From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject Having your say
Date July 18, 2021 8:00 AM
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When I was growing up, the restrictions on free speech which were still prevalent in the 1950s were gradually being removed. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which barrister Mervyn Griffith-Jones famously didn’t want his wife or servants to read, was allowed to be published in England for the first time. The Lord Chamberlain’s role in theatre censorship, a source of great amusement to playwright Joe Orton, was abolished. Kenneth Tynan swore on TV. People took their clothes off in films. And, despite Mrs Mary Whitehouse’s best efforts, the blasphemy laws fell into abeyance.

Maybe all this went too far. The Paedophile Information Exchange was able openly to advocate sex with children in the 1970s. The crude remarks about women and ethnic minorities in some popular TV comedy shows of the 70s and 80s now look embarrassing at best, and seriously damaging at worst.

So a reaction was probably inevitable. But have we gone too far in the opposite direction? This is the issue we grapple with in Having Your Say: Threats to Free Speech in the 21st Century ([link removed]) , the new book I have edited for the IEA.

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We can point to the way in which recent legal constraints on free speech are now generating over 100,000 alleged 'hate crimes' each year, mainly for fairly harmless unpleasantness. We can note the effective re-banning of 'blasphemy' in the demonstrations against a teacher showing a cartoon of Mohammad. And, of course, the repeated Twitterstorms of abuse against people who are prepared to speak outside the parameters of wokedom. These self-righteous outbursts have real consequences, with people losing jobs and livelihoods.

Our book covers such topics as free speech in universities, in advertising, in comedy, and in social media. We examine the history of hate laws, the role of trade unions, the issue of religious freedoms and many other topics. One of our authors conducts a forensic examination of the growing fear of giving ‘offence’.

It’s definitely worth a read.

Some might question if the IEA is straying outside its normal concern with the economy. Not so: the IEA’s mission has always been to increase understanding of the institutions of a free society. The ability to speak freely is just as important an institution as free trade, free enterprise and the security of property. You will be hearing more from many of us on this.

Professor Len Shackleton
Editorial and Research Fellow, Institute of Economic Affairs

As Len mentions above, the IEA recently published Having Your Say: Threats to Free Speech in the 21st Century ([link removed]) .

In the new book, a variety of academics, philosophers, comedians and more stress the fundamental importance of free speech – one of the cornerstones of classical liberalism. And they provide informed and incisive insights on this worrying trend.

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Over the course of the summer, the IEA will be posting interviews with the book's various authors on our YouTube channel ([link removed]) . Already, Len has hosted a recording with Leo Kearse on free speech in comedy, which you can watch here ([link removed]) .

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Leo also wrote on his experiences as an "uncloseted right-wing comedian" for Spiked Online ([link removed]) , while fellow Having Your Say contributor and Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln Nick Cowen set out the conclusions of his chapter in an article for CapX ([link removed]) .

Nick writes that "often the difference between a supposed extremist and mainstream political actor is about who they are rather than what they say". What is seen as 'extremism' one minute, he points out, can become a perfectly mainstream opinion the next.

It has been a tough week for those of us who believe the state should roll back rather than steam ahead with its quest for control over what we put in our bodies.

On Wednesday, Parliament voted on the so-called 'junk food' advertising ban, which has been tacked onto another piece of legislation, the Health and Care Bill. As IEA staff have flagged repeatedly, one issue has always been that there is no official definition of the term 'junk food'.

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The government's solution? For the Secretary of State to ban the advertising (on TV before 9pm and online around the clock) of any food they deem to be "less healthy". In a short clip ([link removed]) , our Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon warned that MPs were being "forced to vote for a pig in a poke".

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And on Thursday, the second part of the National Food Strategy, authored by "food tsar" Henry Dimbleby, was published. Christopher responded that "once again, rich people want to clobber ordinary people with stealth taxes, this time on sugar and salt. By Mr Dimbleby’s own admission, this cash grab will cost consumers £3bn, but independent analysis suggests it will cost even more".

His comments were covered in the Daily Mail ([link removed]) , City AM ([link removed]) , the Daily Express ([link removed]) and The Telegraph ([link removed]) .

Christopher told Good Morning Britain that salt and sugar taxes tend not to change people's habits: "they will stick with foods they like and make sacrifices in other areas of the household budget". Watch a clip here ([link removed]) . He also appeared on Times Radio ([link removed]) , TalkRADIO, LBC, Channel 5 News and GB News to discuss the Strategy.

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In an article for The Spectator ([link removed]) , Christopher questioned whether it's an indication of how much this country has lost its mind that these ideas were not immediately laughed out of the room. He wrote:

"At the core of these proposals is the bizarre and demonstrably false belief that 'junk food' is cheap and 'healthy' food is expensive.

