Thinktanks we can believe in

Did I say I like Touchstone?

But he ignores the fact that the European left did not soar in the polls within days of the Great Crash. It took a World War and 15 years – does Tony Barber really not know this, or does he not mind displaying faux ignorance so publically?

Mind you, at least his sin is only to appear ignorant. Gideon Rachman seems rather proud, for a journalist, of eschewing the real world for the claret-swilling elite in his fearless pursuit of the facts.

He stresses how vital it is to share vintage port over the cheese course with diplomats and politicians if you want to find out what’s really going on in the Middle East peace process and the Doha Development Round trade talks.

I’ve been to these country-house colloquia myself, and of course I love them to bits. I prefer Wilton Park to the Ditchley venue that Gideon cites, but that may be because last time I was at Ditchley I had to suffer the indignity of having my workshop report sung in the bar by Shadow Cabinet member David Willets to a piano accompaniment (the tune was “Waltzing Matilda”) by the then Director General of the OECD (I’m not making this up – how could you?)

But I do rather feel that I find out more about the Middle East from my Palestinian mate Fathi whose door got kicked down by Israeli goons who thought his son was a member of Hamas last time he went to a conference.

Now that’s thinktankery you can believe in. Policy Exchange? Pathetic. And who knew Two Brains was a concert-party star?




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