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…

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The Charity Commission has sheepishly withdrawn the warning it had issued to the Institute of Economic Affairs in February after accepting that their initial response was disproportionate.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“We can confirm that the Official Warning against IEA has been withdrawn with immediate effect.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 In light of steps the charity has taken since the breach was brought to its attention, we have now withdrawn that warning.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.”

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…

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:

Continue reading

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.

Double Standards of the Charity Commission

Today the Charity Commission proudly published a slap-down of the Institute of Economic Affairs for having the temerity to produce recommendations for how the Government should deliver Brexit. By publishing ‘Plan A+’, the Charity Commission argues that the IEA has been insufficiently balanced.

“educational charities must ensure that their research reports present balanced and neutral information allowing the reader to make up his or her own mind about the issue explored”

But where was the “official warning” for the left wing charity the Institute of Public Policy Research, run by Ed Miliband’s former spin doctor, which in 2017 produced not dissimilar document called The Shared Market proposing a left wing route out of the EU, tying the UK into EU regulatory structures. As a ‘proposed agreement’ this was entirely analogous to the IEA plan…

“The proposed agreement outlined in this briefing would be a distinct way forward for the UK and the EU27.”

What about the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which in 2015 gave £30,000 to Compass, a left-wing membership organisation affiliated to the Labour Party. It also donated £85,000 to “Corporate Watch” who have published books including advocacy of government boycott of the Jewish state, along with “Capitalism, what is it and how can we destroy it?” Very charitable… 

Where is the investigation into the charity ‘Hope Not Hate’, who have received £90,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and are campaigning against Brexit with Gina Miller’s radical campaign group ‘Best for Britain.’ They have openly stated that:

“We believe that a hard Brexit is being used by the radical right, inside and outside the Conservative Party, to dramatically change British society – and change it for the worse.”

How is this very balanced and educational?

UPDATE: The IEA has put out a formal response to the Charity Commission:

“The Institute of Economic Affairs is disappointed that the Charity Commission has issued us with an official warning for the publication and launch of a trade paper in September 2018.

“The IEA is considering a range of options, as we believe this warning has extremely widespread and worrying implications for the whole of the think tank and educational charity sector.

“A precedent is being set: research papers – and their launches – which put forward policy proposals may now fall outside the parameters of what the Charity Commission considers acceptable activity.

“We will be working with the Charity Commission to address these points. Earlier this year, we asked a number of questions of the Commission relating to these regulatory matters and have yet to receive a response. We look forward to receiving such a response shortly to help inform our future activity.”

Mad Academics Call for Whole World to Eat Only 1/10th of a Sausage Per Day

A group of deranged dieticians have done their best to cut through the Brexit noise by publishing a tyrannical new diet that is so extreme that people have had no choice but to pay attention. In order to ridicule it…

Incredibly, the farcical proposal has been launched in the medical profession’s most prestigious scientific journal, The Lancet. If so-called “experts” want to understand why the public so often fail to take them seriously, their answer is right here…

Their bonkers plan insists that people cut their daily intakes to:

  • No more than seven grams of pork a day (about 1/10th of a sausage).
  • No more than seven grams of beef or lamb a day.
  • No more than 29 grams of chicken a day (one and a half nuggets).
  • No more than 28 grams of fish a day (a quarter of a fillet).
  • No more than one and a half eggs per week (under a quarter of an egg a day).
  • No more than one quarter of a baked potato.

The “panel of experts” are calling for the entire world to indulge their lunacy, even though predictably none of the nonsensical nutritionists are actually following the diet themselves. The Lancet’s Charlatan-in-Chief Dr Richard Horton admitted “I’m close, but I have two eggs for breakfast every morning, so I’m already having too many eggs.” That’s not “close”, that’s a staggering NINE times his daily acceptable intake of eggs. Some people just want to watch the world burn…

Back on Planet Earth, the IEA’s Chris Snowdon has produced an excellent series of cookery videos to explore the fantastic culinary opportunities that await us under the new regime. Bon Appetit!

Revealed: Who Funds the Institute of Economic Affairs

There is currently a concerted campaign by a coalition of left-wing groups, green zealots, remainers and left-wing journalists to delegitimise right-of-centre campaigns and think tanks. Any right-of-centre voice is to be shouted down. It is a tribute to the effectiveness of the Institute of Economic Affairs that they are currently the primary target.

