Four things think tanks will need to address in a ‘post-truth’ political environment

Here at WonkComms the topic of ‘post truth’ politics has cropped up numerous times over the past couple of years – in our Breakfast Club discussions, on Twitter and in blogs. So I was really pleased to see that Chatham House, the Institute for Government and LSE Ideas have teamed up to put on an event discussing exactly this and asked Matthew Cadeoux-Hudson, to tell our WonkComms readers all about it and how they can take part.

Watch the event live online here from 2.30pm on Tuesday 30 January


Trump and the rise in France of the Front National have changed the norms of political debate and technology and the rise of social media have shaped how people receive and react to political developments and news.

Think tanks, as part of this political debate and as shapers of news and information, must adapt in order to remain relevant and influential.

In an environment where political dialogue is informed by appeals to emotion and personal belief think tanks need to change the way they engage with the public and how they communicate with governments if they want to continue to effectively shape policy.

Brexit is already testing the ability of UK think tanks  to adapt their relationships with a British government that will be less influential within Europe and, very likely, beyond. Already the UK no fully longer participates in EU Council meetings where important policy discussions take place, for example on sanctions against Russia. Further afield EU embassies are generally better resourced and staffed than those of the UK and this could have a major impact on Britain’s soft power and international influence. .

For  UK think tanks with any kind of focus on European affairs there is a pressing need to maintain contacts with civil society organisations in Europe, with the decision-making bodies in Brussels in order to at the very least understand and explain – and hopefully but perhaps not likely – influence in some way EU  policy post-Brexit.

As part of the Go To Think Tank Rankings launch 2017 Chatham House, the Institute for Government, and LSE IDEAS are joining hundreds of other think tanks around the world to discuss these and related issues of the think tanks’ role in government and civil society. Bringing together think tank experts, politicians, and journalists we will address:

  • how think tanks remain relevant to both the public and policymakers to promote good governance and offer objective policy advice?
  • what new communications tools and messages can think tanks adopt to reach the public when competing with other narratives?
  • how will London-based think tanks respond when, as is likely, Brexit prevents the UK from being part of the decision-making processes behind EU foreign and other policies?
  • what are the best institutional policies that ensure that civil society organisations in the UK maintain their close links with Europe and continue to influence policy in the EU?

The meeting will take place on 30th January 2018 from 14:30-15:30 at Chatham House and will be led by Leslie Vinjamuri, Visiting Senior Fellow, LSE IDEAS, Associate Fellow, US and the Americas Programme Chatham House, Denis MacShane, Minister of State for Europe (2002-05), Rosa Balfour, Senior Fellow, Europe Program, German Marshall Fund and Matthew d’Ancona, Columnist, the Guardian.

If you would like to attend please link here to register your interest.

Watch live online here

Matthew Cadoux Hudson is Communications and Publications Co-ordinator at Chatham House 

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