Leftwing pro-public sector Polly Toynbee agrees with the ASI

As the world continues to turn on its head the Guardian's Polly Toynbee agreed with the Adam Smith Institute this week, citing our Borders after Brexit report in her article "Take back control? Our Border Force is in no fit state to do its job,"

The piece noted:

Visa checks on people from non-EU countries are weaker, they claim, now visa offices abroad have been closed. “There are no standard interviews for student or visitor visas now. But you can’t rely on written references and qualifications,” says one officer who has worked overseas. “You need to see applicants to detect people who are not what they say they are.” During the present “surge”, there is only one forgery specialist each shift, instead of two or three: “They’re run off their feet.”
This isn’t just staff grumbling: the rightwing, anti-public sector Adam Smith Institute reported last month that the Border Force is “starved of funds and neglected”. Responsible for screening 225 million passengers a year arriving in the UK, it claims about 4,000 “high-risk” flights are landing without proper security checks.

You can read the article in full here if you don't believe us.

Sam Bowman defends immigration in the Daily Telegraph

Tom Ough's spoke with ASI Executive Director Sam Bowman for his piece in the Daily Telegraph, 'Radically increasing immigration? There couldn't be anything more Conservative'. The article reported:

What’s in it for the Shires? First, it is well-established that immigrants, because they tend to be younger, make a net contribution to our economy. We all benefit from this. There will be concerns that increased immigration will dilute British culture; Sam Bowman, the executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, is persuaded enough of this point to advocate significantly expanded rather than unlimited immigration.
"We can do things to mitigate that issue though," he says, "because we have evidence that freer labour markets make immigrants integrate more quickly. We might also look at the US Green Card system, which is careful to only let a certain number of people in from each country so you get a mix, rather than any single group coming in and ghettoizing."
The old argument of immigrants taking jobs is on the one hand unfair – immigrants create demand for labour as well as supply, their presence puts a premium on English speakers, and the jobs will simply go to another country if not here – and on the other at odds with a party of merit rather than internal economic protectionism.

Green light on fracking will help tackle unpredictable suppliers and high energy costs

Horizontal fracking can go ahead, the BBC has reported, in a landmark ruling for the UK shale gas industry.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has approved plans for fracking at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site - yet more good stuff from the MP this week following his pledge to tackle the supply of houses in the UK.

Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:

Theresa May has complained about high energy prices. Producing more gas through fracking is a good way to keep prices down. It also makes us less dependent on oil and gas imports from unpredictable suppliers such as Russia and the Middle East. With all the world’s uncertainties, and with North Sea production running down, this is a good time to be exploring new energy sources, and making ourselves self-sustainable in energy.
Fracking is happening in other countries, with very few problems, and can only get better as technology and expertise improve. It will create and sustain employment and boost our productivity.
Twenty years from now everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Bowman's eyebrows get a thorough workout during PM address

Sam Bowman's comments on Theresa May's conference address have been covered across the national media and 200+ regional titles.

The Sunday Times covered Sam's comments thrice, reporting:

Some of the Tories’ traditional free-market allies are alarmed. Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute laid into the policy, which he said had fostered a toxic culture at Volkswagen that ultimately led to last year’s emissions scandal, and reduced the value of German companies by 26%. “Academic evidence suggests that board representation is just about the only bad way of giving workers more say in how their firms are run,” he said. “So why on earth is this the policy that the supposedly pragmatic May is proposing?”

Secondly that:

If the test of being in the centre ground is that you get attacked by both right and left, Theresa May achieved her aim at the Tory conference. The Adam Smith Institute (ASI) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the latter the spiritual home of the Tories under Margaret Thatcher, both spluttered after finding much to dislike in the prime minister’s speech.
The ASI called on her to “abandon her ideological attachment to interventionist economic policies, look at the evidence, and accept that it tells us that markets, not the state, are the solution to our problems”. The IEA agreed, saying: “This was an alarming attack on free markets and the prime minister’s pledge for more state intervention in business completely disregards the evidence that competition, deregulation and a light-touch approach breeds the best results.

