Last night Prospect held our 9th annual think tank of the year awards, Britain’s most pointy-headed award ceremony, at the RSA in London. The awards are decided by a bi-party panel of six judges over a series of meetings in the months prior to the awards, a process greatly helped by the willingness of nearly 40 think tanks to fill in our various nomination forms.
David Willetts MP, shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills gave the evening’s key note address, making two striking statements. First, having joked that progressive think tanks like the IPPR faced a choice of whether to become part of the “official opposition” he called on traditional tanks of the left to work with an incoming Conservative government, rather than against it. Then, in a neat turn of phrase, he argued that British think tanks (as opposed to their more staid American counterparts) were the policy equivalent of hedge funds: entrepreneurial, lightly regulated, and prone to taking risks in search of headlines.