FREER was created as a subsidiary of Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in early 2018. In 2021 Free Market Forum (FMF) was created by IEA as an amalgam of Freer and Free Enterprise Group.
FREER/FMF is a platform for Tory MPs to display their commitment to an ideology that serves a tiny elite at the expense of the vast majority. The MPs pocket contributors’ fees that are not classified as political donations.
FREER/FMF and its secret donors use the MPs to promote ideology and tactics that serve the donors’ objectives and to develop close relationships with the MPs to ensure friendly policy decisions are made in parliament.
Cliff-fall no-deal Brexit
IEA is owned by disaster capitalists and opportunist capitalists who are enjoying the consequences of Tories’ hard Brexit.
Via Brexit the Tories are accelerating the giveaway of what remains of Britain’s public service infrastructure including the rest of the NHS accompanied by a bonfire of workers’ rights, health and safety regulations, food quality standards, human rights and access to justice. The ultimate aim is the creation of charter cities wherein tax is avoided, all rights are absent and democracy is suppressed.
According to FREER’s mission statement, published in 2018
“Britain’s upcoming departure from the EU provides a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to reassess and reform our country across the whole range of policy areas. The ideas that FREER will champion are those that coalesce around an enduring agenda of unleashing the enterprise, imagination, and inspiration of individual men and women. The initiative is energetic and hopeful for a country that is open, dynamic, enterprising, and thriving. Beyond Brexit, there is an unparalleled opportunity to shape our country.”
The above, preached from the economic libertarian pulpit, was a long-winded admission of a desire to destroy society and public service infrastructure in Britain.
In 2021 FMF said
“As we recover from this [Covid] crisis it will be more important than ever that we unleash the enterprise, imagination, and inspiration of individual men and women.” – FMF: What we do
As a libertarian body FMF’s focus is on ensuring that the wealthiest can exploit both Brexit and Covid to maintain wealth concentration. The “individual men and women” are in a small group.
FMF stated its intent.
“The FMF aims to build on the Free Enterprise Group and FREER’s successes and branch out beyond Westminster, providing resources for and working closely with local councils and councillors, elected mayors, political activists and universities to inspire the next generation of classical liberals and promote the understanding of free markets across the UK.” – FMF: History
The above was a clear admission that FMF’s strategy is its inculcation in government and administration to direct policy and negate democracy, alongside indoctrination of potential grifters to act as salesperson’s and PR staff for free racketeering extremism.
Parliamentary Supporters of FREER/FMF
In 2018 FREER claimed that its “Parliamentary Supporters advocate the widest possible debate on freedom as the engine for prosperity and happiness for all” and on the FREER website IEA stated that it is “happy to work with politicians of all parties in an endeavour to promote its mission.”
The split of the sixty MPs who are Parliamentary Supporters of FMF in 2021 is:
TOTAL – 60
Green – 0
Labour – 0
Liberal Democrat – 0
Plaid Cymru – 0
SNP – 0
Tory – 60
Tory MPs used FREER and use FMF to regurgitate gormless paeans to the false god of capitalism. Verbose, contradictory, deceptive anti-exposition is their modus crassendi; didactic narrative, exhaustive analysis and logic are eschewed relentlessly.
Their contributions follow a similar aim with similar terminology and similar style. The shared tone is semi-spiritual presentation of the false doctrine of capitalism as an enhancement of human endeavour. There is rigid adherence to a template of confidence trickery with voluminous repetition and wilful visible ignorance of contradiction, omission and breaks in the chain of logic.
In the abstract for ‘A Freer Future’ the authors, Tory MP Lee Rowley and former Tory MP Luke Graham, proclaimed from the pulpit that “socialism stalks our landscape again [Corbyn] – superficially alluring, and as innately dangerous as ever. We are determined to strike at its ossified foundations and highlight its enduring failures.”
Graham and Rowley attempted to raise the church roof as they ejaculated the allure of free-market capitalism.
“We believe in the fundamental principle of individual freedom; the strength and boldness of those who determine their own path; that society and community are made stronger when built, piece by piece, by those who desire to improve it; in the innate power of a sleeker, but enabling, state that empowers individuals and communities to take advantage of their talents and abilities; the collective wisdom of the crowd determined via the market; the innate goodness in voluntary collective endeavour; and the necessity of limiting compulsory collective endeavours to those that we need the most, and that can be done the best. Freedom has unleashed the awesome power of our country before, and, as we plot a new course in the 2020s, beyond Brexit, it can do so again.”
Rowley wrote another paper for FREER that claimed to give advice to the young vanguard of the pro-capitalist army on how to spread the word and con the public. Full analysis here: Next Generation Deception
James Boyd-Wallis claimed to make the moral case for free markets is his essay ‘On Entrepreneurship’ in On Economic Freedom essays, starting on page 20. “The moral case rests on the idea that it is only with free enterprise that we can match reward to merit.”
