John Blundell R.I.P.

With the passing yesterday of John Blundell, the movement for freedom and economic liberty on both sides of the Atlantic has lost one of its leading figures. John was for many years at the centre of that movement of people, institutions and ideas that promoted economic freedom. He leaves behind a legacy of organisations that he played an important part in building and also leaves behind lives that he touched and changed. He is best known here as the IEA’s long-serving Director General between 1993 and 2009 but he was deeply involved with many institutions and movements both in the UK and in the US and beyond.

John Blundell was born in Congleton in Cheshire on 9 October 1952. He attended King’s School Macclesfield and went on to study economics at the LSE. He was part of the generation of young libertarian and free-market oriented Conservatives who came on the scene at that time, including many who went on to careers in politics and public policy. In 1977 he was hired to head up the Parliamentary and Press Liaison office at the Federation of Small Businesses and made the organisation much more prominent and effective than it had been before. The following year he was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth, at that time controlled by a hard-left faction within the local Labour Party led by Ted Knight.

In 1982 he moved to the United States and soon became an active figure in classical liberal (as opposed to conservative) organisations over there. In particular he came into contact with the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), an educational organisation founded in the early 1960s by F. A. ‘Baldy’ Harper. He also became involved with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which Antony Fisher, the founder of the IEA, had set up in 1981 to act as a support for other think tanks and as an agency to create and support free-market think tanks around the world. This was the point where John’s particular combination of skills and qualities became apparent and it became clear that he had found his métier. In 1987 he became President of Atlas and the following year he became president of the IHS. At both institutions he presided over a period of dynamic growth and innovation; this was most noticeable at IHS where there was an expansion of existing programmes and the introduction of new ones.

In 1991 John moved from Atlas and IHS to become President of the Charles Koch and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, where he played a very important part in the development of a systematic programme of targeted and goal driven philanthropy, not least in the direction of support and development to high-quality young scholars. Over the years these grants have supported a whole generation of people who have gone on to successful and productive careers in academia, the media and public policy and this is undoubtedly one of his most important legacies.

In 1992 he returned to the UK as the Director General of the IEA, taking up post in January 1993. When he arrived, the IEA was a troubled ship with disagreement about its direction and identity and there were serious concerns for its future. John steadied the ship and reaffirmed the historic core purpose and mission of the IEA: that is to affect the climate of opinion in the long term by producing high quality research and publications that influenced the creators of public opinion (academics, journalists, and writers). He had always been a strong advocate of this and had, long before becoming Director General, been highly critical of arguments that the IEA should become more involved in actual policy formation and day-to-day politics. He wrote a number of pieces on how to effectively wage a ‘war of ideas’, which were collected and published by the IEA under the title Waging the War of Ideas in 2003. In 2009 he stepped down as Director General and returned to the US where he continued to be active as a speaker and author, most notably in his Ladies For Liberty: Women Who Made a Difference in American History.

John had a particular combination of qualities that made him an effective and important figure in the history of the freedom movement on both sides of the Atlantic. An excellent public speaker and lecturer, he was also a clear writer, producing a full length life of Margaret Thatcher and the aforementioned book on libertarian women and their contribution to the cause of liberty. He was a highly effective networker and brought together many people who would otherwise never have known each other. He was also a very effective fundraiser but he combined this with a very clear vision of how to use funds and donations to obtain a long-term impact. In contrast to too many people who think of fundraising and other activism simply as a way to support a current short-term campaign, John was a great institution builder who was always looking to convert current donations into something long term that would have a lasting impact. This could involve institutions, programmes and also talented individuals: there are many people all over the world now who owe much to his support and his identification of them as a cause worth investing in. John’s success in the area of institution and programme building can be seen in the number of institutions that he helped to develop or played a part in founding, including the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, the Buckeye Institute, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Fraser Institute, the Institute of Economic Studies, the Institute for Justice, and (through the Institute Development and Relations Committee of Atlas) many think tanks in various parts of the world.

John will also be remembered by those who knew him for his sense of humour, including truly terrible jokes that he liked to tell, and his penchant for practical jokes. This made it all the more entertaining when the tables were turned and he became the butt of one himself, as happened on one famous occasion while he was at IHS. He was not one for suffering fools gladly but was a warm friend and supporter. He was, throughout the years, part of an effective double team with his wife Christine, who worked with him at IHS and the IEA. He is survived by Christine and their two sons, James and Miles.

The comments facility is open for personal tributes to John.

Head of Education

Dr Steve Davies is the IEA's Senior Education Fellow. Previously he was program officer at the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) at George Mason University in Virginia. He joined IHS from the UK where he was Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and Economic History at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. A historian, he graduated from St Andrews University in Scotland in 1976 and gained his PhD from the same institution in 1984. He has authored several books, including Empiricism and History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) and was co-editor with Nigel Ashford of The Dictionary of Conservative and Libertarian Thought (Routledge, 1991).

