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General election: How can think tanks shape policy and political debate?

At this joint IfG and Charity Commission event, we explored the role of think tanks in the run up to a general election.

panel on stage at the Institute for Government

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Political parties are increasingly focusing their energy and resources on the approaching general election campaign. The pace will be relentless. The atmosphere will be increasingly fraught. So as the campaign intensifies, how can think tanks make themselves heard – and help to shape policy and political debate?

A dramatic – and sometimes chaotic – decade in British politics has brought new challenges to think tanks. Different think tanks, with a range of political views and policy priorities, play different roles – but how has their work evolved in recent years? What level of influence do they have in shaping the priorities and policies of opposition parties and government and how does this change in an election year? What are a think tank’s responsibilities when it works with political parties, government ministers or their advisers? And does being a registered charity impact how a think tank can inform and influence public debate and policy development?

These questions and more were explored in a joint Institute for Government and Charity Commission event featuring:

  • Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the Centre for Social Justice
  • Polly Curtis, Chief Executive of Demos
  • Orlando Fraser KC, Chair of the Charity Commission
  • Dr Hannah White OBE, Director of the Institute for Government

The event was chaired by Lord O'Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service (2005–11).

Follow us on X (formerly known as Twitter) @ifgevents and join the conversation using #IfGgeneralelection.

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