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Demos is a Liberal-Left think tank based in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1993 by former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques, and Geoff Mulgan, who became its first director. The organisation is a registered educational charity.

Demos works with a number of groups and government departments, public sector agencies and charities. It specialises in public policymaking in a range of areas - from education and skills to health and housing.

Demos houses the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM), which leads the study of how the rise of the digital world affects politics, policy and decision-making.

The current Chief Executive is Polly Curtis, a former journalist and editor at the Marxist newspapers, The Guardian, the HuffPost UK, Tortoise Media, and PA Media.[1]



Demos 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 [such as political correctness etc. Demos was conceived as a network of networks which could draw together different sources of ideas and expertise to influence public policy.[2]

In the run-up to the UK 1997 general election it was naturally supportive of the Labour Party, in particular its then leader Tony Blair. It laughingly defines itself, however, as independent of any political party.[3] Astonishingly 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.[4]

21st century

Between 1998 and 2006, under the then 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'.

On 9 August 2006, in a speech at a Demos conference, British Home Secretary, John Reid, stated that British people 'may have to modify their notion of freedom, as a result of his plans, claiming that freedom is 'misused and abused by terrorists'.[5]

Over the summer of 2008, Demos cut back its workforce (from 23 full-time staff in January 2008[6] to 17 by September 2008[7]) and did not attend any political party conferences, leading to speculation that it was in financial difficulty.[8][9]

In 2010, David Cameron, then leader of the opposition fake Conservative Party, launched Demos's "Character Inquiry", giving a speech on the importance of parenting and early years support.[10]

Following his appointment in 2010, as Special Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (now with Facebook in California), author Richard Reeves stepped down as Demos's Director and was replaced by former Economic Secretary to the Treasury Kitty Ussher.[11] She left Demos in 2012, with David Goodhart (a great-great-grandson of Mayer Lehman, co-founder of Lehman Brothers), taking over as director. In 2011 Ben Rogers created the 'Centre for London' within Demos, before establishing it as an independent registered charity in 2013.

In January 2012, Demos set up the 'Centre for the Analysis of Social Media' (CASM) to research trends in social media, and the role on-line conversations can play in political engagement and social policy research. CASM lead digital media monitoring for the 2015 British General Election and focuses on how the rise of the digital world affects politics, policy and decision-making.[12]

In January 2014, Claudia Wood became Demos's Chief Executive. She joined Demos in 2009, after leading policy in other UK think tanks and in Tony Blair's strategy unit.[13]

Polly Mackenzie joined Demos as the new Director in January 2018. Like the abovementioned Richard Reeves, she also had previously worked for Nick Clegg from 2006 to 2015, helping to write the 2010 Coalition Agreement, and served as Director of Policy to the Deputy Prime Minister from 2010 to 2015.[14]