His fallacious argument was that risk-taking by people with wealth, to acquire more wealth, is a moral act rather than simply a financial decision where the balance between failure and success has been calculated before the risk is taken.
“Free enterprise enables us to decide how to spend our time and talents to shape our lives. It enables us all to take risks, innovate, and — quite often — to make sacrifices to earn our success. Numerous studies show that earning our own success is essential to our fulfilment, and ultimately our happiness. Just look at small business owners, of which I am one. Many make less money than they would if they were employed. But they are often happier and more fulfilled because they can see the result of the effort they put in.”
Writing when Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader Boyd-Wallis admitted that free-racketeering lacks a moral case.
“Just look at the claims of a ‘kinder, gentler’ politics. Left with a binary choice between the moral left and the materialistic right, it’s easy to see why the public swings left. It is this lack of a moral argument for free enterprise that has contributed to Britain’s leftward march.”
His moral argument for “free enterprise” is not a moral argument. It is just a description to which he prepended the adjective “moral” in the hope that if it is repeated often enough as an “moral argument” then it would magically become so.
Elsewhere, Boyd-Wallis asked for support for a petition to the Oxford English Dictionary to expand the definition of ‘accountant’ to “a person whose job is to keep or inspect and advise on financial accounts.” Multi-million pound tax-dodgers rely on advice from accountants. To have the capacity to receive such advice enshrined in the OED could assist tax avoiders from a legal perspective.
Abuse of language: Social liberalism
Throughout the FREER literature a phrase recurred frequently: ‘Social liberalism.’
“FREER will be unique in its advocacy of genuinely free-market ideas and its emphasis on both economic and social liberalism.”
Liberty is not the right to exploit others and it is not the survival of the fittest. Liberty is the right to freedom from precisely what the financial backers of FREER/FMF desire. The misuse of ‘Social liberalism’ was a simple two-sided con-trick: (1) It associated fraudulently extreme corporate control of the economy with a diametrically opposed philosophy in order to hide the former’s anti-liberty ideology, and (2) it tried to stifle criticism by claiming that opponents of absolute corporatism are opponents of liberty.
Thirty ideas for 2030
Libertarian think-tanks and lobby groups are keen to set targets for governments to attain by an arbitrary date. FMF’s 30 Ideas For 2030 (302030), subtitled ‘A collection of policies for a better, brighter Britain by the end of this decade,’ is a hellish concoction of extreme policy proposals/declarations of intent written by MPs and other contributors. All thirty policies are part of a plan to destroy society, destroy public services, destroy government accountability and to destroy democracy.
The policies in 302030 were devised by various extreme think-tanks – IEA, Legatum Institute, Tax-Payers’ Alliance, Centre For Policy Studies, etc. – several years ago. Since 2010 these think-tanks crept into government as advisers and as MP plants such that now there is no differentiation between an MP who contributes to a think-tank and a think-tank member who advises government. We are beyond the legitimate concern of too much influence from 55 Tufton Street on government; today, (January 2022), government and the gofers for the wealthy in think-tanks are the same people.
Each element of FMF’s triaconter is presented deceptively and each has the aim of enhancing wealth concentration while (and by) reducing societal responsibilities of an elected democratic government.
A few snippets from 302030
In ‘Turning the BBC into a subscriber-owned mutual’ Philip Booth said “the BBC should operate in a market in which price signals communicate the value of its output. It could be rejuvenated and thrive as a genuinely independent organisation accountable to its owner-subscribers.” Or, it could remain as a public broadcaster accountable to its “owner-subscribers” otherwise known as the public.
In ‘Amend or repeal the Equality Act’ Tory MP Ben Bradley expressed his concern about discrimination against white men.
“Much has been written [by libertarian extremists] about the plight of white working class boys who, unless they are gay, are often thought to have no ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act.”
“There are many reasons for the disenchantment of white working class males, all of which are exacerbated by them being told, overtly or covertly, that they are surplus to requirements. The problem can be traced back to the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act, passed in 2002 to exempt political parties from the Sex Discrimination Act (1975), thereby allowing the Labour Party to introduce all women shortlists.”
Ben Bradley couldn’t care less about the plight of working-class people, whether men, women, straight gay, white or not. His rhetoric is indistinguishable from extreme-right philosophy.
In ‘Amending the NHS staffing timebomb’ Tory MP Paul Bristow pretended to be concerned about staff shortages in NHS, shortages that are a consequence of his party’s policies, but his proposal was to ask staff to double-job.
“We should do more to break down professional protectionism. The NHS is an incredibly complex organisation, with multiple hierarchical layers, clinical and administrative divides, and a seemingly endless collection of similar job titles.”