64 thoughts on “John Blundell R.I.P.”

  1. Posted 23/07/2014 at 12:28 | Permalink

    I’m shocked by this sad news. I remember John as one of the most generous people I have known. His home was always open, and he did so many small, personal kindnesses for which I will always be grateful. We have lost a good friend.

  2. Posted 23/07/2014 at 13:04 | Permalink

    I am truly saddened. I worked for John for five years at IHS, 1985 through 1990, which were very important years for me. I was also privileged to publish him several times in The Freeman. He will be missed.

  3. Posted 23/07/2014 at 13:07 | Permalink

    John was an amazing man whose family opened up their homes to me both in the US and the UK, over many years, and although the years pass quickly between visits and gatherings, I have always held them as very close to me. I am saddened for the loss of John, and hope that Christine, Miles, and James find comfort in the amazing life he lived, and the legacy that he has left behind. My thoughts are with them all.

  4. Posted 23/07/2014 at 13:54 | Permalink

    John employed me at the IEA 12 years ago. He was tremendously insightful and always allowed me to get on with the job whilst making helpful suggestions (which he would not push as he valued the separation between our roles). He transformed the IEA after he joined and gave it a new lease of life, opening many doors that enabled his work to continue and flourish after he left. He hosted a superb MPS meeting in 2002 – it is easy to forget how absorbing it is to run a week-long international conference for 600 people. He always encouraged youngsters. He also took full responsibility for his employees as a manager. Some managers try to blame their mistakes on others in order not to lose face with those above them (I have certainly seen that in organisations I won’t name). John would do the opposite. If a mistake was made or there was a problem of another sort, it was his problem too. That is an important virtue. Rest in peace, John and I hope that Christine and his other family keep well.

  5. Posted 23/07/2014 at 14:23 | Permalink

    John was an extraordinary person who could have turned his talent in any direction and been successful. We are fortunate that he chose to spend his all-too-short time on earth “at the centre of that movement of people, institutions, and ideas that promoted economic freedom.”

  6. Posted 23/07/2014 at 14:29 | Permalink

    I was deeply saddened to hear the news of John’s passing. I have known him since 2001 in his role as a Board Member at the Atlas Network. He was not only a valuable part of Atlas and a tremendous support to me during my time there, but he introduced me to new ideas and some of the most fascinating and influential people, including Margaret Thatcher in 2002.

    From books, op-eds, and speaking engagements to small group conversations over beers and blue cheese cheeseburgers, he was dedicated to spreading the ideas of liberty to everyone that he met.

    His contributions to the freedom movement, his dedication to cultivating young leaders and his warm hospitality will be missed.

    My prayers go out to Christine and the boys.

    RIP, John.


  7. Posted 23/07/2014 at 14:45 | Permalink

    Its no exaggeration to state that those with respect for ideas that drive economic and personal freedom should feel this loss. I was introduced to John during a short visit as a fellow in a UK university in 2006 and had a couple of meetings in his office. Nobody has explained to me more clearly think tanks should naturally benefit from supporting freedom and in my primary responsibility leading a think tank in Kenya, I recall always the few points that he emphasized on why freedom is important for person and society.RIP.

  8. Posted 23/07/2014 at 14:45 | Permalink

    My deepest condolences to Christine and the family of John Blundell. I first met John in 1984 in Palo Alto, CA when I was an IHS summer fellow. I don’t think I saw him again until 2003 at an MPS dinner, but he warmly remembered me and a few years later he and Christine kindly gave me scarce office space at the IEA on my sabbatical in London. I recall that he was always reading – always. He would be pouring over his newspaper at lunch or even during academic presentations when he would suddenly look up, make an incisive comment, and then bury his head again in his paper. Quite the multi-tasker!

    We who cherish freedom have lost a friend and a tireless and irreplaceable leader. May he now rest in peace.

  9. Posted 23/07/2014 at 17:48 | Permalink

    Very sad news. I met John and Christine in 2005 when I moved to London to pursue a PhD at LSE and greatly enjoyed the company and support of the “effective double team” during my time there.

    My condolences to Christine and family.
    Rest in peace, John.

  10. Posted 23/07/2014 at 18:33 | Permalink

    This is very sad news indeed and I agree with all that have talked about John’s personal kindness as well as his considerable talents as a leader. My condolences to Christine and the boys. John will be deeply missed by many who owe in large and small ways their careers to his tireless efforts.

  11. Posted 23/07/2014 at 19:17 | Permalink

    Steve, that’s a very nice tribute. I was almost exactly the same age as John and grew up with him politically and professionally. His passing is a real shock. His work changed the lives of many people, particularly young people, many of whom went on to become real champions of liberty. I am so sad at this news.