It is a fact of life that people in the private sector prefer to be in the private sector and tick the ‘no publicity’ box. Who can blame them? They would otherwise be on the receiving end of pretty nasty campaigns, potential commercial boycotts and the unwelcome attention of social media’s resident idiots. Look at the ‘class war’ harassment of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s children, or just some of the horrendous replies to tweets by the IEA’s Kate Andrews, the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s Chloe Westley, the Adam Smith Institute’s Sophie Jarvis, or the CPS’s Ems Barr whenever they appear on TV. Why would you volunteer for that abuse?

Right-of-centre organisations tend in consequence to be less transparent about their funding, allowing those who donate to make decisions regarding their own privacy. The charitable trusts and foundations that fund them do generally allow their support to be publicised, businesses and individuals often prefer not. That is not an ideal state of affairs. It lets the left paint them as funded by scary sounding “dark money”, rather than generous civic minded individuals who just prefer to remain anonymous in the circumstances. The IEA is trying to go some way to answering the question as to who funds them by breaking it down into categories. Full marks for rebutting allegations of “dark money” with a dark infographic bordering on trolling…

If it helps set the ball rolling, Guido would like to answer the question of “Who funds the IEA?” by saying that, in a very tiny way, he does. Other donors should be proud to say they do as well…

Mogg: Green Belt is a Corset

Speaking last night at the IEA’s £50,000 Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony, Jacob Rees Mogg launched a blistering attack on the green belt, describing it as a “corset” that restricts “our housing market to breathe by at least 25%.” For an MP whose seat is largely green belt land to say this shows that one of Britain’s sacred political cows might be beginning to become a bit less sacred.

The prize was won by Ben Clements, who proposed a Land Purchase Act – a market-based policy that centres on how swathes of public land can be made available for people to build homes according to their own choice and preference. Individuals building houses on the bits of the green belt that are state-owned seems preferable to corporations building unimaginative estates. It is also an easier political sell to NIMBYs…

BBC Climbdown Over Criticism of IEA’s Brexit Plan

Remainers were leaping on an article by Newsnight policy editor Chris Cook earlier this week which claimed that the Institute of Economic Affairs had fluffed their calculations for their alternative Brexit ‘PlanA+’. Cook attempted to replicate Shanker Singham’s models but found himself unable to do so, concluding that the IEA “need to do their homework”.

Today it turned out that it was Cook who needed to do a bit more homework, as he admitted that he had belatedly managed to replicate Singham’s results after finding mistakes in his own coding:

Remainers haven’t been sharing the correction quite as vigorously. Will Cook be apologising to the IEA?

UPDATE: The IEA have issued a searing response to Chris Cook alongside a detailed rebuttal of his points.

UPDATE II: Chris Cook has issued an apology to the IEA and taken his article down off the BBC’s website.

Boris Backs IEA’s Alternative Brexit Plan

Boris has given his backing to the IEA’s alternative Brexit plan launched this morning, telling Channel 4 News that it is a “very good piece of work” which “shows the flaws with Chequers” and deals with some of the “difficult questions” around the Irish border.

Brexiteers have been on the back foot since Chequers because of the accusation that they did not have a credible alternative. Now they believe they do…

UPDATE: Boris tweets…

In Full: Alternative Brexit Plan

Brexiteers have released their much-vaunted alternative Brexit plan this morning. Dubbed “Plan A+”, the plan attempts to set out a viable alternative to Chequers and respond to the common critiques of a Canada+ model.

The paper is written by Shanker Singham and Radomir Tylecote of the IEA and will be launched later this morning by a panel including David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Read for yourself here…

Police Investigating IEA Burglary

Earlier reports that the police were “raiding” the venerable Institute of Economic Affairs turned out to be over-excited. No arrests have been made. The police are investigating a burglary…

IEA Staff Changes

Wonk world transfer news: the Institute of Economic Affairs is making some staff changes. Nerissa Chesterfield is being promoted to the role of Head of Comms from the role as Comms Officer following Steph Lis moving to work for Dominic Raab. Nerissa previously worked at Vote Leave and Business for Britain. Kate Andrews has been appointed as the IEA’s Associate Director, overseeing communications, digital outreach, public affairs, and the FREER initiative. Kate has served as News Editor of the IEA for the past two and a half years.  Big promotion for 28 year-old Kate Andrews…

Euroman Mayer to IEA

Andy Mayer is joining the senior management at the Institute of Economic Affairs as Chief Operating Officer. Andy joins the IEA after 7 years doing public affairs for BASF plc. What will confuse remainiac conspiracy theorists even more is that Andy previously worked for the European Movement, voted Remain and is a former LibDem activist. Evidence of his hard commitment to the EU can be seen in these decades old pictures…

BBC: 13 Nobel Laureate Writers Have ‘Limited Expertise’ Gaffe

Newsnight’s Chris Cook comparing the IFS, Kings Fund and the Institute for Government accused the Institute of Economic Affairs of being in a category of think tank that was “more likely to employ and publish people with more limited expertise.”