And the third article noted:

Think tanks normally supportive of Tory policy, such as the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs, have railed against the promised revival of state intervention.
A Tory conference that should have been a celebration for Britain’s second female prime minister, with all her political opponents in various states of disarray, helped to send the pound tumbling. Markets interpreted the prime minister’s remarks and those of her ­colleagues as pointing firmly towards an unsuccessful Brexit that will leave the economy holed below the waterline.

City AM reported on their front page:

Prime minister Theresa May was lambasted by business groups and policy wonks yesterday for a speech that laid bare an interventionist economic policy and a heavy-handed approach to business reform.
Adam Smith Institute executive director Sam Bowman said: “We call on the Prime Minister to abandon her ideological attachment to interventionist economic policies, look at the evidence, and accept that it tells us that markets, not the state, are the solution to our problems.

And again in City AM later in the week.

The Guardian reported:

Theresa May’s speech, and her criticism of the Bank of England’s monetary policy, has gone down rather badly with that beacon of free market ideology, the Adam Smith Institute.
Director Sam Bowman sounds like a man whose eyebrows got a thorough workout during the PM’s speech, saying:
[There isn’t] any evidence that clamping down on EU immigration will help British workers, but we will have to borrow more if immigration falls because they pay in more than they cost. Or that quantitative easing has made us worse off – the evidence suggests that without it the post-crisis recession would have been deeper and longer.
Mrs May’s speech was the opposite of pragmatic. We call on the Prime Minister to abandon her ideological attachment to interventionist economic policies, look at the evidence, and accept that it tells us that markets, not the state, are the solution to our problems.

And quoted Sam again on the Guardian later that week.

Buzzfeed reported:

A similarly outraged response came from the free market Adam Smith Institute, which once influenced the policies of Margaret Thatcher: “We call on the prime minister to abandon her ideological attachment to interventionist economic policies, look at the evidence, and that it tells us that markets, not the state, are the solution to our problems.”

The New Statesman reported:

Classical liberals feel increasingly homeless. Adam Smith Institute director Sam Bowman ordered May to “abandon her ideological attachment to interventionist economic policies, look at the evidence and accept that it tells us that markets, not the state, are the solution to our problems.”

The Daily Express reported:

Her speech sparked fear in the Big Six energy suppliers - British Gas, EDF Energy, nPower, E.On UK, Scottish Power and SSE.
Sam Bowman, executive director of the free market libertarian think tank Adam Smith Institute, said: "If only Theresa May was serious about ditching ideology in favour of pragmatism and evidence – she’d have to abandon most of her main policy planks.

May must accept that markets are the solution to our problems

Following PM Theresa May's closing Conservative Party Conference address, Sam Bowman takes a critical look at her claims of pragmatism.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, commented:

"If only Theresa May was serious about ditching ideology in favour of pragmatism and evidence – she’d have to abandon most of her main policy planks.
"Take energy price caps. We have evidence that these will lead to lower investment, lower production and more brownouts or even blackouts. Eventually, these policies may lead to electricity rationing and nationalisation. High energy prices are mostly caused by high wholesale prices, and energy firms are not generally more profitable than other large firms.
"Or look at the employee representation on company boards – which is better described as union representation. Here, the evidence is that giving unions this sort of power can turn boards toxic, as happened to Volkswagen, and these rules have reduced the value of German firms by 26%. Other academic evidence suggests that board representation is just about the only bad way of giving workers more say in how their firms are run. So why on earth is this the policy that supposedly-pragmatic May is proposing?
"Nor is there any evidence that clamping down on EU immigration will help British workers, but we will have to borrow more if immigration falls because they pay in more than they cost. Or that quantitative easing has made us worse off – the evidence suggests that without it the post-crisis recession would have been deeper and longer.
"Mrs May’s speech was the opposite of pragmatic. We call on the Prime Minister to abandon her ideological attachment to interventionist economic policies, look at the evidence, and accept that it tells us that markets, not the state, are the solution to our problems."                   

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

 

Creating a buzz around the Border Force

It was standing room only at the ASI's event 'The Border After Brexit: Securing Britain's borders' with panel guests Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover, James Kirkup of the Daily Telegraph, and Ed West of the Spectator.

