Adam Smith Institute Nab Ex-Treasury SpAd as New Director

It’s all change over at the Adam Smith Institute. The top neoliberal think tank is having a major shakeup of its team, with Head of Research Daniel Pryor moving on to pastures new following the recent departures of Head of Comms Emily Fielder and Director of Strategy John Macdonald (not John McDonnell). Big roles to fill. That’s almost a complete turnover of their team…

Guido can reveal Madsen Pirie and Eamonn Butler have drafted in Duncan Simpson to steer the ship. Simpson previously worked as Chief Economist at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, along with a stint as a Treasury SpAd last summer. He’s taking over as the ASI’s new Executive Director. A known face in wonk world and a safe pair of hands…

Maxwell Marlow will return as the new Director of Research, having previously been the think tank’s Development Officer and Researcher before working at Hanbury Strategy. Connor Axiotes has already taken over as the new Director of Communications, joining from Richard Holden MP’s parliamentary office. Guido also hears rumours that long time Senior Fellow James Lawson, ex-Zahawi SpAd and Microsoft Defence CTO, will soon be getting more deeply involved in setting the Institute’s strategy…


mdi-timer 2 February 2023 @ 12:23 2 Feb 2023 @ 12:23 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
It’s Lights Out: IEA and TPA Slam Mini-Budget U-Turns

With Hunt shredding almost the entire mini-Budget, the free marketeer wonks have released horrified statements as the Chancellor bins almost all the tax cuts Liz promised for the last four months. The only silver lining is that the energy support will now be means-tested. Other than that, it’s brutal…

The TaxPayers’ Alliance didn’t mince its words. Chief Executive John O’Connell put out a withering putdown:

“The light at the end of the economic tunnel has now been extinguished by this chancellor. Millions of hard-hit households who were desperate for an income tax cut are now facing many more months of financial misery. To get a grip on this crisis, the government needs to lay out a serious plan for necessary spending reductions, including means-testing energy support measures.”

The Institute of Economic Affairs is also critical of the scale of the U-turn, although the tweaks to the energy package were welcomed. Director-General Mark Littlewood said:

“The Energy Price Guarantee was always an unnecessarily expensive programme, representing the single biggest welfare scheme in British history. As many of us said at the time, it is absurd to subsidise wealthy households to keep heating their swimming pools. A more targeted approach from next year is warmly welcome and will save significant money… The risk of higher taxes is that they put Britain back on the path towards a high tax, low-growth economy. As Goldman Sachs warned yesterday, higher corporate tax rates could deepen any forthcoming recession and ultimately damage the government’s fiscal position.”

Likewise, the Adam Smith Institute encouraged No.11 to at least stay focused on supply-side reforms. Head of Communications Emily Fielder added:

“The Chancellor has said that there will be difficult decisions on tax and spend in the coming years as we move towards a more secure financial footing. But there is plenty this Government can do which doesn’t involve changing tax thresholds or spending pledges ––moving forward with supply-side regulatory reforms would boost economic growth and activity at a time when it is desperately needed. The decision to properly target the energy price guarantee from April is welcome…”

Hopefully Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt is listening…

mdi-timer 17 October 2022 @ 12:34 17 Oct 2022 @ 12:34 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Free Market Wonks Eat Up Liz’s Plan to Scrap Junk Food Tax

Liz Truss’s planned review – a classic Whitehall euphemism for ‘we’ve already agreed on the direction of policy – of Boris’s nannying junk food policies is going down a treat among Tufton Street’s wonk residents. With the energy price freeze having seriously disappointed the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) last week, it looks like No.10 have managed to curry back favour this morning. IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowden said:

“Scrapping policies that make food and drink more expensive during a cost of living crisis is a no-brainer. The sugar tax has achieved nothing and the ban on volume price discounts will hurt everybody. We are long overdue a Prime Minister who puts the interests of consumers over the interests of nanny state pressure groups. Let us hope Liz Truss is that Prime Minister.”

The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s chief executive John O’Connell is also glad to see nanny state politics are off the menu:

“Junking these nanny state policies is long overdue. Plans to end buy-one-get-one-free were only going to pile pressure on hard-hit households during a cost of living crisis. Government cannot expect taxpayers to further tighten their belts and Truss is right to row it back.”

Meanwhile the Adam Smith Institute’s Head of Research Daniel Pryor added that junking the “anti-obesity crusade” will beef up ordinary people’s wallets:

“The Government’s anti-obesity crusade was always light on evidence but it weighs heavily on the wallets of hard-pressed consumers. It’s encouraging that the new Government could reverse the trend of politicians meddling with our weekly shop. Ordinary people have seen prices go up and choice go down whilst businesses have been burdened by yet more red tape. Multiple impact assessments—often based on questionable science—have failed to demonstrate significant impacts on public health. This has left a bitter taste in the mouth of Brits struggling with the cost of living crisis.”

