Their talking head Kate Andrews insisted the IEA was an educational charity. LBC host James O’Brien was having none of it. Now we know he was right to be sceptical of the protestations: the Charity Commission has called time on this sham.
Kate Andrews: unconvincing propagandist
Better late than never: as today’s Observer has reported, “A rightwing thinktank has been ordered by the charities watchdog to take down a pro-Brexit report on Britain’s economic prospects after it leaves the EU. The report was hailed by Jacob Rees-Mogg as the alternative to Theresa May’s proposals”. Ordered to take it down.
And there was more. “The Charity Commission told the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to remove ‘Plan A+: Creating a prosperous post-Brexit UK’ from its website and stop promoting the report … A statement from the watchdog said the report had ‘overstepped the line of what is permissible charitable activity’”. Nice line in understatement there.
So what has the IEA said in response to this statement of the bleeding obvious? “The Charity Commission’s intervention prompted a robust response from the IEA which said it was ‘concerned’ about the decision, yet agreed to remove the report from its website and stop promoting its contents … ‘We believe it is increasingly unclear what charitable thinktank activity is acceptable, and what is not,’ said Neil Record, chairman of the IEA board of trustees, who also revealed it was looking at setting up a non-charitable arm”.
No, it’s not unclear. Educational charities do not take Big Tobacco’s money and then lobby against plain cigarette packaging. They don’t produce highly partisan propaganda, as the IEA has done with the Brexit debate. And they don’t claim to be doing rigorous economic analysis while producing economically illiterate drivel like the IEA’s 2013 hatchet job on the HS2 project (See Zelo Street’s analysis of this HERE).
Mark Littlewood: caught in the act
Nor do they employ an unrepentant rail-hater like Richard Wellings as their “transport expert”, who believes that the demand for freight capacity which would be released as part of the HS2 project can be provided by increasing the lorry weight limit and dumping it all on the existing motorway network. Or that converting a railway to a busway can increase its capacity, which as I pointed out at the time, you can’t.
So it’s no surprise that Ben Stewart, deputy director of Greenpeace, which caught IEA Director Mark Littlewood telling that he was in “the influencing game”, has commented “For too long the IEA has wanted to have all the benefits of being a charity without the responsibilities. It seems they wanted to have their cake and eat it … The Charity Commission has now told them they can’t. We await with great interest the commission’s report into our investigation”. That non-charitable arm may appear rather soon.
IEA "rail expert" Richard Wellings: economically illiterate
Perhaps now, the BBC and other broadcasters will call the IEA what it really is - another Astroturf lobby group, peddling hard-right flat-earth economics, wanting to make the poor yet poorer, make workplaces less safe, trash food standards, and abolish the NHS.
Then those broadcasters can get some properly knowledgeable pundits, instead of rent-a-quote propagandists and smear merchants like Kate Andrews. Time to face reality, IEA.
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