Buzzfeed news reported:

"A Conservative MP has suggested that there would be no border controls between England and an independent Scotland. Speaking to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday after an event on what the UK’s borders would look like once the country leaves the EU, Charlie Elphicke MP said the question of an independent Scotland’s border was “exactly the same” as Northern Ireland’s.
Prime minister Theresa May has previously ruled out the prospect of border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is inside the EU, saying: “Nobody wants to return to the borders of the past.”
Elphicke was clear that he didn’t expect Scotland to become independent in the near future and that the “best situation” would be for the UK to stay together, but suggested an independent Scotland would get the same treatment as Northern Ireland."

ASI conference line up grabs headlines with drugs debate

There was a host of great ASI events at party conference this year, with our offering leading the Spectators fridge guide listings, but one talk really caught he media's attention. 

The Independent reported:

"A former Conservative justice minister has revealed that he was discouraged from asking difficult questions about drugs policy – for fear that looking at evidence could “unpick” the status quo.
Crispin Blunt, who was in charge of prisons and probations at the Ministry of Justice from 2010 until 2012, said he was told during ministerial discussions that it would politically unwise to ask how much the prohibition of drugs was costing the UK prison system.
The MP, who now chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said policy on drugs had “ceased to be based on the evidence” and that “a remarkable number of other public policy makers who’ve been in charge in policy in this area” had come to support decriminalisation, legalisation, or other fundamental change.
Mr Blunt suggested that the Conservatives should use their poll lead and the perceived long-term chaos in the Labour party to put forward ideas on drugs policy that might be controversial."

Buzzfeed reported:

"All drugs, including heroin and cocaine, should be regulated by the government, a Conservative MP has told BuzzFeed News. Crispin Blunt, the former prisons minister, said he would like to see measures in place so all drugs could be taxed and controlled, and has called for a public inquiry into whether the law should be changed.
Speaking after an event on cannabis decriminalisation at the Conservative conference in Birmingham, Blunt said he believed prime minister Theresa May could eventually be persuaded to back him due to pressure from the international community.
Blunt said he was unaware of any Conservative parliamentary colleagues who supported him on drug decriminalisation, saying there was pressure on MPs who wanted to advance their careers to not speak up about the “politically difficult” issue."

 

Sajid Javid to announce planning reform inspired by ASI paper

Britain will build hundreds of thousands of new homes twice as quickly as normal, Sajid Javid is to announce at Conservative Party Conference today. And it looks like the Secretary of State may have taken policy inspiration from ASI's smash hit report, The Green Noose.

The plan will see enhanced planning powers to allow construction of houses and apartments on land, much of it derelict around railway stations especially in the South East.

The Mail reported that "calculations suggest that acquiring just 4% of the land adjacent to stations could create space for the construction of an extra 100,000 homes a year for some considerable time ahead", and you can read more about those figures in our paper. 

Ben Southwood, Head of Research at the ASI, responded:

“The ASI is delighted that Sajid Javid and the government are backing our strategy for planning reform and allowing the market to build houses where existing infrastructure already exists, without encroaching onto outstanding natural beauty.
 
“If the government goes ahead and allows 100,000 houses or more to be constructed each year it could make a huge dent in the UKs housing crisis, drastically increasing the affordability of rents and prices.”

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

Dr Madsen Pirie tries to work out, just what is the worst Labour policy?

President of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Madsen Pirie, was trying to decide just what was the worst Labour policy in City AM this week.

Dr Madsen Pirie, founder and president of the Adam Smith Institute, says plans for an "interventionist state".

Should investment be decided by people using their own money to back the future goods and services that people might want to buy, or should politicians use other people’s money to decide what industrial support might win them votes?
Should we invest in the future, or pour money into supporting the present status quo? Labour has made a catastrophically wrong choice. Intervention raises prices and living costs. It uses taxpayers’ money to subsidise industries that cannot make it on their own in world markets, or it sets tariffs against foreign goods to make domestic consumers and producers pay more. It makes UK goods more expensive and less competitive on world markets.
Governments talk of “picking winners” but they lack the expertise or motivation to anticipate the future. Instead they support declining industries to gain the support of those involved in them, and divert investment from the up and coming industries that will yield tomorrow’s growth and jobs. Governments always pick losers.

Read the opposing side here