Stuart White is offering a sympathetic interrogation of the new liberal republic pamphlet by Richard Reeves and Phillip Collins, while I have reviewed it over at Liberal Conspiracy, suggesting that it opens several much more fruitful areas for a liberal and egalitarian left than the same authors' previous sallies at the poisoned well of the Fabian tradition.
Demos have always had their critics too: their post-modernity always offered an easy target. Demos were not, perhaps, entirely innocent as charged. Nick Cohen put the case against Demos' tendency to "End-ism" rather well in an Observer profile published ahead of the 1997 election (though they may plead in mitigation that we were at the end of the millennium):
Demos pronounces death sentences like Judge Jeffreys with a migraine. In just four years, it has declared "the end of politics", "the end of unemployment", "the end of social democracy", "the end of 200 years of industrial society", the end of "traditional definitions of what it means to be a man or a woman" and the end of "class-based left-right politics". As Angela Carter once drily put it: "the fin is coming a little early this siecle."
The tendency to millennial windiness is tempered by Geoff Mulgan, Demos's director, and one of the the few figures around New Labour who has not reduced the battle of ideas to the scramble for office.
But it should be recognised that Demos shook up the think-tank world very effectively - probably leading to a rather too many attempts elsewhere to apply Demos-deriviative methodologies of "blue sky thinking" with too little content and unsurprisingly diminishing returns.
For example, Geoff Mulgan's emphasis on "narrative" and story-telling in politics was important and once innovative (though politicians like Margaret Thatcher, like Moliere's character who had been speaking prose all of his life without knowing it, always had a strong sense of "narrative"). Now, thanks in part to Demos, everybody in politics goes around saying "what we need here is a narrative" even (often especially) when they have no idea what they would like said narrative to be. But the blame for that hardly lies with Demos alone.
One thing Demos were never short of was media attention. And perhaps one of the great things about being a post-modern think-tank dealing with a post-modern media is that memories can often be rather goldfish-like.
So one can only be impressed at how much attention both Demos and George Osborne have managed to attract by making a couple of Tory appointments to their advisory group.
But this does not seem to me to be particularly new, when the politics of post-ideology and beyond left and right were such dominant Demos narratives from the start.
Nick Cohen's 1997 profile quotes Martin Jacques, who was developing the Marxism Today argument for "a thinktank which would ignore the old boundaries" and Charlie Leadbeater saying "We have left behind the old argument. The tired old ideological conflicts have been replaced by a new common sense."
In all of the excitement at Tory involvement, nobody seems to recall that Demos was publishing John Gray on the death of social democracy in 1996, and Roger Scruton back in 1998.
And Demos have been running research projects and pamphlets in search of progressive Conservatism since at least 1998. (Where Phillip Blond may have an advantage over former Research Director Perri 6, who wrote many of the earlier Demos pieces on the prospects for a 'Tory third way' is that it was probably always going to be more difficult to influence conservatives if the research was led by a man who refused to have a surname).
A think-tank like Demos which has always been post-ideological and sceptical about party boundaries is bound to want to engage with all sides wherever it can.
No doubt there will be a certain instrumentalism on the side of the politicians. Some of that has a strong mid-1990s flavour. But that is par for the course, though I would not be surprised if David Willetts might well be rather more substantively engaged than George Osborne.
As with any think-tank, new or old, the new Demos at sixteen will be judged on the ideas it produces.
So a very happy birthday to them.
And, even if there is an element of deja vu, let the battle of ideas re-commence!