘why should I give a tuppenny sod about what the CPS thinks?’. The problem is, these people are the non-horse-related working parts of Cameron’s brain.
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Why I’m seeking judicial review over Liam Fox’s Atlantic Bridge

by Guest     September 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

contribution by Stephen Newton

You may easily have missed it, but in July the trustees of the Atlantic Bridge, a charity founded by defence secretary Liam Fox to promote closer ties between senior Conservatives and their US allies, agreed with the Charity Commission that they would cease all their current activities immediately.

This was a serious blow to those who would import US style neo-Conservatism to Britain and not just because the charity will no longer be able to pay for Fox and co to travel the US.

Yet while the effective closure of the Atlantic Bridge was a significant success in itself, questions remained over the fate of the charity’s assets.
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