"There is a reason why vegetables have been the staple food of the world’s poor for most of human history and that is because they are cheap. Thanks to the wonders of the agricultural revolution and globalisation, they are now cheaper than ever. Supermarkets virtually give the stuff away. You can pick up a big bag of carrots for 40p and get a bunch of bananas for 60p."

Read the piece in full here ([link removed]) .

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Wake up call... Referencing the new IEA paper Left Turn Ahea ([link removed]) d? ([link removed]) , which surveyed the attitudes of young people towards socialism and capitalism, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood wrote his Times column on the need for major businesses to make a "clear, emphatic and unapologetic case for free markets".

In doing so, firms could help reverse the "drift in public attitudes" towards greater state intervention in our lives. The trouble is, Mark said, they appear to lack both the "foresight and courage" to attempt such an exercise. Read the piece in full here ([link removed]) .

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Win-win?... Responding to Boris Johnson's "levelling up" speech on Thursday, in which the Prime Minister assured the public that this wasn't a "jam-spreading exercise," Mark Littlewood told TalkRADIO that we're still scratching our heads trying to decipher what the catchphrase means.

And when asked about stimulating growth across the nation as we emerge from the crisis, Mark pointed out that while it may take a decade to pay back the costs of the pandemic, we can deregulate the economy now. Watch here ([link removed]) (from 2:06:00).

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Boom or bust... In her column for The Spectator ([link removed]-) , IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham asked: Could the azzuri's triumph last Sunday lead to a spike in births for a nation with one of Europe’s lowest fertility rates?

Rather than divine whether there is any truth to the apocalyptic headlines of a Covid-led birth crash in the developed world, however, Annabel suggested we ask what governments can – or should – do to boost fertility rates. She warned that, after spending a century emancipating and educating women, we should be wary of "attempts to convert them back into baby machines". Read the piece in full here ([link removed]-) .

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Lives and livelihoods... Does work does have an intrinsic moral value? Professor Philip Booth, IEA Fellow and Director of the Vinson Centre at the University of Buckingham was a witness on BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze this week, which explored the future of work.

He said: "By doing work we can serve others, benefit from socialisation and cooperation, and earn an income to look after ourselves and our families... Work is essential and extremely valuable".

Listen here ([link removed]) .

Watering down freedom... Speaking to Mike Graham on TalkRADIO on Tuesday, Annabel Denham questioned whether businesses or the wider public will notice any discernible changes after 19 July. She warned that reversing the "irreversible" would further erode trust in our leaders.

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The next threat?... The jump in inflation to 2.5 per cent in June is "yet another warning to the Bank of England that policy is now too loose," said IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop after the ONS Consumer Price Index data was released on Wednesday.

He added: "The Monetary Policy Committee has already conceded that inflation is likely to exceed 3 per cent later this year, but is banking on this being temporary. This looks increasingly complacent."

Julian's comments can be read in full here ([link removed]) . He was quoted in The Independent here ([link removed]) . You can read the IEA's 2020 paper Inflation: The next threat? here ([link removed]) .

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10 days of solitude... Pressure is building for urgent changes to the NHS Covid app after the number of people being told to quarantine shot up to 520,000 last week. Responding to the news, Julian Jessop said:

"The economic hit from the 'pingdemic' is unlikely to be large; for example, 500,000 people is less than 2 per cent of the total UK labour force. Nonetheless, the loss of both staff and customers will be very disruptive for some businesses and might delay the return of overall GDP to pre-pandemic levels by a few months."

Julian appeared on GB News to discuss the short vs longer-term economic consequences of the ping-demic, and whether furlough should be unwound at the end of September. You can read his comments here ([link removed]) .

*Live with Littlewood – The season finale

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In the last episode of Live with Littlewood before the summer, host and IEA Director General Mark Littlewood was joined by a stellar cast of guests, including: IEA Head of Education Dr Steve Davies; Comedian and Columnist Dominic Frisby; TalkRADIO Presenter Mike Graham; Reaction Contributor Tim Montgomerie; Times Science Editor Tom Whipple; and CIEO Founder Joanna Williams.

The show kicked off with a discussion on whether freedom really will be coming home tomorrow, with Mike pointing out that ours is a government "led by public opinion". Steve added that our leaders "don't know what good they're in politics to achieve, other than remaining in office".

The panel also looked beyond our shores to how other nations are handling the pandemic. Will Emmanuel Macron introduce mandatory vaccines? What lessons might we learn from Taiwan? And ending on an upbeat note, they debated which threats to humanity may lurk around the corner – from antibiotic resistance to cyber security and inter-generational warfare.

