The 11th year of Prospect’s Think Tank Awards showed that plunging markets and revolution have prompted radical new thinkingby Prospect / October 19, 2011 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine
Jonathan Portes (right), director of NIESR, receives our traditional honour of the “tank top for the top tank of the year” from Vince Cable
We live in extraordinary times. The past year has been one of drama: the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan in March; the Arab uprisings; the killing of Osama bin Laden; phone hacking; swings of 400 points in the FTSE index; the eurozone crisis.
Those events provided rich material for the candidates for Prospect’s 11th Think Tank Awards. So did the fierce, continuing debate about the age of austerity: where cuts should fall, how to stimulate growth, how big the public sector should be, and how to reshape it. Think tanks have taken on some of the biggest intellectual challenges for years.
Prospect set up these awards to recognise those who inject public debate with vital new ideas. We have two main criteria: originality, and influence on that debate or on government policy.
We had a record number of entries and nominations this year, even before counting those for the new category of International Think Tank of the Year.
Bronwen Maddox, the editor of Prospect, chaired the panel of judges, which included Baroness Vadera of Holland Park, adviser to governments, companies and funds, and former minister; Nader Mousavizadeh, chief executive of Oxford Analytica, previously special assistant to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan; James Crabtree, Financial Times comment editor; James Elwes, deputy editor of Prospect and former editor of Financial World; and Andy Davis, associate editor of Prospect, and former editor of FT Weekend.
Think tank of the year
The shortlist of five included the Resolution Foundation, founded in 2005, which has made a hugely impressive start under Gavin Kelly’s “very intelligent and clear” directorship, producing original and important papers on the “squeezed middle,” the minimum wage, and social mobility. Judges complimented the Institute for Fiscal Studies, always a towering presence in the British think tank landscape, for the “Mirrlees Review” on making tax fairer in the 21st century, but felt it had not been the organisation’s best year.