  12. Posted 23/07/2014 at 19:56 | Permalink

    What a tragic loss. Our hearts go out to Christine, Miles, and James.

    This obituary is a beautifully written tribute to John–but then just listing his many leadership posts is impressive in itself.

    Rick (my husband, Richard Stroup) and I saw John at meetings over the years and always enjoyed those occasions when we could spend time with him and Christine. Amazingly, the Blundells stopped by Raleigh a matter of weeks ago–and we enjoyed a good chat. He was thinner but he didn’t let us know how sick he was.

    Not long before that, John had noticed that I am on the IEA’s Advisory Council. He asked me if I had been doing anything for IEA (I hadn’t been ) and recounted a story about James Buchanan who was once on such a council without even knowing it. A day later, Philip Booth wrote me and asked if I would like to review an upcoming IEA book! Thoughtful and constructive acts like that were part and parcel of John’s life.

    We will miss him sorely, and maintaining liberty will be a greater challenge without him.

  13. Posted 23/07/2014 at 20:03 | Permalink
  14. Posted 23/07/2014 at 20:06 | Permalink

    So sad to hear of John’s passing. I last saw him at a panel debate in NY last year, the first time for several years, and he was still as sharp and insightful as ever. A good man with great vision, he will be sorely missed. My condolences to his family and all at the IEA.

  15. Posted 23/07/2014 at 20:20 | Permalink

    I am still trying to recover when I read the news about his demise. Very sad indeed… I have read his books long before I have first met John in person, at a conference of the Mont Pelerin Society many years ago. I also cannot forget every time he wore his lucky vest at our conferences, such a rich personality. My deepest condolences to his family. It is a huge loss for us freedom fighters! R.I.P. John.

  16. Posted 23/07/2014 at 20:25 | Permalink

    It is a very sad day. I wrote to John at the IEA just after he took over in 1993 to seek advice
    on how to start my PhD, given my lack of resources. I was a 22 year old he’d never heard of, but he took the time to write back and invited me to come down from Wigan for a Hobart Lunch. If it hadn’t been for the warmth of that reception and the support he offered, putting me in touch with the IHS among other things, I don’t know whether I would ever have started my PhD. I will always remember that generosity of spirit, and all of the support both he and Christine have given me over the years. Thank-you John.

  17. Posted 23/07/2014 at 21:28 | Permalink

    This is sad and shocking news. John employed me at the IEA in 2004 shortly after I left a fixed-term lectureship at Queen Mary, University of London. That appointment gave me the space to reflect on whether I wanted to return to academia, as well as a crash course in applied political economy and access to an international network of classical liberal scholars and politicos – including such figures as Margaret Thatcher, her Chancellors Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson, and Gordon Tullock (with whom John, Christine, Anna the receptionist and I had a memorable Japanese meal one evening). Running the IEA at that time, during the high years of the Blair-Brown administrations, was not an easy task, but John made the IEA a truly unique and memorable place to work. RIP.

  18. Posted 23/07/2014 at 21:57 | Permalink

    My formal introduction to the scholarship of classical liberalism came in the form of an intellectually stimulating and adventurous summer I spent at IHS as a summer research fellow. John was presiding over the Institute at that time, and it was such a pleasure to get to know John and Chris. When I moved to England for several months in 1992-93 to conduct research for my doctoral dissertation, John and Chris graciously hosted me in their home and in many other ways provided me a sense of having a homebase in London. Through introduction and suggestion I had the pleasure of spending the evening of the 1992 U.S. Presidential election with the great folks at the Adam Smith Institute, where they even had (non-Jim Beam) bourbon in the liquor closet. I also got to hear Digby Anderson speak one evening standing on a chair at a packed and smoky meeting of FOREST–the Freedom Organization for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (which I was amused to find today still exists). These fun memories will always be associated in my mind as benefits of my friendship with John. Moreso, I will long carry memories of hours spent in conversations with John at various meetings and conferences where our paths crossed, for he was a memorable conversationalist, an inveterate educator for liberty, and I will sorely miss those little enjoyable reunions. Until…

  19. Posted 23/07/2014 at 22:02 | Permalink

    Like so many, I was shocked and saddened to learn of John’s death. I first met him in 1974 at the Austrian Economics conference, in South Royalton, Vermont. I believe he was the youngest person attending the event. He demonstrated leadership in many organizations over the years, and helped advance liberty all around the world. He was always a wonderful host when I was in London, and set up programs for me there. My wife and I will miss his friendship, and our thoughts are with Christine.

  20. Posted 23/07/2014 at 22:19 | Permalink

    I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of John’s death. I first met
    John in 1995, when I was invited to attend a Philosophy of Liberty study
    group at the IEA. Since then, the IEA has been a valued part of my life:
    John made a real difference, and will be missed. My sincere condolences to
    Christine and the family.