Let’s check out that ‘limited experience’…

  • Published 13 Nobel Laureates.
  • Research team includes 7 PhDs and 2 Professors.
  • Books and briefings that in the past year alone have been translated 23 times.
  • Credited with changing the approach to monetary management to defeat inflation.

Can BBC Newsnight boast anything close to that quality?

Cook praised the young Institute for Government, which is an establishment packed, civil service friendly talking shop which may have some interesting output but has no plans to shake up the world. It is the latest political play thing for billionaire centrist Lord Sainsbury of Turville, who previously has funded such outfits as the Social Market Foundation and Progress. Guido has searched in vain for one single nobel prize winning writer on their books…

IEA Unveils New Star Signings

Guido can reveal two big new hires for the Institute of Economic Affairs. Congratulations to rising star Darren Grimes, the Brexit hero who set up the successful BeLeave campaign before writing for BrexitCentral. Darren was in much demand, is one of the most effective right-leaning millennials on Twitter and is a very astute hire for the IEA as their new Digital Manager.

The IEA has also appointed Jon Moynihan to its board. The venture capitalist was another important Brexit figure, who chaired the Vote Leave Finance Committee and was the first chair of its Campaign Committee. Carole Cadwalladr could get a whole flowchart out of these two…

Stella v Kate Andrews on Gender Pay

This Sky debate between Stella Creasy and the IEA’s Kate Andrews, and the ensuing Twitter spat, is quite something. Kate noted that conflating equal pay with the gender pay gap is problematic, and criticised the attempt to piggyback on the #MeToo campaign. Stella did not take it well, wrongly demanding Kate apologise for “misquoting” the ONS:

Kate responded, proving her own claims and debunking Stella’s:

With no meaningful comeback, Stella instead blocked Kate, going on to tweet that she had been “brainwashed” and, bizarrely, that Kate had mocked her disability (she hadn’t). As anyone who has ever interacted with Stella on Twitter knows, she really doesn’t like being proved wrong…

Shanker Shocker as Legatum’s Brexit Team Transfers to IEA

Shanker Singham has resigned from the Legatum Institute as Director of Economic Policy and is taking his three-strong team with him from Mayfair to Westminster to join the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). This is the wonk-land equivalent of Manchester City signing Manchester United’s top strikers…

Guido sources say Shanker resigned on Wednesday and the board of the IEA agreed to take him and his team pretty swiftly. The IEA is creating a new International Trade and Competition Unit for Shanker’s team, bringing with him lawyer Victoria Hewson; economist Catherine McBride; and research analyst Dr Radomir Tylecote. The three – who have a wealth of experience from the legal, technology, business and think tank worlds – will take up their roles later this month. Shanker’s team are widely recognised as the top Brexit wonks outside government.

The IEA’s Mark Littlewood tells Guido:

“I have huge admiration for the work Shanker and his team have done at the Legatum Institute. Under Philippa Stroud’s leadership, Legatum have gone from strength to strength, becoming thought leaders in crucial policy areas of which trade is only one. I look forward to continuing our strong relationship with them, and to Shanker and his team continuing their work at the IEA.”

Shanker Singham says: “We look forward to being a resource to all who need us in the trade, competition and regulatory policy space.” It is fair to say that the philanthropists who back Legatum were extremely uncomfortable with the critical political attention that the polarising Brexit work was bringing them and that this was distracting from their greater philanthropic endeavours on other issues.  At the IEA Shanker will be at liberty to engage with the Westminster debate and key players more directly…

IEA’s Kate Andrews Schools Alan Johnson and Anna Soubry on Swiss Health System

As Alan Johnson and Anna Soubry blindly defended the NHS despite being confronted with dire statistics on its health outcomes, Kate Andrews of the Institute of Economic Affairs made a compelling case for reform on This Week.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Boris as Hulk…

‘Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them. Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country. We will come out on October 31 and we will get it done.’

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.