In Defence of Liberty

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The Think Tank with Sparse Thoughts

Is Labour Left really a think tank? (Edited: Wade M)

Is Labour Left really a think tank? (Edited: Wade M)

Think tanks are institutes that conduct research and advocate political ideas, pickling the minds of intellectuals and fermenting new public policy.

In Britain, the oldest think tank is the Fabian Society, established in 1884.

“Labour’s largest think tank”

It is a curious description of Labour Left, which claims to be “Labour’s largest think tank”.

Typically, think tanks are not measured in memberships, but in research output or financial turnover.

The International Business Times cited Dr Éoin Clarke, in an article about Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham. The article read:

According to Dr Eoin Clarke, founder and director of Labour Left, a left-leaning thinktank, Bailey’s claims in the Mail on Sunday amount to a smear campaign.

This organisation began its young life under the name of GEER UK (Gender, Environment, Equality and Race UK).

After writing on the “wish to put principles back into policy making”, Dr Clarke continued:

The panel agreed that under Ed Miliband Labour have now got an opportunity, as the Parliamentary Labour Party is more healthily balanced than it has been for a decade; we agreed that is up to the party leadership to chart a course for Labour.
GEER’s role will be to aid that by putting forward constructive policies to halt the consumerisation of our services.

Left Futures, which describes itself as “an independent on-line network”, had a description of Labour Left, after it changed its name:

[A] broad based campaign group within the Labour Party. At its core are a group of thinkers who generate policy which they hope will be considered for inclusion in the 2015 Labour Party manifesto.

The latest version of Labour Left’s description says it is “Labour’s largest think tank”, and claimed it was “set up in 2011 explicitly to help Ed Miliband become the next Prime Minister”.

This founding purpose of the organisation was seemingly absent from articles at the time of its actual founding.

Despite suggesting that Ed Miliband's election was the purpose of their founding, this was not explicit at the time. (Source: Labour Left)

Despite suggesting that Ed Miliband’s election was the purpose of their founding, this was not explicit at the time. (Source: Labour Left)

Labour Left has a WordPress purchased website, and an active Twitter account.

The website says the organisations wishes to formulate new policies around five “pillars”: housing, transport, childcare, wages, and energy.

The website provides no summary of what the organisation purports should be the policies in these “pillars”.

Research Output

In terms of research output, which should be expected of institutes calling themselves think tanks, there is very little.

In November 2011, Labour Left released the Red Book, a long collection of essays from various writers.

A laborious contributor to the Red Book was Professor Beverley Clack of Oxford Brookes University, who wanted to include her work with Labour Left as part of the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Professor Clack attempts to tenuously link statements in her essay with those of former Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband, to suggest the former had influenced the latter.

It is noteworthy that Labour Left receives the following description in the REF 2014 document:

Labour Left, the Labour Party Think Tank, is a grassroots organisation developing new public discourses that aim to move Labour towards an ethical socialist position.

Even examining Labour Left’s original work, it is scarce.

On April 30th 2015, Dr Clarke published Foodbank Britain a clearer picture onto Labour Left.

Ignoring Dr Clarke’s torturous relationship with grammar, this article actually involves the author researching a topic and discovering new information.

Other original articles have the flavour of 10 things Labour need to fix if they want a majority in 2015, also by Dr Clarke.

This involves no research or new information, and merely makes various opinionated assertions, often without citations:

1. Labour’s Rebuttal Unit is not fit for purpose. It is overly staffed with decent MPs, but MPs who do not have the time to master the detail to accurately/swiftly rebut Tory lies.


The vast majority of the website’s content is merely the publication of Labour press releases.

As of 6th June 2015, only one of the last ten articles has not been republished Labour press statements: 100 reasons for Labour to fight back against the Tories.

This post by Dr Clarke is, in actuality, a republication of earlier work.

The first post was published on May 27th 2015 and is a blatant self-plagiarism of David Cameron’s 100 biggest failures, published on April 10th 2015, and a duplicate of 100 reasons to #GetCameronOut, published on February 17th 2015.

These articles are not even articles advocating particular policies, but rather complaints that the author has about contemporary Britain.

Elementary spell-checking is apparently above the research standard of this think tank:

15. In 2010, the Tories, aided by the Lid Dems, tripled Tuition Fees to £9,000 (evidence)

Sparse Thoughts

It is left to Labour Party members to decide how they wish to politically organise.

However, Labour Left does not appear to align with a common understanding of a think tank, or a policy institute.

It is a think tank with sparse thoughts.


One comment on “The Think Tank with Sparse Thoughts

  1. Pingback: Copy and Haste IV: Sources | In Defence of Liberty

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This entry was posted on June 8, 2015 by in National Politics and tagged , , , .
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