UK right-wing con-tanks

The relationship between free market think-tanks and the Tories is embedded and corrupt, and it is often unclear which node of the relationship is the wagging tail and which is the dog.  

Some think-tanks were created by politicians – Centre for Social Justice is an invention of Iain Duncan-Smith, some were created by politicians’ advisers – Tim Montgomorie (Centre for Social Justice, Unherd, CapX) was a speech writer for William Hague and Iain Duncan-Smith, some are entirely a forum for politicians’ contributions – Policy Exchange, and some are populated by lackeys of international wealth terrorists – Adam Smith Institute, Tax Payers’ Alliance, Institute of Economic Affairs, Centre for Policy Studies, Legatum Institute.  

Whatever the origin of a free market think-tank, or its age – some are decades old, the purpose of its relationship with the Tory government is a combination of keeping the government in line to serve the exploitative financial elite coupled with presenting the government’s plans as falsely as possible to con the public.  The image below encapsulates the think-tank/Tory government partnership.


Free market think tanks are keen abusers of language.  At no time in the entire history of the written word have “independent” and “grassroots” been used as frequently and as dishonestly as they are by right-wing think-tanks to describe themselves.  Their use of the word “freedom” is always the diametric opposite of the meaning of freedom.  

Free market think-tanks are funded by large corporations and financial institutions; they are effectively part of the PR teams and, simultaneously, the sales teams of the latter.  However, that relationship is hidden by the largest and most active think-tanks.  Transparify Report on Think-Tank Funding is a good account of funding transparency and it revealed that right-wing think-tanks are very secretive.

Transparify table showing transparency of think-tank funding

Every mainstream British TV channel, radio station and newspaper uses free-market think-tanks to supply “experts” for group debate, analysis and opinion pieces.  Sometimes these voices are presented by the media as corporatist perspective on the topic being discussed but often they are cast as “independent” voices.  The latter scenario is fraudulent and deceitful; the media outlet hosting the think-tank member is sometimes party to this deceit, sometimes not.  If the media outlet is unaware of the fraudulent independence claim then sheer laziness coupled with misplaced urgency to get someone to comment are the causes of the error.  The think-tanks know that most media outlets are hurried and desperate to get a talking head on quickly to compete with other outlets, and the former have nurtured contacts with gullible staff so that there are always think-tank voices ready and available.  The BBC is particularly culpable with the ease on which the free market think-tanks are able to get themselves airtime as false “independent” voices.  (see BBC News: Balance and Bias)

Think-tank hopper Tim Montgomorie on BBC TV

Below are links to descriptions of free market think-tanks based in Britain including some examples of how they concoct narratives to help the Tories to con the public.  Some of their respective members who may appear in the media are named.

UK right-wing con-tanks

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