  21. Posted 23/07/2014 at 23:58 | Permalink

    I had the pleasure of meeting John when he was the president of the Institute for Humane Studies. He and Christine were very helpful to me in my efforts to build libertarian student organizations on college campuses in the U.S. In particular, he was very helpful to me in my capacity as president of Students for Individual Liberty at the University of Virginia.

    John was truly a scholar and a gentleman, and the world is much the poorer in his absence. Allow me to offer my best wishes to Christine and the family.

  22. Posted 24/07/2014 at 04:44 | Permalink

    John was an English gentleman and passionate lover of liberty whose company, wisdom, and friendship are sorely missed. Like so many, I benefited from the generosity of John and Christine, as a guest in their London home and in more ways than I could enumerate. He helped so many people in so many ways and many were never aware of it. The impact of his life will continue to ripple out for hundreds of years to come. Christine, Miles, and James have the deepest sympathy of more people than they can know.

  23. Posted 24/07/2014 at 07:53 | Permalink

    John and Christine have always been good to me, and I owe them a great deal. I regret how little I’ve seen of them in late year. In 2013 I had the pleasure of working with John on his wonderful piece on Rose Director Friedman, in Econ Journal Watch, it is a variant on the chapter is Ladies For Liberty. John had a sense about liberty that seemed to sail above doctrinal squabbles.

  24. Posted 24/07/2014 at 07:58 | Permalink

    What terrible news. I worked with John at the IEA; he was also responsible in large part for the funding of my PhD. Like many here, I admired enormously his kindness, geniality, energy and wholehearted commitment to liberty. Did he ever take even a moment off from trying to make the connections that would promote the ideas that mattered so much to him? I doubt it. Along with the wonderful Christine (what a perfect team) John really did open doors for so many of us. I hope he knew what a difference he made. Thinking back on his generosity of spirit (Mark Pennington’s phrase above gets it absolutely right) I am reminded more than anything of the words of Walter Mildmay: “I have set an acorn, which when it becomes an oak, God alone knows what will be the fruit thereof”. John’s legacy will be with us, I am sure, for decades if not centuries to come. RIP.

  25. Posted 24/07/2014 at 09:55 | Permalink

    John was a tremendous help to me when I started at the IEA in 2009. He was incredibly patient in sharing with me the huge stack of knowledge and contacts he had built up over his decades of work in the liberty movement. A very sad time for lovers of freedom and thoughts go out to Christine, James and Miles.

  26. Posted 24/07/2014 at 10:54 | Permalink

    It’s hard to say anything more than hasn’t already been said, but let me add a few personal points. I first met John at a conference at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in the USA in 1981. As far as I can tell, it’s about as far as you can get in the US from Australia. Beautiful campus and a wonderful experience. But there was something else. John and I got up in the middle of the night, perhaps early morning, to watch the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana on a pretty poor black and white TV. Nobody else was mad enough and anyway, we were only two of four or five that thought it might be interesting and worth watching for whatever reason and made the effort. Actually, back then I was probably some sort of republican, but I’ve changed my mind since.

    20 years later, In September 2001, the meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society was held in Bratislava, Slovakia. Both of us liked the occasional game of golf, so, during the conference, we decided to play every golf course in the country. And we did. Well, there was only one. The date was September 11. That was a week to remember for reasons other than golf.

    John was a generous friend and wonderful host whenever I was in London, but also in the US when he was there. It’s hard to think that he’s gone at such a young age. I’m losing too many of my friends. I must be getting older. Freedom has lost one of its more substantial advocates.

    Jenny and I were rocked by the news and our love and thoughts go to Christine and to Miles and James.

  27. Posted 24/07/2014 at 11:30 | Permalink

    This is very sad news. I have known John since he arrived at the IEA. Given the changes of the last few years it is easy to forget the impact of John’s arrival – a generational change after the days of Arthur and Ralph. The IEA became a much livelier place and many of John’s innovations have become taken for granted – such as the work with young people (which Christine greatly aided and Steve and his team have built on). I had no idea John was ill, I’m afraid, even though I had corresponded quite a bit with him in the last few months about his excellent recent review article on Margaret Thatcher in February’s Economic Affairs, and also about an article on the professionalisation of cricket which he proposed writing with me. None of the contributors above have mentioned John’s interest in sport. Nor have they mentioned his encyclopaedic knowedge of West Lancashire, where his family came from, and where various placenames (‘Ince Blundell’ for example) attest to the long connection with the area. I shared these interests, and every time we met John would be asking me about the fortunes of Southport FC, whose tribulations he recalled from his earlier days. The IEA is now a much slicker and more visible operation than in Johns time, but it is solidly built on the work which he developed and nurtured over many years. It is also a friendly place, as it was so very much on John’s watch.

