We have?

Millions of dollars has been raised from anonymous US donors to support British rightwing thinktanks that are among the most prominent in the Brexit debate.

American donors are giving money to US fundraising bodies that pass the donations to four thinktanks in Britain. A Guardian analysis has established that $5.6m (£4.3m) has been donated to these US entities since 2008.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Adam Smith Institute, Policy Exchange and the Legatum Institute have all received financial support from US backers via this route.

The disclosure leaves the thinktanks facing questions as to whether wealthy Americans have undue influence in British politics, particularly over the form Brexit takes.

It would be difficult for there to be all that much influence. To give an example, I’m a Senior Fellow at the ASI. I also do a lot of writing for them. And I’ve no idea who funds – nor how much- the Institute. Not through any lassitude, it’s simply something that isn’t revealed to anyone.

And if I don’t know who funds – and I don’t get given instructions on what to think or write about, which I’m not – then whatever that funding is cannot influence, can it?

The UK thinktanks are some of strongest proponents of radical free trade deals with reduced regulation – positions likely to benefit big American businesses, which have opposed Europe’s tighter regulations since the 2008 financial crash.

Given that I’ve argued for unilateral free trade since whenever that would be a considerable watering down of my views rather than a strengthening of them.

They have a policy of not disclosing their donors, arguing they respect their backers’ right to privacy unless the backers wish otherwise. Critics say the lack of transparency allows unseen donors to influence political debate.

But if I, at the coal face, don’t know, how can it influence?

14 thoughts on “We have?”

  1. In the interests of fairness and balance, could the Guardian also do an article on EU, Saudi and Soros funding of UK political groups?

  2. Works the other way round. Donors spot an organisation which is doing something they like anyway, and then support it. Like Mr. Scott did for the Guardian, although Mr. Scott cannot change his mind if said newspaper changes.

  3. “Could the Guardian also do an article on EU, Saudi and Soros funding of UK political groups”

    And the funding of environmental groups as well……………..

  4. If the left say it is either lies or deliberate distortion. After the Kavo capers it is as well for the scum of socialism that that they are stone evil.

    They would never be able to hold their heads up again otherwise.

  5. A question I regularly put to the academics and useful idiots (such as Dan Davies and Wrong-Lewis ) who are so worried about the funding of the IEA, are you unable to evaluate opinions and arguments on their own merits? Why should a funding source necessarily discredit an argument?

    I never get a reasoned response. It is almost as if they are more concerned to discredit than to write a reasoned response. Or maybe that they have no rational way of justifying their achingly fashionable, right-on views

  6. But if I, at the coal face, don’t know, how can it influence?

    If you get paid for your writing and you wouldn’t contribute without payment then it’s reasonable to say that you tend to represent views that the IEA wishes to advance and which its donors are happy to be associated with. You are not being influenced but you presumably hope that your readership is.

    A lamb is unaware of its relationship to mint sauce.

  7. What DaveC says. They don’t tell you what to write, but they stop sending the cheques if you write the wrong thing. This has two advantages. Firstly, it’s less effort for them (reading others’ ideas is easier than coming up with your own); and secondly, it means they can’t be held responsible for what you do write.

  8. If only it was done ethically, like the Guardian American fake charity scam, then everything would be fine.

    Or perhaps not. For the left, it’s not what is done, it’s who does it.

    If Boris Johnson supported people who maimed and murdered men, women and children he would be a fascist bastard who should be tortured and killed. If John McDonnell does it, he’s a freedom fighter and a hero.

  9. There’s also the usual leftist projection going on here – as they have to be paid to produce the bile they spew, they assume their opponents are the same. Whereas plenty on the right will write and agitate in favour of freedom for free. Indeed our host does exactly that here.

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