UPDATE :The IPPR press office has just invited Guido to the seminar. No alcoholic enticement has been offered.
Wonks for Sale : One of the most money-grubbing think-tanks in wonkland, the Institute for Public Policy Research is holding a seminar on “morality in politics” today. Guido laughed out loud on reading that, no think-tank could be less qualified to pontificate on the subject.
As a think-tank IPPR is the leading cash-for-access practioner and is without doubt the undisputed master of this wheeze. Never so crude as “give us a donation and we will introduce you to the minister”, but effectively that is the implicit deal offered. IPPR boasts of its “strong networks in government” and the flow of wonks to the civil service as special advisers (SpAds), who later go on to become well paid lobbyists, keeps the corporate cheques coming. IPPR describes it clients as “partners” . 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.
It has come to something when a left-wing union, the GMB, has become so outraged with the wonk-SpAd-lobbyist merry-go-round which has IPPR at its epicentre that it was prepared to go to the trouble of producing a revealing report on the subject last week. Only the Brownite Smith Institute gives IPPR a run for it’s money – forinstance when Ed Balls moaned about his penury before becoming an MP, a well paid sinecure at the Smith Institute was found to endogenously wedge him up. The Smith Institute can expect to boost it’s coffers at IPPR’s expense if Gordon becomes PM. The GMB’s 27 page report focuses page after page on the IPPR’s revolving door and people. The New Local Government Network is another bastion of New Labour’s soft corruption – it has replaced the Freemasons as the way to get on in local government (sponsored by Capita). Knowing IPPR, Guido can only wonder who is paying for this “morality in politics” seminar. The press office has been strangely unhelpful so far…