  28. Posted 24/07/2014 at 14:36 | Permalink

    I fondly recall JB’s boundless energy and enthusiasm as he, myself, Bob L, and a fourteen years or so Miles (must have been late 90s), put together a six foot or so square crate of IEA books to be shipped off to a university in Cuba at the behest of a donor. I often wonder what effect all those Hayek-Friedman-Buchanan-Tullock etc Hobarts had upon arrival. We also sent a stack of copies of the ‘Market for Animal Semen’ (or as the wag spouse of someone who will read this post once explained, the book about the virtues of the Invisible hand-j**’

  29. Posted 24/07/2014 at 15:17 | Permalink

    I remember John talking about the books. A cubic metre of books for Cuba apparently.

  30. Posted 24/07/2014 at 17:29 | Permalink

    I was deeply saddened by John’s death and would like to show another side of his life. I suppose that I am one of his oldest friends as he always introduced me as his babysitter on my visits to the IEA. My parents lived in Congleton next to John’s and I babysat him when I was on vacation from university. Alice and James were great friends with my parents and after my father’s death took care of my mother and myself. They were always active in the interests of the town and St Peter’s church..

    James took a special interest in heraldry and was noted for his work in this field. I edited his manuscript on the heraldry in St Peter’s church, Congleton and John generously paid for the publication of this book which is a notable addition to the history of the town. He spoke of his father and his interest in Congleton at a reception held in the Congleton Museum on the publication of the book.

    John often returned to the town and to Macclesfield where he had attended the King’s School. There will be many people in both towns who will remember him and his family. Recently he wrote an article for the Conglton Chronicle recalling his memories of the town.

    I cannot believe that his life has been so cut short and I send love and sympathy to Christine, Miles and James

  31. Posted 24/07/2014 at 17:56 | Permalink

    What sad and shocking news. John was always supportive of young classical liberals. As a PhD student in the early 1990s, I was impressed and flattered by how much time he and Christine were prepared to give to discuss ideas or new projects.
    When I was first elected, he wasted no time in inviting me to speak at an IEA event then rebuked me for not having seen me at 2 Lord North Street for years!

  32. Posted 24/07/2014 at 22:53 | Permalink

    When I first knew John, he had very long hair and looked like a young left-winger of the 60s, straight out of the LSE. We were all fighting against the Heath Government, but John had the advantage of demonstrating that to be ‘libertarian’ did not mean looking ‘respectable’ or ‘conventional’. In politics, these small things matter. People like John really made a difference at a time when to be in favour of free enterprise, markets, and individual freedom was much more difficult than it is today. Richard

  33. Posted 25/07/2014 at 01:58 | Permalink

    We have lost a man who taught effectiveness by his work, who made amazing things happen but rarely enjoyed being known for his victories, who could be tender when he was tough, and who never gave in. He did all of this while consistently pushing for growth of the free society. Liberty has lost so much. That said, we’ve also lost a truly unique personality…quirky, lovely, ironic, keen. Many of us, myself particularly, own JB so much.

  34. Posted 25/07/2014 at 02:59 | Permalink

    This is very sad news. I first met John at the MPS meetings in London in 2002, where he was a wonderful host. He will be greatly missed.

  35. Posted 25/07/2014 at 06:01 | Permalink

    I too am shocked and saddened by John’s death. The previous entries have each so eloquently captured all of our feelings about a man – a young man I hasten to add – who has left us with so much to be grateful for. Rather than discuss how we met some thirty years ago, I’d like to focus on three things I learned from John. After all, he was a superb teacher, and we have much to learn from his example:
    1. He didn’t care who got the credit. Ronald Reagan often noted Harry Truman’s comment that it’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. That was John. He was constantly offering ideas, suggestions and help to help move the business forward. His contact list was the world, and he was always willing to share it.
    2. He was a long term thinker. Short term gains were fine, but long term investment in ideas was John’s cup of tea. Many’s the time he viewed a small investment in emerging talent as a tremendous payout 10-20 years down the road. And he was usually right.
    3. He had fun. Yes, ideas have consequences but so does fun. Man does not live by ideas alone as it were. Cricket at the Oval (“the best hot dogs in London”), the Oakland Raiders, the list goes on. John loved ideas, but he also loved the world beyond. What did a police officer from Massachusetts and an academic from South Africa have in common? They knew John – a bond cemented over a pint.

    I have one regret. I wish i had known he would not be with us for long – for I would have liked to have told him thanks. Thanks for all that I learned from him and thanks for all he did for the cause of liberty. Rest in peace, John. And Blessings to Christine, Miles and James.

