Institute of Economic Affairs Director General Runners and Riders mdi-fullscreen

Now that Mark Littlewood has announced he’s stepping down as the Institute of Economic Affair’s Director General, one of the top jobs in wonk world is up for grabs. It is a high profile gig which will inevitably attract interest from all of Westminster’s brightest free marketeers. Littlewood steered the ship for 14 years; whoever comes next will have a lot to live up to. As well as formulating policies the IEA has incubated and nurtured free market talent – an important part of its role now the universities churn out ideologically uniform leftists. The job requires a mixture of talents: a policy guru with executive competence and a touch of media showmanship.

Here are some of the potential runners and riders…

  • Christian May – the former editor of City A.M., and prior to that, spokesman for the Institute of Directors has been spinning for corporates for a few years. He has excellent connections in Westminster and the media. If the IEA board are looking for someone in the mould of Littlewood, he’s an articulate media performer with executive experience of running an organisation. An homme sérieux with a sense of humour…
  • John O’Connell – has been running the Taxpayers’ Alliance for the last 7 years. He has a strong record of spotting and developing talent, sending numerous wonks and comms stars into government – talent spotting is an important movement function. Oversaw the TPA’s flagship Single Income Tax and 2020 Tax Commission, so is no stranger to serious academic policy development.  Has successfully maintained the TPA’s high media profile under his watch.
  • Douglas Carswell – currently CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Known for his pivotal role in the long struggle for Brexit and parliamentary defection to UKIP. People forget he contributed to the development of the Cameron’s manifesto and even wrote a best-selling wonk-ish personal manifesto. Has been writing more frequently for the British press of late. Does he fancy a return to SW1? 
  • David Frost – Baron Frost is said to be mulling over applying. The man who shaped Brexit in government has plenty of policy experience and a high profile. Whether the board will want someone who has made it clear they want to become an MP is another matter. He would also probably have to become a cross-bencher or take a leave of absence…
  • Juliet Samuel – the Times columnist is full of policy ideas and original takes on issues. Would she want to take on the demands of an executive position?
  • Tom Clougherty – Research Director & Head of Tax at the Centre for Policy Studies. Previously executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, and then editorial director in the Cato Institute’s Centre for Monetary and Financial Alternatives. Written extensively on pro-growth tax policy, which is probably bedtime reading for the IEA board…
  • Kate Andrews – Economics Editor at The Spectator. Ascended the ranks quickly in wonk world, working at the Adam Smith Institute before defecting to the IEA as their News Editor and then Associate Director. The veteran free marketer with all the right credentials is a fixture on Question Time, to the delight of Twitter. Does she fancy packing her bags and leaving Old Queen Street for another stint in wonk world?
  • Daniel Hannan – Baron Hannan is a former MEP and Board of Trade member. A founder of Vote Leave, and editor of The Conservative. Does the IEA fancy swapping one (soon-to-be) Lord for another?
  • Donal Blaney – The well-connected former head of the conservative madrassa, the Young Britons’ Foundation, latterly founder of Thatcher Centre has long-term links to American conservatives and donors. Would the “Rottweiler of the Right” really want to leave his lucrative legal practice and life in the Florida sunshine for Westminster?

The IEA is not without home grown internal candidates:

  • Shanker Singham – is the Director of International Trade and Competition at the Institute of Economic Affairs, as well as an Academic Fellow there. Currently heading up the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project at Babson Global, part of Babson College in Maryland. Will he want to cross the Atlantic?
  • Alex Morton – Currently IEA Director of Strategy. Formerly of the No. 10 policy unit, Policy Exchange, and the Centre for Policy Studies‘ Head of Policy. Also acted as policy lead on Kemi Badenoch’s Tory leadership campaign last year…
  • Matthew Lesh – Also an IEA incumbent, currently Director of Public Policy and Communications. Previously the Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute. A good media performer, with sound op-eds in the Telegraph, the Times, and the Spectator. Impressed his IEA colleagues enough to add the comms brief to his existing role as Director of Public Policy. Could he go for two promotions within six months?
  • Liz Truss – Served a brief tenure as Prime Minister, was previously at the Reform think tank and is rumoured to fancy running one again. She is apocryphally the politician most hosted by the IEA, though Maggie might dispute that and her Energy Price Guarantee policy really didn’t sit well with the IEA. That probably hurts her chances more than being PM for all of ten minutes. 

The IEA are accepting applications now, so wonks should dust off their CVs…

N.B: The list above is not hierarchical. It is (mostly) arbitrary. Write that cover letter, Liz.

mdi-tag-outline IEA Runners and Riders
mdi-account-multiple-outline Mark Littlewood
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