On what's wrong with thinktanks: Letter by me in the current issue of PROSPECT
We at Green House cannot entirely agree with Bronwen Maddox when she says that the recent Prospect think tank awards demonstrated that "plunging markets and revolution have prompted radical new thinking." In one sphere at least that verdict seems questionable: it was noticeable that no green-leaning think tank featured on any of the shortlists mentioned for any of the awardsa disappointing state of affairs given the central importance of environmental policy to the current UK government (rhetorically at least) and to any serious approach to our current problems which looks beyond the short term.
The award winners, admirable though their work is, work very much within the established terms of the debate, at a time when the fundamental premises of capitalism are being called into question very widely and when talk of economic collapse is not confined to the tents outside St Paul's. It was this failure of the political commentariat, which prompted a group of influential environmental thinkers and writers to launch Green House in mid 2011. Green House differs from existing think tanks in that it sees its work as not just presenting policy options for tinkering but offering deeper challenges to the mainstream so as to "reframe" the debate. It has already published three substantial reports; this month, it will be presenting evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on the green economy; and in January we will launch a new report on giving a political voice to the largest disenfranchised group currently affected by our political decision-making unborn future generations.
Rupert Read, Chair, Green House and Ray Cunningham, Associate, Green House