Catch up here ([link removed]) .

*Non-hate crime incidents – with Sarah Phillimore

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In this episode of Parallax Views, IEA Head of Cultural Affairs Marc Glendening sits down with barrister Sarah Phillimore to discuss the impact of non-crime hate incidents, the way the police handle them from Sarah's own experience, and their overall impact on free speech.

Parallax Views is a new series of YouTube conversations exploring the 'Culture Wars'. The talks cover issues relating to free speech, 'hate crime’, the political realignment, the ideologies driving cancel culture and the demand for greater state control over civil society. Watch here ([link removed]) .

*Are young people more socialist?

In the latest episode of the IEA podcast series, IEA Communications and Marketing Assistant Kieran Neild-Ali talks to IEA Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz about his latest paper, Left turn ahead ([link removed]) ? ([link removed]) , which includes polling that suggests younger people hold negative attitudes towards capitalism and favour socialist alternatives.

Kristian argued for radical reform of the planning system to win back young people and address their concerns with unaffordable housing. Listen here ([link removed]) . Kristian also took part in a YouTube interview asking whether Britain is "destined for socialism" with Reasoned, which you can catch up on here ([link removed]) .

*THINK: The political realignment

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We have recently uploaded a fascinating recording from this year's THINK conference. In this discussion on the political realignment, Dr Steve Davies is joined by Kate Andrews, Economics Correspondent at The Spectator; Lisi Christofferson, Head of Research and Strategy in London for C|T Group; and David Goodhart, author, journalist and think tanker. Watch here ([link removed]) .

*Made in China

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A new book from author, commentator and journalist Jasper Becker explores what we know, and still don’t know, about the origins of Covid-19, and how it was handled in China. In a recent IEA Book Club event, Jasper talked to Dr Steve Davies about the themes in Made in China, including the Wuhan lab leak theory. The fascinating discussion is now available on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

This event was exclusive to IEA Book Club members. To find out more about the Book Club please contact us directly at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]?subject=Book%20Club)

*Markets and Morality: Should we own our own personal data?

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As the internet becomes an ever more intrinsic part of our lives, there is growing concern about how much information we give away every day and some people argue we should have more ownership over our data – but is it something we own and, if so, can we choose to sell it?

In the newest Markets & Morality, premiering today at 9.30am, IEA Head of Public Affairs Emma Revell speaks to our Head of Regulatory Affairs Victoria Hewson and tech journalist and Daily Telegraph columnist Andrew Orlowski. In the episode, Emma asks: Should we own our personal data? Watch on the IEA London YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

Thank you to all of you 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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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]) .

*Dorian Fisher Memorial Prize

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The deadline to enter this year's Dorian Fisher Essay Memorial Prize is Friday 30th July. The competition is open to all A-Level and IB students, with the chance of winning a first prize of £500, and £250 each for three runners-up. The top 20 entries will also all be invited to a special one-day event at the IEA in the autumn term.

The prize for this competition is named after Dorian Fisher, the wife of Sir Antony Fisher, founder of the IEA, who was a long-time supporter of the Institute and its work. You can find out more details on the IEA website here ([link removed]) . If you would like to enter, please send you entry to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) , clearly stating your name and school.

*Economics Thought Leaders Symposium (ETLS)

Applications are open to attend this year's Economics Thought Leaders Symposium. ELTS is an annual three-day residential symposium, jointly hosted by The Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham and the Institute of Economic Affairs. Senior undergraduates and postgraduates are invited to apply and, for those offered a place, it is entirely free to attend – there is no charge for accommodation, food or materials.

The theme for this year’s unique and exciting programme is the Future of Economic Thinking.

There are just 16 places available on this exclusive programme. To apply please send a CV (no more than two pages) and cover letter explaining why you would like to attend (250 words) and 500 words on which economic thinker you would erect a statue for to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . The deadline for applications is 30th July 2021.
*In Conversation with Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP
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On Monday, 2nd August from 6-7pm, the IEA will host the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Conservative Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North, for the latest in our In Conversation series with senior figures in public life. The event will be chaired by IEA Director General Mark Littlewood.

Penny Mordant is currently part of the Treasury team as Paymaster General. She has previously served as Secretary of State for Defence, Secretary of State for International Development, and Minister for Women and Equalities, and is a Royal Naval Reservist.

She is also the author of a new book Greater: Britain after the storm ([link removed]) which she will be discussing during the event. It is available to purchase here ([link removed]) .

The discussion 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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