  36. Posted 25/07/2014 at 07:52 | Permalink

    Like others I am truly shocked to hear this sad news. The IEA played such an important part in the Thatcher revolution, but John made a huge contribution in renewing it in the somewhat confused aftermath of the removal of Margaret. That the IEA continues to flourish today owes much to John’s work upon which Mark has so successfully built. He was a quiet and lovely man. Condolences to Christine and the family.

  37. Posted 25/07/2014 at 13:00 | Permalink

    As is everyone, I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear this news. John gave me my break and took a chance on me post-university while I no discernible skills other than being ‘sound’ and available. And over the 14years I worked for him I learnt much, growing personally and professionally under his tutelage.

    Many of his achievements and attributes have been touched upon but his back-office reforms secured the IEA’s financial future. Indeed, his specific fundraising skills allowed the IEA to buy the freehold of 2 Lord North Street in the mid-1990s. Also, of note was his genius organising Lord Harris’ memorial at short notice and (as P Booth has mentioned) in bringing MPS to London in 2002.

    John professionalised the fundraising and the sales operation, putting in place systems to bring in money and to actively market the publications. Indeed, myself and Bob Layson often used to joke at public events that he (JB) had missed his calling as a market trader he was such a natural salesman.

    My heart goes out to Christine and Miles and James, he died before his time and I am going to miss him.

  38. Posted 26/07/2014 at 00:12 | Permalink

    I never met Mr Blundell, but I had many phone conversations with him when I bought many of the overstocked books left when I.H.S. closed out its publishing program in Austrian economics. He was always pleasant and business like and the purchase made a big difference in the growth of my business. He will be missed and I offer condoloscences and best wishes to his loved ones that survive him.

  39. Posted 26/07/2014 at 08:55 | Permalink

    John’s death is desperately sad news for everyone who knew him and for those who believed in the values he did so much to advance. His concerns went well beyond economic theory – his belief in the benefits of adoption is a good example. He was extraordinarily welcoming to young people, international visitors and individuals just starting to think on the topics about which he knew so much. His enthusiasm was boundless and always accompanied by great good humour. He seemed to eschew personal recognition – but he had, and will continue to have, a huge impact on all of us. What a terribly premature loss. Our deepest sympathy to Christine and their sons.

  40. Posted 27/07/2014 at 08:15 | Permalink

    I am terribly saddened to hear this news. My thoughts and prayers go out to Christine and the boys. John was the most important influence in my early career. Coming around to classical liberal ideas in the early 1990s, I was warmly welcomed into the IEA when John first arrived in 1993. There was a palpable air of excitement around the IEA at the time, as John gathered around him a group of young and (in my case) not so young people, including Mark Pennington, Roger Bate, Julian Morris, each of whom has gone on to do terrific things; all of us owe so much to John’s encouragement. With his help, I set up the Education Unit in 1995, and he encouraged me to transfer this to the EG West Centre at Newcastle University later. John was an incredibly loyal and generous friend. During my recent difficult 4 months in India, John was one of a handful of friends who emailed me every couple of days, keeping me up with gossip and news and generally cajoling me along. He told me he cried with joy when I was released; never once did he let on that he was suffering himself. A truly brave man. I’ll miss him deeply.

  41. Posted 27/07/2014 at 10:03 | Permalink

    Very shocked by this news. John was a good friend at the IEA, his helpfulness was ledgendary, and his achievements are greater than many of us can imagine. May he Rest in Peace and deepest condolences to Christine and the family.

  42. Posted 27/07/2014 at 10:43 | Permalink

    I was John’s tutor at LSE. He was always interested in big ideas, probably to the detriment of his exam results for which little ideas count more. What I most recall though is that in tutorials he was the oneness to make me feel good!

  43. Posted 27/07/2014 at 12:40 | Permalink

    This is sad news that we lose one of our great leaders of the free-market movement.
    I’ll miss John’s patient interest when we met each year, always interested in our progress and where we thought Australia may be heading!
    Let’s be thankful for the little bit of John that lives on in each of us.

  44. Posted 27/07/2014 at 13:01 | Permalink

    Dear James, Miles and Christine:I am sorry to hear of the loss of your John. He was a dedicated, intelligent and passionate man. I continued to follow him and his work at IEA and only realized later in life about the influence and respect that your father had in the US and UK. A great individual who will be greatly missed.

  45. Posted 27/07/2014 at 13:31 | Permalink

    John’s passing is a very sad shock. I can offer more testimory to John’s generosity: Having only briefly met me, on the strength of a recommendation from Walter Grinder, in 1981 John and Christine put me and my first wife up for several weeks at their home in Lambeth while I was researching my dissertation in London. John did great work revitalizing the IEA, and later pioneering the libertarian graphic biography (!). His perceptiveness and sense of humour will be greatly missed.

  46. Posted 27/07/2014 at 14:34 | Permalink

    John not only did a tremendous job at the IEA, he always had time for people with advice and was happy to share access to his extensive network.

