A nonsense scandal in the UK

The Guardian reports:

A former board member of the Charity Commission, John Purkis, said the regulator should be worried that the IEA’s director told undercover investigators posing as US beef farmers that the IEA was “in the Brexit influencing game”.

Shock horror. A think-tank says it wants to influence public policy. Quick lock them up.

In footage recorded secretly on behalf of Greenpeace, the IEA’s director, Mark Littlewood, spoke to an undercover reporter posing as a representative of a potential US beef farming donor.

So Greenpeace has gone from fighting for the environment to fighting organisations that are pro-markets.

Littlewood told the would-be donors that a supposedly independent report on the future of agriculture, for which the IEA was seeking £42,500 in funding, would conclude that US beef should be allowed to be sold in the UK.

This is about as astonishing that a CTU report will call for more powers for unions or a Taxpayers Union report will call for lower taxes.

The IEA is a longstanding free market thinktank. It supports US beef being sold in the UK because it supports free trade – not because US beef farmers also want it.

It also exposed how in May the IEA arranged for real US donors with agricultural interests to have a private meeting at the IEA’s offices with Steve Baker, the then Brexit minister.

Shock horror, think tanks can arrange meetings with Ministers. So can non think tanks. So can just about anyone.

An IEA spokeswoman said it was confident it had acted in accordance with the charity regulations. She said: “We do not act in donors’ interests, except to the extent that they have an interest in pursuing free trade and free markets.” She added it makes “independent editorial decisions and then seeks funding … it is surely uncontroversial that the IEA’s principles coincide with the interests of our donors”.

Donors support organisations where their interests coincide. You’d hardly donate to an organisation you disagree with.

What a silly little attempted beatup.

Disclosure: I was went on a drunken boat cruise on the River Thames with a bunch of libertarians. I think the boat cruise was organised by the IEA. I wasn’t so drunk that I fell into the Thames, but was happy enough that I can’t recall for sure who was paying for the drinks.

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