Scrapping the ban on buy-one-get-one-free promotions and deals on junk food is one thing. Binning Osborne’s sugar tax would be a big step further. Hopefully Liz still has that appetite for small-c conservative politics like she promised…

mdi-timer 14 September 2022 @ 14:27 14 Sep 2022 @ 14:27 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
22 Ways To Speed Up Vaccinations, Ending £11 Billion-a-Week Lockdown Sooner

The Adam Smith Institute has today published a paper on how to implement an Israeli-style deployment to deliver vaccines at a greater pace. The paper notes that every additional week of the pandemic costs the taxpayer £6 billion, while reducing economic activity by £5 billion. In order to end it, the paper insists Government has to fully utilise the private sector, armed forces, and volunteers. Israel is currently vaccinating ten times faster than the UK.

From drive-in vaccine centres and 24/7 sites, to immediate approval of the Moderna vaccine, prizes for best employees and centres, and home delivery kits for diabetics who already self-inject – there is a lot here for policy makers to take up. The paper recommends boosting jab targets to six million doses per week, and to go even higher once that target is reached. Guido’s own suggestion is to turn now available empty schools and pubs into local vaccination centres.

Read how below:

Read More

mdi-timer 5 January 2021 @ 08:43 5 Jan 2021 @ 08:43 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Free Speech Act Proposed in Wake of Woke Clampdown

A Free Speech Act for the United Kingdom is among a new raft of proposals in a new paper by the Adam Smith Institute, modelled on the spirit of the United States’ First Amendment, to put the Tories’ 80-seat majority to good use and remove references to “insulting” speech from current legislation, limiting the scope of speech offences to “threatening” only. As raised repeatedly by Guido – along with the Free Speech Union – the UK is experiencing a ramping up of free speech clampdowns in recent months. Readers will remember the case of Darren Grimes being threatened with an interview under caution by the Met for publishing an interview containing racist comments made by David Starkey…

Legislation that criminalises speech has begun to be more harshly applied, from the Public Order Act 1986, Communications Act 2003, Terrorism Act 2000 and 2006, the Malicious Communications Act 1988. These laws, as applied, have created categories of “speech crimes” for ‘offensive’, though benign, political speech.

The ASI’s paper calls on parliament to immediately:

  • Remove all references to “abusive” or “insulting” words and behaviour from Parts I and III of the Public Order Act 1986;
  • Replace Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 with
    • (a) a provision that limits the scope of the existing rule to “threatening” only and
    • (b) a new rule that addresses meaningful stalking and cyberstalking threats 2 which cause or intend to cause substantial emotional distress, modelled after 18 U.S. Code § 2261A;
  • Repeal the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and replace it with the aforementioned stalking statute;
  • Introduce a United Kingdom Free Speech Act.

This proposal comes in the chilling context of new anti-speech UK ‘Online Harms‘ proposals, the Hate Crime (Public Order) (Scotland) Bill, and the Law Commission proposing blasphemy laws. Guido imagines more than a few Tory MPs will be receptive to the proposals…

mdi-timer 23 November 2020 @ 13:00 23 Nov 2020 @ 13:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Boris’ Real New Deal

In his big speech this morning Boris pitched a relaunch of his premiership after the side blow from Coronavirus. In it, he reiterating many of the manifesto commitments that delivered his 80 seat majority just six months ago – yet with a crucial difference. Project Speed…

“the Chancellor and I have set up ‘Project Speed’ to scythe through red tape and get things done”

Not only were billions in infrastructure spending committed – a new project designed to unleash private investment and get Britain building by slashing regulatory barriers has been set out:

  • A wider range of commercial buildings will be allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application
  • Builders will no longer need a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes
  • Property owners will be able to build additional space above their properties via a fast track approval process, subject to neighbour consultation.

The speech doesn’t sound quite so communist with these announcements…

Despite the lobby obsessing over the extra billions spent on top of the existing Coronavirus response, which has already sent debt ballooning, right-of-centre think tanks have welcomed the less talked about elements of the speech. Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute says:
“Usually you trail your best lines, but the Prime Minister’s best bit is yet to come: promised planning reform is the real new deal. Homeowners will be able to build up via a fast track approval process and neighbours’ consent; commercial and residential properties will be able to switch purpose without hindrance; and the developers will get the ability to demolish old stores to get people living on our high streets. This is a plan to build up, rebuild, and repurpose. 
Boosting building by cutting red tape as much as increasing government spending. If this is delivered quickly it could help the Tories win the next election…
mdi-timer 30 June 2020 @ 12:41 30 Jun 2020 @ 12:41 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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