Twenty Years of Ideas

In 2013, Demos marked its twentieth anniversary as Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank. Anniversaries are useful opportunities to take stock and look for patterns of meaning in the life of an organisation. Going back to the beginning, our founding document contains one phrase that jumps out: ‘It is difficult to remember a time when people had so little faith in the political process.’ Yet by comparison with today, 1993 was a golden age of trust in politics. So what impact has Demos had in its twenty years?

As this collection of essays reveals, plenty to shout about – both in terms of policies and ideas. Inside, Geoff Mulgan explores the history of Demos and politics over the past twenty years, while Andrew Adonis provides some solutions to the worsening problem of political disengagement. Mark Leonard revisits British national identity, and Michael Power tracks the phenomenon of audit, which has just kept exploding.

Other contributions demonstrate Demos’ impact on policy in areas as diverse as culture, science, education, the third sector, foreign policy, the wellbeing agenda, the BBC and public services. And we review more recent successes, such as our research into character, our work on citizen service, and Mariana Mazzucato’s argument for a more entrepreneurial state. As Demos enters its twentieth year, we remain committed to the core mission at our creation – bringing politics closer to people. As the parties of left and right have grown closer, so the gap between politics and the ordinary voter has continued to grow wider. Our emphasis now is on family, community and work: helping to narrow the gap in a more grounded way, through the things that people care about most.