  47. Posted 27/07/2014 at 16:53 | Permalink

    This is such distressing news. John was the nicest and kindest of people. I first knew him when he was representing the self employed but then of course through Atlas, IHS and at the IEA. His delightful personality, which brought together commitment, charm and nobility, meant that whenever we met there was never the slightest discomfort about historical events at the Institute. On the contrary he went out of his way to make contact easy and pleasant, and his self-deprecating style, warmth and wry humour is wonderfully captured in so many tributes. We will have warm and fond memories of him.

  48. Posted 27/07/2014 at 17:29 | Permalink

    LIke everyone else I am shocked and saddened by this news. I got to know John well when both he and I were MPs’ research assistants in 1975/6 (working out of the ‘sound’ room in the Norman Shaw North building). He was a great networker and ‘fixer’ even then, somehow hearing on the grapevine all the jobs which were going amongst MPs. Thinking about it, I have only just realised that it was John who let me know of three of the interesting jobs which I went on to do, one of which was for Teresa Gorman and her Association of Self Employed people (which John himself then went on to work for). He is also, indirectly responsible for my marriage! I met my husband, Philip Vander Elst, at a Carl Menger society conference organised by John at the LSE in 1976.

    Philip joins me in sending sincere condolences to Christine and their sons.

  49. Posted 28/07/2014 at 09:05 | Permalink

    The words ‘shocked’ and ‘saddened’ are used by all those who knew John Blundell when they heard of his unexpected death. The words are used because they are so fitting for feelings common to us all.

    I began working under John at the IEA in May 1994 as relief receptionist, merchandise salesman and bookseller and I was there when he moved on in 2009. He was a pleasure to work for and made one feel part of a team. He would even often join in when any shifting of furniture or unloading of a book delivery was underway.

    At a more strategic level he oversaw the creation of the Seldon Room and even though I love books I could not deny that the cramped and dusty library had to make way for a big bright meeting room. John understood that a charity, paradoxically, should not look like it is in great need of money but that it can make good use of donations.

    Far, far more can be said of young John ( I was born in 1950) but I can only say that I shall always be grateful to him for finding me a berth at the IEA where I could do what I enjoyed for an institution of which I very much approved.

    Bob Layson

  50. Posted 28/07/2014 at 09:29 | Permalink

    Such sad news. John did a fantastic job to help and encourage people like myself to engage in the battle of ideas, often behind the scenes and without recognition. He was a true English gentleman. His legacy will never die. My condolences to Christine and family.

  51. Posted 30/07/2014 at 18:07 | Permalink

    I just learned of John’s death through another friend here in the U.S., and am saddened. I met and worked for John as IHS’s “database manager” between 1982 and 1983. When IHS moved to George Mason University in 1983, I did not follow, but John and I kept up contact and when John joined the IEA, I was put on that organization’s mailing list, and I still get pamphlets from it. I proofed his book on Margaret Thatcher and promoted his “Ladies for Liberty.” He’ll be missed by me and by others, I’m sure. He was a great and constant fighter for freedom.

  52. Posted 31/07/2014 at 01:31 | Permalink

    I only met John a few times, but he had the wonderful knack of making one feel special. We were both long-haired graduates of the LSE–to use Richard Ritchie’s phrase. I was privileged to have known him at all, and–perhaps the greatest tribute–would have liked to have known him better.

  53. Posted 02/08/2014 at 05:48 | Permalink

    John got things done. He made great efforts to bring young people into the libertarian movement and was unfailingly generous with his hospitality, time and advice. For many years he took the Telegraph not for its centre right leanings but on account of its superior sports coverage, particularly cricket. John and Christine were delightful company and wonderful loving parents to their two sons.

  54. Posted 03/08/2014 at 06:34 | Permalink

    I am so sad to hear this unexpected news of John’s death. John and Christine have been such a great support to me since I first met them in 1997 when I was a PhD student. John was instrumental in ensuring that I got some much needed funding for my PhD. He looked out for me from then on, ensuring that I was invited to important events and conferences. He was always kind, interested in what I was doing, and ready to help whenever I saw him. He even introduced me to Margaret Thatcher! So many of us have lost a wonderful colleague and friend. He will be sorely missed, and my love and prayers are with Christine and their boys at this sad time.

