From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject March of the nanny state
Date May 16, 2021 8:00 AM
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* THINK 2021

This week saw the publication of the latest edition of the Nanny State Index ([link removed]) , a biennial league table of the best and worst places to eat, drink, vape and smoke in Europe. This year we increased the number of countries to 30. Our two new additions, Norway and Iceland, made an immediate impact, coming first and seventh respectively. It is a sign of how paternalistic Europe is getting that the UK slipped from fourth place to 12th.

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As British readers will be aware, this is not the result of any liberalisation in dear old Blighty, but rather that the government has frozen alcohol duty for a few years and resisted the urge to over-regulate e-cigarettes. That is enough for us to drop below the likes of Hungary, Finland and Estonia where the temperance lobby is on the march and vaping is under siege.

You might think that a genuine public health crisis like Covid-19 would make policymakers put the nanny state on the back-burner for a while. Not a bit of it. Boris Johnson’s idea of preparing for the next pandemic involves banning adverts for cheese and ice cream ([link removed]) , as this week’s Queen’s Speech confirmed. Aside from the shattering effect ([link removed]) that a TV watershed ban and a total online ban would have on food companies large and small, there are enormous practical problems with the proposals that will be impossible to resolve without some form of climbdown.

A hint of the trouble ahead came when the Mirror’s Dan Bloom reported ([link removed]) that Downing Street couldn’t say whether bakeries will be allowed an Instagram account when the online ban comes into effect. This is one anti-obesity policy that the public may find hard to swallow.

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Lifestyle issues also featured in my Swift Half with Snowdon ([link removed]) interview with snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday, which you can catch up on here ([link removed]) . Snooker was crippled by the ban on tobacco sponsorship twenty years ago, but got back on its feet thanks to betting firms who currently sponsor the majority of tournaments.

With rumours that the government could curtail gambling marketing in the near future, the game could be back to square one. Ronnie was optimistic about World Snooker finding new companies to plug the gap. I’m not so sure. ([link removed]) Snooker won’t be the only sport looking for new friends. Darts, football, rugby and others will also be in the hunt. Will there be enough advertising money to go round?

Christopher Snowdon
Head of Lifestyle Economics, Institute of Economic Affairs

This year's Nanny State Index revealed that governments are becoming increasingly paternalistic in the way they regulate the lifestyle choices of their citizens – and paints a grim picture of the tendency towards coercive paternalism on the continent.

To mark the launch of the Index, the IEA hosted a webinar with author Christopher Snowdon, IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics; EPICENTER Director Adam Bartha; Lasse Pipinen, CEO at Libera Foundation; Antonio O'Mullony, Researcher at Civismo; and Martin Gundinger, Senior Research Fellow at the Austrian Economics Center. You can watch here ([link removed]) .

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This year's Nanny State Index findings were written up in The Telegraph ([link removed]) . And Christopher wrote for CapX ([link removed]) on how 'nanny statists' are trampling freedom in Europe. Christopher questioned why we put up with this endless interference in our private lives, especially considering the most nannying countries do not have longer life expectancies, lower smoking rates, less obesity or fewer alcohol-related deaths than the ones at the bottom.

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Christopher also appeared on talkRadio to discuss the report's findings. You can watch a clip here ([link removed]) . And you can catch up on the webinar on our YouTube channel here ([link removed]) or watch our short explainer video here ([link removed]) .

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Queen's Speech... On Tuesday, the Queen set out the government's legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session. While there were some promising items, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood questioned whether the measures announced are likely to supercharge economic in either the short or medium term.

Mark's comments were featured in The Telegraph ([link removed]) where he warned against “cronyism” and bailouts for failing industries, after the government outlined plans to legislate on subsidy controls following the UK’s break with the EU’s state aid regime.

Mark noted that "the package of polices confirm that we will be relying on the private sector to drive the recovery, with these new government measures only having an effect around the edges – and generally a negative effect". You can read his response in full here ([link removed]) .

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IEA Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz was quoted in the Evening Standard ([link removed]) , responding to the proposed Planning Bill. While Kristian welcomed the need to liberalise planning laws, he warned that the bill could be another empty government promise if we continue to "allow a small number of well-housed, time-rich, anti-housing activists to shut down every development project they don’t like". Kristian's comments were also featured in Housing Today ([link removed]) , which you can also read in full here ([link removed]) .

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Kristian also wrote for CapX ([link removed]) on the need to "take on the NIMBYs" if we are to solve Britain's housing crisis. You can read his article here ([link removed]) .

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Nanny state madness... The Queen's Speech also revealed that the government is pressing ahead with a ban on so-called 'junk food' advertising on TV and online.

Christopher argued that the "terribly ill-considered policy" should be "binned", noting that it would severely curtail the freedom of businesses to communicate with their customers and would leave broadcasters out of pocket. His comments were featured in The Sun ([link removed]) and the Daily Mail ([link removed]) .

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Halt the stimulus... This week, IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop responded to the latest GDP and trade data published by the Office for National Statistics. The "encouraging" data, Julian said, shows the need to adjust policy; any additional stimulus – whether through government spending or money printing – is increasingly likely to distort the economy and fuel inflation, rather than boost growth.

In light of the promising economic news, Julian spoke to The Telegraph ([link removed]) about how the UK has defied some of the more gloomy post-Brexit predictions on trade. Julian argued that "people were far too pessimistic about the magnitude of the hit. The idea that there was going to be a seismic fall in trade after Brexit was always rubbish. Companies adapt."

