Demos (UK think tank)

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Demos think tank logo.JPG
Formation 1993
Legal status Charity (no. 1042046)
Location London

Demos is a think tank based in the United Kingdom.


Demos was founded in 1993 by former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques, and Geoff Mulgan, who became its first director. It was formed in response to what Mulgan, Jacques and others saw as a crisis in politics in Britain, with voter engagement in decline and political institutions unable in their view to adapt to major social changes. Demos was conceived as a network of networks which could draw together different sources of ideas and expertise to improve public policy.[1]

In the run up to the 1997 general election it was seen as being close to the Labour Party, in particular its then leader Tony Blair. It defines itself, however, as independent of any political party.[2] Geoff Mulgan went on to work inside Downing Street in 1997. At that time Demos was seen as central to New Labour's vision for Britain.[3]

Between 1998 and 2006, under Director Tom Bentley, it moved away from being just a think tank and an increasing part of its workload was described as 'public interest consultancy'.[citation needed] It also did an increasing amount of work internationally. Demos works with a number of partners including government departments, public sector agencies and charities.[3]

Madeleine Bunting, previously a columnist at The Guardian, was appointed Director of the organisation in 2006, but resigned shortly after taking up the post over differences with the trustees concerning the direction of the organisation.[4] She then returned to The Guardian and was succeeded as Director by Catherine Fieschi.[5] Catherine Fieschi stepped down in July 2008 and was succeeded by Richard Reeves,[6] a former economic journalist, Director of Research at the Work Foundation and biographer of John Stuart Mill. Reeves also co-presented the 2005 BBC programme "Making Slough Happy", a social experiment to improve the well-being of residents of a British town.[7]

On August 9, 2006, British Home Secretary Dr John Reid gave a speech at a Demos conference stating that Britons "may have to modify their notion of freedom", as a result of his plans, claiming that freedom is "misused and abused by terrorists."[8]

Over the summer of 2008 Demos cut back its workforce (from 23 full-time staff in January 2008[9] to 17 by September 2008[10]) and did not attend any political party conferences, leading to speculation that it was in financial difficulty.[11][12]

Following his appointment in 2010 as Special Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, Richard Reeves stepped down as Demos' Director and was replaced by former Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Kitty Ussher. She then left Demos and the new director is David Goodhart.[13]

Current projects[edit]

As of 2011, Demos has several core research programmes: Capabilities, Citizenship, Security, Economic Life, Progressive Austerity, Extremism and Open Data.[14] They also run two political research programmes: an investigation into progressive Conservatism, and a project on the future of the Left called OpenLeft[15] with former MP James Purnell.

In 2010, Demos started the Commission on Assisted Dying, which is intended to look into the "legal and ethical status of assisted dying".[16][17]

Demos has an open access policy, which means that all its publications are available to freely download under a Creative Commons licence.

Demos is unrelated either to the US think tank of the same name or to Demos Helsinki, the Nordic research and development organisation.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]