Following the decision by the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance not to contest the claim for unfair dismissal by whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, therefore sparing themselves a court appearance and all the questions about their funding sources that would inevitably be raised, others from what he termed “nine linked right-wing groups operating from 55 Tufton Street … who co-operate to pursue a common … agenda” have come under examination.
Next call is from Kate, first time caller from somewhere not in the UK ...
One of these is the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), which has been protesting long and loud that it is not a lobby group, but an educational charity, despite the recent exposé of IEA director Mark Littlewood by Greenpeace, discussing what looked like lobbying.
So it should have surprised no-one when LBC host James O’Brien called them out this morning. “The laughably misnamed 'Institute of Economic Affairs', part of the nexus of foreign-funded, hard right lobbyists at 55 Tufton Street, today 'reports' that warnings about the impact of no deal Brexit on ports have been 'exaggerated'. No mention of who paid for the ‘research’”. IEA talking head Kate Andrews was not happy about that.
“Hey James. No part of the IEA is located at 55 Tufton Street. We are a registered educational charity (No CC 235 351), not a lobbying group. I appreciate you don't like our mission or what we stand for, but please be accurate. Your tweet is factually wrong & should be corrected”. You’re biased! You’re wrong! Retract!
O’Brien wasn’t retracting. “It’s ‘based’ around the corner and is part of the nexus. We both understand this. You’re pretending not to. My tweet’s quite clear. You lobby & you boast about providing access to ministers while seeking donations. Jog on”. Ouch!
What say Ms Andrews? “It is a totally separate organisation, founded decades earlier, that operates independently of any other like-minded group based elsewhere in Westminster. And I have never done anything of the sort. You are factually wrong here. Your politics are clouding the facts. Not cool”. You’re getting political! And we aren’t! Honestly!
O’Brien presented as evidence an extract from what Shahmir Sanni’s lawyers, Bindmans, said after the TPA climbdown: ”This pretty much covers it. Now, who pays your wages?”
Back came Ms Andrews. “You cannot implicate the IEA in someone else’s legal case. We have never had a legal case put forward to us regarding this matter. The BBC saw fit to update when this was called to their attention. Keep up James”. She’s not read what Bindmans have said, has she? “In conceding Mr Sanni’s Claims, the Taxpayers’ Alliance is admitting liability for the unlawful actions of the Nine Entities”. Including the IEA.
This O’Brien pointed out. “It’s a court document. The BBC reported your denials. Now, who pays your wages?” Ms Andrews was beginning to lose it. “It's a court document about a third party, that conceded a tribunal but did not accept claims. *Nothing to do with IEA* -, never involved in this lawsuit. But you are smart, you understand this, but you peddle bile anyway. Your misleading tactics are really quite awful”.
Sadly, the IEA had its wrongdoing admitted by the TPA. So she should be addressing her concerns to them. And O’Brien is not misleading, nor is he attempting to mislead. But he is asking “Who pays your wages, Kate?” And did so once more.
At which point she lost is completely. “I believe in the right of association and the right to privacy. If we have different views on those rights, fine. But no one deserves a fraction of the abuse and threats my colleagues and I get, because we believe in free markets and free people. Would never expose others to it”. It’s not a question of having different views on rights. Nor is any abuse involved. Nor does this have anything to do with the fig-leaf that the IEA is about free markets, rather than right-wing propaganda.
As Zelo Street pointed out recently, the idea that the IEA is about “free people” is for the birds. But it is, as I showed back in 2014, about (for instance) the grubby business of taking Big Tobacco’s money to argue against plain packaging for cigarettes. Littlewood told those who took part in the Greenpeace sting that he was in “the Brexit influencing game”.
The IEA is also in favour of abolishing the NHS, which Ms Andrews has in the past described as a “false God”. On the basis of those items, I’d say James O’Brien is erring on the mild side in his criticism. And that Kate Andrews is well and truly bust.
If it walks like a lobby group, quacks like a lobby group, and looks like a lobby group, there is a strong possibility that it really is a lobby group. I’ll just leave that one there.
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