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Off the tracks... HS2 was back in the news this week, following reports that the eastern branch connecting Leeds to London could be axed. IEA Deputy Research Director and Head of Transport Dr Richard Wellings noted that this eastern leg of Phase 2 is "the weakest element of this heavily loss-making line" and that it is "a grotesque waste of taxpayers' money", especially considering the rise in homeworking and virtual meetings. His comments, which you can read in full here ([link removed]) , were featured in The Telegraph ([link removed]) .

Thank you to all of our supporters who have already signed up to become an IEA Online Patron. Becoming a Patron grants you VIP access to our latest videos, priority invites to our virtual events, and the opportunity to engage directly with IEA Director General Mark Littlewood and the IEA team. For just a small donation you can get all these benefits and more.

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The IEA’s Patreon page serves as a membership platform, allowing our followers to become Online Patrons, and support and donate towards our digital content. This gives our supporters and followers the opportunity directly to help the IEA continue to produce stimulating and educational online content.

All income from this service goes to supporting the costs of the IEA’s digital work and online content. Alongside this, our Online Patrons have access to exclusive IEA perks, bespoke benefits, priority access to our content, and much much more.

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To visit the page and find out more about the IEA’s Patreon, follow the link here ([link removed]) or watch our trailer here ([link removed]) .
THINK 2021

We are thrilled to announce our fifth guest speaker for the THINK conference this year: Bill Easterly, Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute.

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THINK 2021 will take place on Saturday, 12th June and is free to attend on Zoom – you can register here ([link removed]) .

For more information, please visit ([link removed]) or email the IEA's Education, Outreach, and Programmes Manager Brittany Davis at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . We hope you can join us!

*Live with Littlewood

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On this week's episode of Live with Littlewood, Mark was joined by Terry Kibbe, Chief Executive Officer at Free the People; Michael Carnuccio, President and CEO of the E Foundation for Oklahoma; Calvin Robinson, political adviser and columnist; Dr Kristian Niemietz, IEA Head of Political Economy; and Zoe Strimpel, Columnist at The Sunday Telegraph.

The panel discussed the seismic shift in voter behaviour in both the UK and the US, examined whether the Prime Minister's levelling-up strategy is likely to be a success, and gave a free market analysis of the Queen's Speech. You can catch up on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

*School of Thought with Professor Christian Bjørnskov

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This week, the IEA posted our latest episode of School of Thought – our discussion series based on the book ‘101 Great Liberal Thinkers’ by Dr Eamonn Butler.

IEA Acting Academic and Research Director Professor Syed Kamall spoke to Professor Christian Bjørnskov, Professor at the Department of Economics and Business Economics at Aahrus University, about the life and work of two economists - Gordon Tullock and James Buchanan. You can watch on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

*IEA Webinar: Who Regulates The Regulators? The Financial Ombudsman Service

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How do we regulate businesses in such a way that we don’t add cost and risk, thereby hurting poorest consumers? How has the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) performed by reference to what it was established for in 2000?

IEA Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer hosted a discussion with Victoria Hewson, Head of Regulatory Affairs at the IEA and author of IEA report 'Who Regulates the Regulators? The Financial Ombudsman Service' ([link removed]) ; Paul Smith, CEO of the Morses Club; and Eric Leenders, Managing Director, Personal Finance at UK Finance. The panel discussed the future of the FOS, and what free market approaches to dispute resolution for consumers might look like.

You can watch the webinar here ([link removed]) and read Victoria's publication here ([link removed]) .


*Exclusive IEA Book Club Webinar with Mustafa Akyol: Reopening Muslim Minds

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The IEA is delighted to host Mustafa Akyol, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and opinion writer for The New York Times, for a private IEA Book Club webinar on his latest book "Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance". The book both examines "the crisis of Islam" in the modern world and offers a way forward.

The webinar will take place from 6-7pm on Monday 17^th May and will be chaired by IEA Acting Academic and Research Director Syed Kamall.

This event is exclusive to IEA Book Club members. For more information, follow the link here ([link removed]) or contact us directly at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

*IATP Webinar: Africa’s Free Trading Future – Launch of the Initiative for African Trade and Prosperity

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To mark the launch of the new IEA and Vinson Centre project, the Initiative for African Trade and Prosperity, we will host a webinar at 6pm on Wednesday 19th May. It will be chaired by IATP Director Alexander Hammond, with guests and esteemed members of the initiative’s advisory board Douglas Carswell, President and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Franklin Cudjoe, Founder and CEO of the MANI Centre for Policy and Education and Ibrahim Anoba, Editor at ([link removed]) .

As well as introducing the new initiative, the webinar will explore the current state of free trade in Africa, examine whether the new free trade area will really revolutionise the continent’s economy, and discuss what role the Initiative for African Trade and Prosperity can play in helping to liberalise trade in the region. Further details here ([link removed]) .

*In Conversation with the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP

On Monday 24th May, from 6-7pm, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood will be joined by Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, Conservative Member of Parliament for North Somerset, for the latest in our In Conversation series with senior figures in public life.

Dr Fox has been the Member of Parliament for North Somerset since 2021 and has held numerous ministerial positions, including Secretary of State for International Trade under Prime Minister Theresa May. In 2020, the UK government nominated Dr Fox as a candidate for Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which saw him reach the last five in the election.

The event will be live-streamed on the IEA Youtube channel here ([link removed]) .

*MA in Political Economy by Research

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The IEA is working with the Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham on the delivery of an MA in Political Economy by Research.

The programme can be completed by distance learning and is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in the history of economic ideas and the application of economics to questions of public policy.

Online seminars will cover topics on Adam Smith; David Ricardo; John Stuart Mill; Alfred Marshall; the marginalists and neoclassical economics; Karl Marx; Friedrich Hayek and the Austrians; J.M. Keynes; James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock and public choice theory; the Frankfurt School; and behavioural economics.

For further information, please follow the link here ([link removed]) .


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