As political parties set out their stalls of new ideas in preparation for a general election, the increasing influence of privately funded research on political discussion will demand closer scrutiny. Private thinktanks are increasingly shaping national debates in the media, something made possible through the private funds required for high-profile launches, websites and email campaigns.
A striking example of this symbiotic relationship is Policy Exchange's report Living Apart Together, on Muslim social attitudes, which is officially launched today. It was released to the press two weeks ago to provide research cover for David Cameron's speech attacking multiculturalism and prominent Muslim organisations. The report included claims that a significant minority of Muslims were "living apart" from British society, claims that were widely reported in the media and appeared to legitimise Conservative party rhetoric.
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