* TALKING POINT, WITH ANNABEL DENHAM
* CHEERS TO OLD FRIENDS
* iN THE MEDIA
* THE LIFE OF BRIAN (MICKLETHWAIT)
* WE'RE HIRING!
* YOU'RE INVITED
The nation’s attention has been almost entirely devoted towards the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan this week, with other news sidelined by concerns over the Taliban’s conquest of Kabul and distressing images of citizens grasping onto US planes as they took to the skies.
I discussed the return of the Taliban on Times Radio ([link removed]) on Thursday evening, making the point that the US and Europe should offer entry and permanent resident status to a large number of Afghans. There is, in my view, an undeniable moral obligation to give sanctuary to those who worked with the coalition forces there. But there is also a case for opening our borders on a wider scale.
Away from failing leadership and finger wagging on foreign policy, there were a few labour market developments that are worth a mention. The think tank Autonomy has, predictably, called for a right to disconnect. The idea, also touted by Prospect last year and the Labour Party last month, might suit those who work in undynamic forms of employment, but it would threaten the flexibility that employers – and employees – now value. Having government dictate when you can or cannot open your laptop would undermine the, well, autonomy that many workers are seeking in the post-Covid era.
There was positive data from the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday, with the news that the UK’s labour market continues to "rebound robustly". The number of vacancies hit 953,000 in the three months to July, the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 per cent in the three months to June, and the annual growth in average pay was 7.4 per cent.
With my colleague Professor Len Shackleton, I outlined in an article for The Telegraph ([link removed]) why more employment regulation is the last thing the UK needs. Progressive idées fixes including the “right to switch off,” “right to hybrid working,” or “workers’ rights” may make for catchy soundbites, but there is no justification for government ministers exerting control over a matter that is between employer and employee.
On that note, I took part in the IEA’s new podcast series ([link removed]) , hosted by our Communications Assistant Kieran Neild-Ali, on Friday. We discussed the gender pay gap reporting measures – and the lessons it can teach not just the European Commission (which is seeking to implement similar legislation to that imposed in the UK in 2017) but this government as it flirts with the idea of mandatory ethnic pay gap reporting. They say if you don’t learn from history you are bound to repeat it. Such logic could be applied not just to regulation that burdens businesses but, importantly, international relations too.
Director of Communications, Institute of Economic Affairs
CHEERS TO OLD FRIENDS
Last Tuesday, we hosted 100 of our alumni from our summer and sixth form internships for drinks at our Westminster office. It was a chance for them to reconnect and, in some cases, meet face-to-face for the first time.
IEA Head of Education Dr Steve Davies and IEA Academic and Research Consultant Professor Syed Kamall gave speeches on networking, friendship, and how the past 18 months have highlighted the importance of in-person events.
Needless to say, we look forward to hosting similar events in future. You can find out more about our internship schemes on the IEA website here ([link removed]) .
iN THE MEDIA
Time to unpick the triple lock?...
On Tuesday, the ONS released its monthly UK labour market figures, showing a fall in unemployment and an 8.8 per cent average increase in wages in the three months to June.
Commenting on the data, IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop flagged that unless the triple lock is reformed, the rebound in wages will provide "an unintended windfall to pensioners that is increasingly hard to justify".
Julian's comments were featured across the press, including in the Daily Mail ([link removed]) , The ([link removed]) Guardian ([link removed]) , Independent ([link removed]) and Daily Express ([link removed]) .
Stamped out... Analysis by IEA Policy Analyst Alexander Hammond on house price inflation featured in the Sunday Express ([link removed]) last weekend.
Alexander argued that Stamp Duty makes purchasing a home more expensive, penalises people for moving house, and acts as a disincentive for older people to downsize. As Alexander and IEA Policy Advisor Sam Collins pointed out in their paper 20 Taxes to Axe ([link removed]) , Stamp Duty should be "removed in its entirety".
Unplugged... Last month, the Labour Party announced ambitions to reform the UK labour market with a 'new deal for workers,' including proposals to introduce French-style legislation to forbid employers from contacting employees out of working hours.
In her weekly column for The Spectator ([link removed]) , IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham argued that over-regulation of the UK’s labour market would likely backfire. For example, a mandated 'right to switch-off' could simply lead to employers expecting staff to "work nose to the grindstone during their contracted hours. No popping to the bank mid-morning, no surfing the web."
Writing for The Telegraph ([link removed]) , Annabel and IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton argued that the government should not attempt to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to workplace practices. They pointed out that "regulation is in effect a tax on jobs, the burden falling largely on workers in terms of reduced pay and employment opportunities rather than on company profits".
Zeroing in... Ahead of the COP26 conference later this year, IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon wrote on the government's Net Zero targets.
In a column for The Critic ([link removed]) , Christopher questioned whether the public will put up with the necessary financial and personal sacrifices they'll be asked – or forced – to accept to meet the pledges.
Up in smoke... In his column for City AM ([link removed]) , Christopher discusses the risks of vaccines, vaping and stop-smoking drug varenicline, and the contradictory ways in which they are treated by regulators and the World Health Organisation.
Christopher argues that the WHO is inconsistent in its approach to risk, and should apply a cost-benefit approach to vaping – which is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking cigarettes – as it does with pharmaceutical drugs.
Changing tack... The Office for National Statistics revealed last week that there were 4,651 drug-related deaths in England and Wales last year – the highest tally since records began in 1993 and 3.8 per cent higher than in 2019.
In her column for Conservative Home ([link removed]) , IEA Head of Media Emily Carver suggests that, rather than "cracking down" on middle class recreational use with expensive PR campaigns, the government should learn from international best practice.
THE LIFE OF BRIAN (MICKLETHWAIT)
Some of you will know Brian Micklethwait, who co-founded the Libertarian Alliance with Chris Tame. Sadly Brian has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Since several of us at the IEA have been inspired by Brian, we would like to invite you to celebrate ‘the life of Brian’ Micklethwait on the evening of from 6pm to 8pm at the Institute of Economic Affairs, .
In the meantime, please do email and/or phone Brian or even write about him to boost his morale. Brian is looking forward to his many friends and admirers joining him
Last chance to apply for two new positions in the IEA's development team! We're looking to recruit a Head of Foundations and Trusts to join our highly motivated fundraising team, responsible for building relations with private individuals, corporations, foundations and trusts.
We're also on the hunt for a new Donor Relations Officer, who will support the development team, researching individuals and companies, supporting publications and events, and maintaining our systems.
For more information on both roles, and to apply, click here ([link removed]) . The final deadline is today, Sunday 22nd August.
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.
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]) .
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
In this episode of The Swift Half with Snowdon, Christopher speaks to Dr Stuart Ritchie, a Scottish psychologist and science communicator known for his research in human intelligence. He has served as a lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London since the summer of 2018. They talk about the situation in Afghanistan, how we measure intelligence, as well as Covid and vaccine scepticism.
On the IEA podcast this week, IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham discussed her recent paper for EPICENTER on UK gender pay gap reporting with host IEA Communications and Marketing Assistant Kieran Neild-Ali.
They explored how we define the gender pay gap, how it is measured, whether complete pay equality between the sexes is possible, and what policies could help improve female pay. You can listen to the podcast here and read Annabel's paper Mind the Gap: pay transparency provisions in the EU here ([link removed]) .
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