The Role of Think Tanks: A Reply to the Critics

Because their aims are educational and democratic, what think tanks do and why they do it is entirely transparent: they ensure their research is publically available and seek to ensure it is disseminated via the media to as broad an audience as possible in the hope of swaying public opinion. Critics who promote the myth that all centre-right think tanks are Machiavellian backroom enterprises that pull the strings of feeble-minded politician-puppets, are choosing to ignore what is staring them in the face about think tanks’ so-called hidden influence. Publically declaring the policies and detailing the reasons why they want members of parliament to support these policies is both democratic and transparent, as well as a constant reminder that a think tank will achieve political influence only subject to the democratic process. Any influence over legislative outcomes will be entirely subject to the decisions made by democratically-elected representatives who are ultimately accountable to their electorates for those decisions.