We know all about the Institute of Economic Affairs in Scotland

In the Guardian today:

The Institute of Economic Affairs has lost a two-year battle with LBC radio presenter James O’Brien over claims the registered charity is a politically motivated lobbying organisation funded by “dark money”.

The IEA complained to media regulator Ofcom that the radio station had made a series of inaccurate and unfair suggestions that the organisation is a professional lobby group of “questionable provenance, with dubious ideas and validity” staffed by people who are not proper experts on their topic.


There is no mention of the IEA’s activity with regard to the campaign for Scottish independence but they have featured many times and notably since 2014, working to undermine the case with fake information.

In 2014 they suggested:

There are many unknowns on matters like currency, North Sea oil, national debt, EU membership and so on, but one consequence of a Scottish yes vote is certain: Other things equal, in order to maintain the current standard of healthcare, the Scottish tax burden would have to rise considerably. In 2006, per capita healthcare spending in Scotland was almost £300 p.a. above English levels, a gap which can only have increased in the meantime. After a secession, the bill for this extra spending could no longer be sent to London; it would have to be fully paid out of Scottish taxes.


In 2016, they argued:

Scotland’s First Minister is now trying to take Scotland out of the UK because more Scottish people voted to remain in the EU than they did to leave – but there is something very wrong about this. A two-million-people majority voted in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 to go the same way as the UK. These votes are not simply wiped out by the fact that Scotland, like many constituent parts of the UK, did not on their own vote for Brexit.


Good Morning Scotland made a case for failure in Scotland’s minimum pricing of alcohol strategy based on their selective calculations:

Good Morning Scotland allows disreputable alcohol-funded lobbyists to undermine SNP minimum pricing policy

They are alcohol-industry-funded but GMS did not mention this.


In April 2020, the Herald’s Tom Gordon used their arguments to attack the First Minister’s support for Universal Basic Income:

Likeminded? Herald’s Tom Gordonstoun and IEA’s Kate Andrews

In 2019, I wrote at greater length on the IEA:

As the IEA gets a doing today, remember Reporting Scotland’s fondness for such ‘independent’ think-tanks in 2014?


On BBC Politics Live today, Mark Little, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs looked as if he might burst a blood vessel as their interviewer pushed him to reveal who funds the IEA. They showed secret film of him boasting of his access to politicians and evidence of donations from the extreme right in the USA. Another two men representing The Taxpayer’s Alliance and the Academy of Ideas promptly went beetroot-red too. Hiding something gentlemen?


It’s worth a watch: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0002p7k/politics-live-19022019

As I watched, my mind returned to 2014 when Reporting Scotland made regular use of research reports of variable reliability often from ‘independent’ thinktanks, to undermine the case for Scottish independence. In the year from 17th September 2012 to 18th September 2013, they used such sources to attack independence 22 times while only reporting 4 times on research favourable to it.


Then in the four months before UK General Election of 2015, they used such reports to undermine the case for independence 36 times with none supporting it.

To find where the IEA stands on Scottish independence requires no great research expertise. From their own site:

Scottish independence and the sterling-zone controversy

Healthcare in Scotland: Careful what you wish for, ‘Yes’ campaigners

Against subsidised home rule: Why Scotland should pay for its own healthcare

In further evidence of their impartiality, the previous DG of the IEA, John Blundell, campaigned for the privatisation of Scottish water and predicted the death of Scottish farming in the EU:



To finish, here’s Mark in 2014 on how the English model for health provision could improve things in Scotland:

‘Allowing complete freedom of choice and empowering people to choose private commissioners and providers will promote competition across the health sector. This will see hospitals, as well as GP surgeries and commissioning groups, competing to look after the health care of all Britons, as their livelihood will depend on it.’

The IEA’s paper argued that the health services in Scotland have suffered as a result of not introducing the type of market reforms pioneered by Labour in England.


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5 thoughts on “We know all about the Institute of Economic Affairs in Scotland

  1. Yes John , but apart from the squillions of times they have shown bias against the idea of Scottish Independence on GMS and Misreporting Scotland , the fact that they twist and misrepresent Scottish facts/figures in a negative way , the fact that they are secretly and anonymously funded , probably by Dark Money , do you really think that they are not nice , cuddly people with Scotland’s best interests at heart ?
    No , me neither !

    Liked by 8 people

  2. @ ‘in 1916 they argued’?

    A two million majority did not vote to go the same way as the rest of the UK in Scotland. In 2014. More lies. The majority was a lot less. 400,000? If 200,000 had voted YES. Independence would have been won. The Reman in the UK lied. The unionists lied. Said NO would ensure remaining in the EU. etc. Now Brexit. The VOW, The gerrymandering, lie after lie. The manipulation of the electorate. Lie after lie, after lie. Even more lies which have been found out. Putting up the Indy cause and support. It is just a matter of time. To have another winning Indy vote.

    IEA are just total liars, illegally funded. Brexiteers broke the Law. They gerrymandered and acted illegally. Illegal donations. They broke the data protection Laws. The used Facebook etc illegally. They were fined but should have been put in jail. The corrupted the electoral system for personal gain. The Hedge Funds made £Billions on the process.

    They did the same in the Indy Ref. Totally illegally broke Purdah rules etc. Westminster unionist Parties are totally corrupt. Cameron made £7million on corruption, along with the rest. Hammond now implicated in fraud. They make the Law and break the Law with impunity.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great piece of journalism John.

    BBC Radio Scotland interviewees this morning

    (With apologies to any English readers . . . . Following is not anti English. . . It’s about the BBC’s choices in Scotland)

    Scotland’s Children’s Commisionar (Australian)

    Then on Further Education access . . . Englishgent who works in England with little knowledge of Scotland’s education system

    Followed by discussion on Climate change in Highlands. English lady.

    Next up motor vehicles and climate change Representative of car industry English Gent.

    Monday interview with a happy “clubber” who had just been back into a night club in Scotland . . . English male

    Xenophobic or what?

    After the Children’s Commissionar the broadcaster had a choice between Scots or English voices.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. No offence taken, Clydebuilt.

      It’d be different if it was an article on R4.

      In fact, I agree with you! Although, I’d ascribe it less as xenophobic and more as pig ignorant…

      Liked by 2 people

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