  55. Posted 04/08/2014 at 13:45 | Permalink

    I was absolutely shocked – and extremely saddened – when I heard the news of John’s death. I was his Economics teacher during his time in the sixth form at King’s School, Macclesfield, and have kept in touch with him ever since, and particularly during his time at the IEA. Although I by no means always agreed with his stance, I always very much enjoyed listening to him and reading his published material, which was always well-thought-out and well-argued, as well as also being mischievously provocative at times. Others have commented on John’s sense of humour, as well as his amazing networking skills ; I think I am best placed to add comments on his remarkable sense of loyalty to his old school, which I have never seen to the same degree in any of the very many former pupils with whom I have had contact since I first began as a teacher at Kings in 1968. He didn’t just avow loyalty, either ; he made concrete contributions, in several different forms – for example, places for students at IEA conferences, essay prizes, a financial award of no little significance [in my name, as it happens] open to Economics students at the school, not to mention donations to fund-raising efforts for school cricket tours.
    I know too that John was very much enjoying his post-IEA time in the US, busy as one would expect in a wide variety of avenues, continuing to proselytise for the cause in which he so firmly believed. It is, of course, a great tragedy for his family that he has died so young, but it is also tragic because of all that he has been unable to do.

  56. Posted 05/08/2014 at 07:29 | Permalink

    I met John Blundell when we were both Councillors on Lambeth Council in the days of the the Marxist WRP supported leader Red Ted Knight. John took part in a walk to Brighton ,wearing my sun helmet, to warn the Tory Party conference of what was happening in Lambeth.
    We kept in touch and I was fortunate to be invited to many excellent IEA events.
    My sympathies go to Christine and his sons.
    Peter Davis OBE , recently retired Director-General of the British Plastics Federation

  57. Posted 07/08/2014 at 17:05 | Permalink

    I met John at King’s when we were both involved in the Aviation Society. As teenagers we visited airfields and airshows around the country and got into all sorts of mischief!

    Our friendship continued even though we met far too infrequently and I have always counted John as my dearest friend.

    In 1980 I was honoured to have John as my Best Man. His speech began: ‘Of course, Julie and Malcolm are no strangers to honeymoons. PAUSE. At this point my father-in-law gave me the blackest of black looks. It was 1980! And John continued, ‘they came on ours’. Indeed we met up with Christine and John in Portsmouth on the second week of their honeymoon.

    John certainly was the Best Man in every way.

    We were devastated to hear of John’s sudden passing. Our deepest sympathies and love go to Christine, Miles and James. He will be sorely missed.

  58. Posted 11/08/2014 at 09:31 | Permalink

    I was very shocked and saddened to hear of John’s untimely passing. We had recently got in contact again after many years going our separate ways. Such very happy memories of our teenage years as friends growing up in Congleton. The fun on the Kings School Aviation Society trips to Biggin Hill and Farnborough air shows, amongst many. More fun at the St Peter’s youth club in the vicarage cellar…..where John pursued the affections of a very pretty shy girl called Christine ! Even as a young teenager, John knew exactly what he wanted. We shall miss him and his special character very much indeed.

  59. Posted 15/08/2014 at 07:21 | Permalink

    Pity he wasn’t the chancellor !!

  60. Posted 15/08/2014 at 14:22 | Permalink

    I, too, like Joan Alcock and Malcolm Brunt above, have known John since we were very young children. Our parents were very close friends at St Peter’s Church , Congleton , and John and I travelled on the train each day to school in Macclesfield. In later years John had many contacts with my now late father Arthur Pollard and indeed father wrote a number of books and pamphlets for John at the IEA.
    I was deeply shocked to read his obituary in today’s Daily Telegraph, and would add my sympathy and best wishes to Christine and the boys.
    John Pollard

  61. Posted 15/08/2014 at 15:49 | Permalink

    The liberty movement has lost one of its brightest lights. John’s influence on the work of so many of us cannot be overstated, and I will always remember his kindness to me. A gentle giant in many ways, his friendship will be missed. My sympathy to John’s family. RIP.

  62. Posted 17/08/2014 at 14:36 | Permalink

    John Blundell was a friend and colleague for four decades, a resource for help and an inspiration whether at the founding of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver with Anthony Fisher and Friedrick Hayek in 1976, in helping teach ‘Policy making in the Public Sector’
    at university in the 1980s or commenting helpfully on events with the Economic Research Council over the years.So many occasions when I have been grateful for the thoughtful and practical help freely given by an outstanding and generous scholar. John’s passing gives me a deep sence of loss quite out of proportion to the extent of time we actually spent together.

  63. Posted 12/10/2014 at 03:14 | Permalink

    Only just learned of Johns passing……
    John was a gentleman in every true sense of the word.
    I came to know him at the pub we both frequented,
    the Morpeth Arms on the embankment,
    we became friends.
    so glad to have known him
    rest in peace mate……..

  64. Posted 26/03/2015 at 12:34 | Permalink

    John Blundell was a wonderful and kind man, who remembered my late mother Dr Naomi Moldofsky during her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease and continued to write to her long after others had stopped doing so. He always showed great respect and consideration and made us feel a little less alone in the world. He was also most encouraging and supportive of my efforts in writing her life story, making many valuable suggestions regarding whom to contact among her colleagues. I will always remember him and wish his family well.

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