Kate Andrews is Spectator’s New Economics Correspondent

Fraser Nelson has lured Kate Andrews from the Institute of Economic Affairs to become the Spectator’s economics correspondent. He wants her to produce economic stories rooted in fact. If as Guido suspects we are about to enter into an era of big spending, big government under the Tories, it is a shrewd move for the Tory house journal to have an economic critique rooted in free market thinking. Fraser has always had a penchant for charts and data so Kate will have to brush up her spreadsheet skills. Her years at the IEA, and before that the ASI, articulating the case for free markets in studios and on Question Time panels has been impressive…

mdi-timer 20th November 2019 @ 12:57 pm 20th Nov 2019 @ 12:57 pm mdi-comment Comments
IEA Brexit Prizewinner Appointed Science and Universities SpAd

The SpAd List continues to be filled up with people with excellent free-market, free-thinking pedigrees. Iain Mansfield, a former FCO man in Manila, who won the IEA’s coveted Brexit Prize a whole half-decade ago in 2014 for his ‘Openness, not Isolation’ Brexit blueprint for an “open, prosperous and globally engaged UK that is eminently achievable” is joining Jo Johnson at BEIS to work on the science and universities brief. He’s since written a number of very sensible articles on ConHome

Sadly for the IEA it doesn’t technically bump them up in the SpAd think tank league table, with the TaxPayers’ Alliance still holding a commanding lead. However it’s yet another sign of the positive, outward-looking way the Government is approaching Brexit…

mdi-timer 13th August 2019 @ 4:39 pm 13th Aug 2019 @ 4:39 pm mdi-comment Comments
Charity Commission Retracts Official Warning to the IEA

The Charity Commission has sheepishly withdrawn the warning it had issued to the Institute of Economic Affairs in February after accepting that their initial response was disproportionate. The warning had been issued earlier this year over the launch of a Brexit-related trade paper, Plan A+. Funnily enough they haven’t given the retraction as much of a media push as they did when they issued it…

The IEA say they are “delighted that the Charity Commission has decided to withdraw the Official Warning with immediate effect”, despite this Guido can still see the warning on the Charity Commission website this morning. Think tank charities publish policy proposals the whole time without the Charity Commission getting involved. Their original decision to take such aggressive action solely against the IEA smelled heavily of political interference…

UPDATE: The Charity Commission have now issued a statement:

“We can confirm that the Official Warning against IEA has been withdrawn with immediate effect. A report published by the charity in September 2018 crossed the line and represented a breach of charity law. In light of steps the charity has taken since the breach was brought to its attention, we have now withdrawn that warning. The charity has made commitments to cooperate with us, and we welcome that.”

This is some heavy spin from the Charity Commission. In their letter to the IEA informing them of their decision to withdraw the warning, the Commission both accepted that the IEA had taken “immediate steps” to implement the “remedial actions” they requested – several months prior to the issuing of the official warning – and admitted that their decision to subsequently issue the warning anyway:

“did not deal fully with certain aspects relating to procedure, fairness, and proportionality and aspects of the reasons for the warning.”

These are significant admissions from the Charity Commission about the deficiencies in their own procedures. Airbrushing them entirely from their statement given their clear relevance to the decision is a pretty shameless cover-up…

UPDATE: David Davis comments:

“Glad to hear the Charity Commission has withdrawn the official warning against the IEA. It was a wholly inappropriate case against them and would have resulted in a chilling effect on the entire thinktank sector, hindering bold thinking and the creation of new ideas.”

mdi-timer 28th June 2019 @ 9:59 am 28th Jun 2019 @ 9:59 am mdi-comment Comments
Charles Moore Takes Question Time to Task on Balance

Guido was reminded of this research while watching Question Time last night – the research found that 86% of the time the panel was dominated by Remainers. Charles Moore pointed out that he was the only Leave voter on the panel, showing twice as many Remain voters appear on the programme than Leave voters. This won’t come as a surprise to many regular viewers…

The IEA’s analysis referenced by Moore also shows a two to one bias in favour Remain supporting panelists. Guido understands that it must be hard to balance the panel given that the media class and Parliament as a whole is so out of touch with the country on the question of Brexit, but surely it isn’t an impossible task…

mdi-timer 5th April 2019 @ 9:47 am 5th Apr 2019 @ 9:47 am mdi-comment Comments
Wonk Wars: The Rankings

