Government and Institutions

IEA Chairman Neil Record responds to Angela Rayner MP

On Tuesday 9th February 2021, the Institute of Economic Affairs published ‘Viral Myths: Why we risk learning the wrong lessons from the pandemic’, a briefing paper authored by our Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz.

The report argued that Covid-19 has been used to justify certain “conventional wisdoms”, including the belief that the NHS is has been a “star performer” in the pandemic.

Soon after publication, Angela Rayner MP, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Labour Party, made allegations against Health Secretary Matt Hancock which implicated IEA Chairman Neil Record.

Ms Rayner demanded that the Health Secretary “make a public statement to condemn this report in the strongest terms” and “repay” the donations he has received from IEA Chairman Neil Record. You can read her letter, which she posted publicly on Twitter, here.

The IEA’s Chairman has penned a full response to Ms Rayner in which he sets the record straight and requests a public apology for falsely alleging that the IEA “bankrolled” Matt Hancock. In the letter, Mr Record points out that any donations preceded Mr Hancock’s appointment as Health Secretary and were made in a personal capacity. He writes:

“You state that the IEA ‘bankrolled’ the Health Secretary. This is completely untrue – not only did the IEA not bankroll the Health Secretary, the IEA did not even know that I had made donations to Mr Hancock prior to his becoming the Health Secretary. Furthermore, the IEA is an educational charity, and as such would never contemplate, and indeed is forbidden from, ‘bankrolling’ a Government minister.”

You can read Mr Record’s letter in full here.

IEA Director General Mark Littlewood responded to Ms Rayner’s demands in The Telegraph, pointing out the absurdity of the Deputy Labour Leader’s claims.

Mark said: “The idea that a volunteer chair of a think tank should not be able to donate his own money to causes he believes in is both absurd and corrosive.

“The call for this money to be ‘repaid’ if that think tank ever issues a report which is at odds with government or party policy is ludicrous.

“This is doubly true given that the IEA holds no corporate stance on any policy matter, reports are the views only of the author, the chair of the IEA had not yet even seen the report and the donations in question predate Matt Hancock becoming Health Secretary.”

In the same article, Joy Morrissey MP robustly defended the importance of public discourse, asking: “What is the point of think tanks if they are only allowed to have the approved opinion?”

You can read the IEA’s full response to Ms Rayner’s misguided claims here.

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