“Would you like a think-tank to write about your product? Hey, would you like a think-tank to endorse your product in exchange for a fee? If so, have you thought about approaching Demos? “How can values-based products make the transition from the niche to mass market?” asks the latest Demos newsletter. “Why does increasing awareness rarely lead to changes in our consumption patterns?” Why indeed? If only our great thinkers had tackled that paradox. “This project will explore how Collaborative Brands can help values-based products make the transition, by connecting large numbers of individuals through a brand…”
“With reference to the item about Demos in last week’s edition, the think-tank has asked the Backbencher to make it clear that it is “plain wrong” to imply that it offers product endorsement in return for payment.”
As wonk-whores go, Demos flaunt it, one outrageous example: The Politics of Bandwidth: Network innovation and regulation in broadband Britain published by Demos, funded by Cable & Wireless. It recommended the break up of bitter rival BT and that the BT local loop be run not-for-profit. If you can’t beat em in the market-place, get a government friendly think-tank to recommend destroying ’em. Demos has a reputation for policy prostitution, so why did Backbencher back down? Guido reckons Demos have got away with writing sponsor-friendly press releases for too long. Think-tanks need to distance themselves from donors to have any credibility, otherwise they are just PR houses writing press releases.
Send writs and more blatant examples of wonk-whoring here.
This story was told to me by a former Demos intern. Asked at his interview what do you think about Demos? “I think you are very modern, because you have a lot of Ikea furniture.” “Ahh” replied the interviewer, “we wrote a pro-Ikea report and they paid us in furniture.” Guido wonders what report they could mean, surely not this by Charles Leadbeater?
Any more gossip about wonk-sluts? Send to the usual place Guido.
Demos’ wonks conclude with this utter drivel “the new driving force, creating new streams of knowledge, new kinds of organisations, new sources of authority, will be the Pro-Ams.”
What it will really mean is taxpayers funding more Grauniad adverts for Pro-Am Initiative Co-ordinators, Pro-Am Benchmarking Analysts etc. In the real world most people dread the phrase “We’re from the government, we’re here to help”. When will the wonks understand – LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE!