IEA Conversations
School vs Parents: Who should have the final say?

School vs Parents: Who should have the final say?

June 20, 2019

The No Outsiders programme was created in 2014 by Andrew Moffat, the assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham. The programme aims to teach children about the characteristics protected by the Equality Act - such as sexual orientation and religion. Books used in the programme include stories about a dog that doesn't feel like it fits in, two male penguins that raise a chick together and a boy who likes to dress up like a mermaid.

But some parents at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham say lessons featuring books depicting same-sex relationships are not age-appropriate.  The lessons have created a furious debate, involving court injunctions and many pages of opinion columns. 

The debate ultimately raises the big question about to what extent societies need to share the same values, and how those values are communicated to the next generation. Does a cohesive society have to uphold a shared and single version of the Good? 

Or is okay for views on this topic to diverge? Should there be many different schools teaching different perspectives? Is it right for a state education system to impose a particular set of moral values on everyone, even if we are sympathetic to them? To what extent should the state shape and determine attitudes and feelings, and thought?

Joining the IEA's digital manager Darren Grimes to discuss is Joanna Williams, associate editor at spiked and Benjamin Butterworth, Weekend Editor and reporter for the i newspaper

Is fracking compatible with a fossil-free future?

Is fracking compatible with a fossil-free future?

June 13, 2019

Opponents of Fracking argue that it was always a bad idea, because of climate change. Cutting carbon emissions means reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. So, to develop a new gas industry is to do the opposite. Polls have consistently shown that fracking is unpopular. When three anti-fracking activists were freed from jail they were greeted with cheers. The public, says the Guardian newspaper, were ahead of the Government in realising that giving up on this industry makes sense.

But joining the IEA’s Digital Manager Darren Grimes in this week’s podcast, Natascha Engel, who recently resigned as the Government’s fracking tsar, Natascha argues that an urge to ‘do something’ about climate change will hustle politicians into bad decisions — and almost certainly make things worse. in the past, hasty policy has had us driving now-discredited diesel cars. We are felling tropical forests to make space for palm oil to provide biofuel. We are burning “renewable” wood pellets that are significantly more carbon-emitting than the coal they displaced. Now the government, in response to environmental pressure, has instituted a de facto ban on fracking.

Trump, trade & twenty-twenty

Trump, trade & twenty-twenty

June 6, 2019

This week the UK rolled out the red carpet for Donald Trump's first state visit. The controversial President holds over a 75% disapproval rating among the UK public. But putting the politics aside, what should we make of the policies behind the visit?

What is the status of the Special Relationship? Can a free trade deal between the US and the UK really be secured? Would the NHS actually be on the table? And what about the economic debates taking place back in the States in the run-up to the 2020 election?

Joining IEA Associate Director Kate Andrews on the podcast today are Tim Stanley, historian and leader writer for the Daily Telegraph, and Freddy Gray, deputy editor of The Spectator, and editor of Spectator USA.

Free speech and the push for online censorship

Free speech and the push for online censorship

May 23, 2019

Do you have to think like those who are seeing their social media accounts wiped or banned, to see that social media censorship is a grave concern in a free society? 

On this week's podcast, the IEA's Head of Education Dr Steve Davies talks to our Digital Manager Darren Grimes about free speech online and the push for censorship. 

Subscribe to our podcast channel here

In Conversation with Liz Truss MP

In Conversation with Liz Truss MP

May 17, 2019

On this week's podcast IEA Associate Director Kate Andrews interviews 'self-proclaimed freedom fighter' and 'state-proclaimed Chief Secretary to the Treasury' Liz Truss MP. 

The pair discuss the likelihood of a free-market Brexit, the near 50-year high tax burden, spending cuts, devolution, whether or not strawberries and cream should be banned from tube advertisements, and young people's flirtation with liberal ideas.

Don't miss the rapid-fire questions at the end! 


The debate on high pay

The debate on high pay

May 8, 2019

The Labour Party’s Peter Mandelson once remarked that Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. But in 2019 a politician is more likely to be heard saying we must all be deeply concerned about the apparent excesses of pay at the top of organisations – both public and private sector. 

But do they have a point? Many argue that the current requirement for large businesses to spell out the basis of their pay structure may be acceptable, and find maintaining a watchful eye on pay in the public sector to be eminently sensible. But are those calling for the state to have the power to fix pay ratios or even introduce pay caps at risk of ignoring the numerous downsides which come from government intervention?

Well! Fortunately, a new IEA publication debates these very issues, with Top Dogs & Fat Cats: The Debate on High Pay launched this week. It looks at all aspects of the high pay debate and features chapters debating the rights and wrongs of CEO pay, the links between corporate governance and executive pay, and the gender pay gap in executive roles.

It features contributions from leading academics and economists and was brought together by IEA Editorial Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton. Joining Darren Grimes to discuss the topic is Len himself and Luke Hildyard, Executive Director of the High Pay Centre, a UK think tank carrying out research and analysis on issues relating to top incomes, corporate governance, and business performance. 

The Power of Capitalism

The Power of Capitalism

May 2, 2019

"The market has failed, we need more government intervention" - that's the mantra politicians, the media and intellectuals have been reiterating constantly ever since the outbreak of the 2008 financial crisis.

By taking the reader on a journey across continents and through recent history, author Rainer Zitelmann disproves this call for greater government intervention and demonstrates that capitalism matters more than ever. The author provides compelling evidence from across the world that capitalism has been the solution to a number of massive problems. He compares developments in West and East Germany, North and South Korea, capitalist Chile v. Socialist Venezuela, and analyses the extraordinary economic rise of China. For many people, "capitalism" is a dirty word. This book provides a timely reminder of capitalism's power is enabling growth and prosperity and is alleviating poverty.

Dr Kristian Niemietz joined Dr Rainer Zitelmann to discuss the 'Power of Capitalism'.

The consequences of a permanent Customs Union

The consequences of a permanent Customs Union

April 25, 2019

Remaining in a customs union with the EU would make it impossible for the UK to establish an independent trade policy, and render reclaiming policy areas such as agriculture and state aid an impossibility, an IEA briefing argues.

With customs union membership still on the table as a way to break the Brexit deadlock, a new IEA briefing outlines how any short-term benefits of customs union membership - such as securing supply chains - would be significantly outweighed in the long-run by the loss of trade opportunities and higher prices for UK consumers. 

Author of the report Shanker Singham, Director of the IEA's trade unit, highlights how a customs union would come with significant risk to UK consumers, who would lack representation in new EU trade agreements; UK consumers could also face price rises that protect EU manufacturers, and find their interests ranked secondary to those of EU producers. It would also reduce the UK’s influence with historic partners across the developing world.

On top of these drawbacks, membership of a customs union does not achieve ‘frictionless’ trade – one of the supposed benefits championed by those in support of staying in a customs union. 

Darren Grimes, Digital Manager at the IEA was joined to discuss by Shanker Singham and the top Brexit wonk who’s never off the telly, Henry Newman, Director of Open Europe.

Universal Credit: Good idea, badly implemented?

Universal Credit: Good idea, badly implemented?

April 18, 2019

Universal Credit has been dubbed one of the most radical changes to the British welfare system since the Beveridge Report, which proposed widespread reforms to the social welfare system, to tackle what he identified as five "Giant Evils" in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. 

Since Beveridge, the welfare system has continued to morph; since World War II, we’ve added child benefits, housing benefit, tax credits… I could go on, the list kept growing. Many have argued that this has created a new series of problems – mainly that many people have been deterred from taking jobs, fearing that they would, in fact, end worse off than they were on benefits. A system designed to help people out of poverty has arguably become a poverty trap.

But given that the Trussell Trust is concerned about links between Universal Credit, financial hardship, and food bank use, is it time to scrap Universal Credit? Or does the programme have the right ideas, suffering from poor implementation?

Joining the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes to discuss is the IEA’s economics fellow Julian Jessop and Patrick Spencer from the Centre for Social Justice - the think tank which can claim to be the brains behind the thinking behind Universal Credit!

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Online Harms

Online Harms

April 11, 2019

The Government took a swipe at global internet giants on Monday, suggesting rules that would require companies to proactively remove content the government views as illegal or “harmful,” and giving the government the right to block or even shut down offending sites.

As part of the Online Harms White Paper, a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office, a new independent regulator will be introduced to ensure companies meet their responsibilities.

The proposals, contained in the 102-page white paper, are aimed at combating the spread of disinformationhate speechonline extremism, and child exploitation. If enacted as described, they would constitute some of the most stringent and far-reaching restrictions on internet speech by a major western democracy. Critics say the proposals fail to balance curbing harmful speech with free expression.

No matter how well-meaning, opponents of the white paper argue that the proposals to regulate the web could give the state the power to clamp down on the freedom of the press and free speech. Beggin the question: at a time when Britain is criticising violations of freedom of expression in states like Iran, China and Russia, should we really be undermining such freedoms at home?

It also means that the same rules that govern behemoths such as Google and Facebook – both of which have expert in-house legal teams and billions of pounds at their disposal – will apply to any website, however small or harmless, that allows users to post comments. Such regulations aimed at nudging the behaviour of tech giants may actually entrench their position as market leaders, by stifling innovation and competition.

Joining the IEA’s Digital Manager Darren Grimes to discuss is the IEA’s Victoria Hewson and the Adam Smith Institute’s Matthew Lesh.