ComRes have today revealed their rank bank of think tanks, assessing where the esteemed establishments rank among MPs of different parties. Their bi-annual survey of MPs has found that the Centre for Policy Studies and the Institute of Economic Affairs come out on top among Tory MPs, with 65% and 59% of Tory MPs respectively endorsing them for their ‘high quality output’. Free market ideas still rule the roost, despite the leanings of the current party leadership…

Additionally, 39% of Conservative MPs say the CPS is one of the most influential think tanks, with the IEA nearest on 35%. The Centre for Social Justice, Institute for Fiscal Studies and The Taxpayers’ Alliance follow closely behind to round out the top five. The CPS are by far the biggest climbers with a sizable 13% jump, testament to their recent star hires

Labour MPs liked the IPPR best, with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and IFS falling in behind. On an overall cross-party basis, the top five most influential wonks were the IFS (37%), followed by the JRF (30%), Chatham House (28%), the IEA (28%), and the CPS (24%).

Oddly, the Adam Smith Institute wasn’t included in the list for MPs to choose from, despite some big policy wins this year. Guido hears the CPS has sportingly called on ComRes to include the ASI next time round…

Read the report in full below:

Read More

mdi-timer 5th March 2019 @ 4:45 pm 5th Mar 2019 @ 4:45 pm mdi-comment Comments
BBC’s Think Tank Funding Hypocrisy

The BBC took film crews into the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Institute of Economic Affairs for a Politics Live feature today, ostensibly to help viewers “make their own judgements” about whether them making their donors public is “relevant” to their ability to take part in public debate. It quickly became clear that the BBC was more interested in portraying them as pantomime villains than letting viewers “make their own minds up”…

As the IEA’s Mark Littlewood pointed out, think tanks are far from the only organisations and institutions which frequently intervene in public debate yet do not publicly divulge their donors. Most of them in fact do so with far more clout – from Oxfam and Greenpeace to the CBI and the Corbynite Archbishop of Canterbury…

Greenpeace UK operates on a vast £21 million annual budget, the CBI on £24.5 million and Oxfam UK on a truly gargantuan £427 million, yet none of them provide fully detailed information about where their funding comes from, despite all of them having a huge influence on public debate. The IEA operates on a budget of just over £2 million and provides a clear breakdown of its income sources, even though it does not publish individual donors’ names.

This is not a case of “whataboutery”, it is a fundamental point about free speech and a balanced public debate in civil society. Attacking someone on the basis of who funds them rather than on the strength of their arguments is one of the most basic forms of ad hominem attack. Tellingly, these attacks are almost entirely one-way politically. They are almost exclusively led by the assorted cranks of the authoritarian left who are targeting those on the right as part of their broader war of attrition to purge public debate of dissenting views.

These attacks will not stop if think tanks reveal their funding. Their donors will hounded and subjected to the same sort of rabid abuse that think tanks’ staff members, particularly female ones like Chloe Westley and Kate Andrews, receive on a daily basis online, until they cave into the intimidation and withdraw their support. And Jo Coburn and other presenters will keep asking them questions on an ad hominem basis rather than engaging with the substance of their research. If a think tank has genuinely distorted their research due to outside influences, that will be evident from the flaws in the substance of the work they publish.

Faiza Shaheen, alongside Littlewood, claimed that her think tank, CLASS, was entirely transparent about its own funding arrangements. It is not. It lists its total income, as the IEA does, but it only names donors who have given over £1000, and even then it does not divulge how much each has donated. Every single named donor except one is a Trade Union.

When was the last time a single presenter challenged the integrity of Shaheen’s arguments on the basis that she is almost entirely funded by Trades Unions? When was the last time Jo Coburn herself was challenged over the fact that her career is dependent on the specific Government policy of extorting money out of taxpayers to pay her salary? They haven’t, as always it’s one rule for the right and another rule for everyone else…

UPDATE: James O’Brien has gone even further, openly admitting his entirely partisan motives in a recent interview.

mdi-timer 19th February 2019 @ 3:14 pm 19th Feb 2019 @ 3:14 pm mdi-comment Comments
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