Master Cole’s proclamation was thankfully brief. “RESIGNATION HONOURS REVEALED: Liz Truss to make four new members of the House of Lords - despite serving for just 49 days … New peers … IEA boss Mark Littlewood … Brexit boss Matthew Elliott”. That’s an embarrassing name. The same name as the supremo of Vote Leave, which broke electoral law, in fact.
Which is because it’s the same person. Elliott, co-founder of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, an Astroturf lobby group that has peddled falsehood and misinformation to those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet for many years now, headed Vote Leave, the “official” Leave campaign, in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum. And don’t forget, they broke the law.
The lawbreaking was confirmed in July 2018. As the Guardian told readers, “Vote Leave … broke election spending law, the Electoral Commission said this morning. The commission has imposed fines on Vote Leave and on Darren Grimes, the founder of BeLeave, another leave campaign, which the commission says was spending money on behalf of Vote Leave”.
The propaganda thus facilitated included the claim that Turkey was joining the EU, and therefore “76 million Muslim Turks” were potentially on their way to the UK. It wasn’t, and they weren’t. It was also claimed that Turkey joining the EU would mean the UK would then share a border with Iraq and Syria. The level of lying was off the scale. And Elliott was the head man.
Where Elliott was in charge of an organisation that broke the law, Mark Littlewood was merely indulging in spivvery. He asserted that plain packaging of cigarettes was “the latest ludicrous move in the unending, ceaseless, bullying war against those who choose to produce and consume tobacco”, but failed to mention donations to the IEA from Big Tobacco.
George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian, did mention it. “British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International have been funding the institute [the IEA] – in BAT's case since 1963. British American Tobacco has admitted that it gave the institute £20,000 last year and that it's ‘planning to increase our contribution in 2013 and 2014’”. And it got worse.
What benefit could this confer on the funder? “The IEA chief was also recorded suggesting potential US donors could fund and shape ‘substantial content’ of research commissioned by the thinktank and that its findings would always support the argument for free-trade deals”. Do go on.
“This could hugely benefit US farmers by lifting the ban on the sale in the UK of beef from cattle treated with growth hormones and chlorine-washed chicken”. Oh goody. The IEA has also urged abolition of the NHS. After all, what’s a few tens of thousands of medical fee bankruptcies a year, eh?
Neither Elliott, nor Littlewood, should be allowed in the Lords. That is all.