Think-Tankers on the Take

Wonk for Sale : The Times has an article that will seem familiar to this blog’s readers and will make a few wonks in London nervous. As the fall-out from the Doug Bandow scandal in Washington spreads – London based wonks who have taken cash to write press releases in the form of pamphlets will be keeping a low profile. Its pretty easy to work out who has been on the take, basically any think-tank that publishes favourable research which furthers the interests of any heavily regulated business will almost certainly have benefitted from corporate largesse.

The pharmaceutical industry in particular spends heavily to ensure that politicians keep the profits flowing from the taxpayers to the bottom line. An amazing number of think-tanks across the political spectrum have an interest in pharma-related issues and they all say the same things. Its like one big echo chamber.

The other suspect practise favoured by those think-tanks close to the government is cash-for-access, IPPR was a master of this wheeze. Never as crude as “give us a donation and we will introduce you to the minister”, but effectively that was the implicit deal offered. IPPR boasts of its “strong networks in government” and the flow of wonks to the civil service as special advisers (who later become well paid lobbyists) keeps the corporate cheques coming. IPPR has “partners” not clients. The IPPR pitch is careful, but clear: “partners have regular contact with our research directors to discuss the progress of projects relevant to their sector. Partners have the opportunity to get on the inside track of policy development. You bet they do.




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