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Friday 7 February 2014

IEA Lobbying Report – Another Turkey

[Update at end of post]

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), another of those Astroturf lobby groups peddling a generally right-wing point of view, and credited by Andrew Marr, no less, as “undoubtedly the most influential think tank in modern British history”, is attempting to extend that influence via the publication of a report (read it HERE) titled The Sock Doctrine, on the subject of lobbying.
New research from the IEA finds that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being spent by state-funded charities to lobby and campaign for political action in the UK and the EU” says the introductory blurb. Those who have looked in on Zelo Street over the years may at this point have experienced a sense of déjà vu: we have been here before, but not with the IEA.

Back in 2009, the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) published a paper calledTaxpayer Funded Lobbying And Campaigning”, authored by its humourless former CEO Matthew Sinclair. The Labour Government was giving lobbyists money just so they could duly lobby it, or so it was claimed. But Mick Fealty at the Slugger O’Toole blog soon shot that one apart and labelled it a “Dodgy Dossier.

How did he reach that conclusion? The organisations that got the money had, among their skill sets, lobbying. The TPA therefore made the (unproven) assertion that the money had been spent on lobbying. But no example was given showing this to be the case. Sinclair contributed to the comments thread but did not convince. And it appears that the IEA has been doing something similar.

Here’s a sample: “On 8 May 2013, Balance North East and Fresh (North East) - the former a neo-temperance group and the latter an anti-smoking group - were awarded £2.8 million from local authorities to be spent over two years. Neither organisation is involved in health provision, but both have the primary purpose of campaigning for legislation”. What was the money paid for? We are not told. The IEA doesn’t know.

On top of that, this supposedly peer-reviewed paper leans heavily on work by Brussels based New Direction, which, by the happiest of coincidences, has a similar political orientation to the IEA, and appears to base its conclusions on “estimates”. That’s rather like the TPA and their false assumption. But the pass is sold in style when a Maily Telegraph article is quoted as if it were fact.

This is followed by “It has also been reported by Andrew Gilligan that the European Commission has actively funded organisations that lobby for statutory regulation of the press”. That is, and there is no other way of putting this, a straight-A “f*** right off” offence. Quoting Mr Transcription Error automatically invalidates any peer-reviewed study. The IEA has brought forth another dead parrot.

Still, good to see this rubbish is as easy to dismantle as ever. No change there.

[UPDATE 8 February 1530 hours: as if to underscore my analysis, James "saviour of Western civilisation" Delingpole has taken the IEA's "report" as if it were fact, and used it to play the victim, telling how nobody on his side of the fence gets any financial support from anyone at all, and as a consequence it's just not fair.

Del Boy also sells the pass in no style at all when he cites as authoritative a study co-authored by one Thomas DiLorenzo. We've all got the ability to do five minutes' Googling Del, and DiLorenzo has been roundly pilloried for his quack studies and books.

So that's another reason to put the IEA work in the bin. Thanks Del]

1 comment:

Andy McDonald said...

I seem to recall a bit in one of Michael Dobbs's Farncis Urquhart books, where a rival is smeared in the press as "making regular financial contributions to left wing causes". Turns out it meant he paid his student union subs when at Oxford. Possibly what's going on here?