Job titles, which are all job descriptions, in the medical profession are precise because medical care is a precise occupation that requires precise skills. Bristow’s ignorance was an example of the wilfully reckless attitude of the Tories.
He exclaimed that “clinicians with decades of experience are often left unable to perform simple procedures because they do not have appropriate accreditation.” Such accreditation exists for a reason: Patient safety.
A well as his lack of interest in medical safety Bristow chose to avoid mentioning that all medical are already overworked and cannot take on more jobs.
In ‘Cut regulation to encourage cooperatives’ Sam Collins sought the abolition of the minimum wage.
“Minimum wages are arbitrarily set without taking into account the economic conditions. The decision to increase the ‘living wage’ by 6 per cent in the middle of the biggest economic catastrophe in 200 years is indicative of this.”
He claimed that regulations such as minimum wage are a hindrance to the existence of cooperatives but offered no explanation or proof of his assertion; he just stated it as a random fact.
In ‘Make Britain the best place to start and grow a business’ Tory MP Dehenna Davison asked for the “planned corporation tax increase” to be “scrapped.”
In ‘Get the state out of childcare’ IEA’s Director Of Communications Annabel Denham complained about “years of creeping state interference” in professional childcare and accused governments of “pumping up demand.”
Her opposition to the cost to “taxpayers,” particularly the £15 per week for childcare for over-threes, did not include any criticism of the privateer childcare industry. She said that “because government pays below the market rate” nurseries raise costs elsewhere.
The problem with pre-school childcare in UK is that “owners” of businesses that provide the care are interested only in profit, whether income comes from parents or from government. Denham has no qualms about exploiters making money out of childcare. She objected to government assistance because of costs to “taxpayers” but did not blame those who demand the costs.
She asked for removal of necessary protections that exist in the form of various regulations related to care of young children.
“Many regulations – restrictions on class size, qualification requirements, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and strict teacher to child ratios – are unnecessary and damaging. Childminder registration, extensive training. Ofsted inspections and more have driven many lower-cost providers out of the sector.“
For Denham, and for IEA, childcare is just another opportunity for reckless racketeers to make a profit.
In ‘Reinvigorating our shareholder democracy’ Tory MP Jonathan Djanogly bemoaned the decline of “worker share ownership.”
“Of particular concern is the need to attract younger workers towards ownership of and engagement in their employing companies. It’s in all of our interests that we have a real shake-up of Employee Share Ownership schemes as part of our reinvigoration of a share owning democracy.”
A “share owning democracy” is not a democracy; public ownership is and worker ownership is.
A private employer’s profits are not the concern of workers. Workers’ relationship with employers is a relationship of sale of labour.
Djanogly knows that if workers can be conned into thinking their employers’ interests are their interests then workers are less likely to attempt to improve wages or working conditions. Some share ownership schemes/scams demand employees are not members of trades’ unions.
In ‘Let the Big Society flourish’ Tory MP Simon Fell regurgitated David Cameron’s Big Society con-trick that asks charities and volunteers to do the work that should be done by public services. “I propose setting up a Civil Society Empowerment Agency” to “create an index of third sector and civil society organisations, creating a bank of good practice so that they can learn from each other, and helping them
measure their impact.”
Fell admitted that “The Big Society was  mired by its association with austerity.” Yes it was, because it was obvious it was an ephemeral invention by Tories to nudge focus away from their destruction of public services and of the government’s societal responsibilities.
In ‘Helping tenants become owner-occupiers’ IEA’s Academic and Research Director James Forder asked for the end of Capital Gains Tax to help multi-property owners make a profit.
“The result of the increase in house prices is that these landlords have large, unrealised capital gains. Whilst they have certainly done well, the obligation to pay Capital Gains Tax if they sell their rental property prevents many from doing so. The result is that the tax system induces them to remain small-scale landlords even when they might prefer to sell up to liquidate cash, or invest elsewhere.”
Forder knows that tax cuts for multi-property owners is not a policy popular with the public so he cast it as helping tenants to buy the home they live in. “The much larger advantage is that it makes it easier for people to stop being tenants and instead become owner-occupiers.” Such deliberate misrepresentation by IEA of policy proposals is typical of its mendacious philosophy.
In ‘Letting schools think and learn differently’ Tory MP Richard Fuller promoted home schooling.
“A great policy success of the last decade has been the free school revolution in the education sector enabling parents to choose between schools, finding the one best suited for their children and strengthening standards across the sector. What if we went further and gave parents more choice over the teachers that educate their children?”
He claimed advances in technology allows teachers to tutor children remotely online.
“This policy is based on choice to teachers, schools and parents with no compulsion to take part in a super teacher scheme.”
Libertarians’ “choice” is always illusory. Fuller ignored the fact that teachers are already over-worked in terms of hours. He spoke of “best performing teachers” but not of a policy of ensuring that all teachers are best performing. Pay, hours and student debt are disincentives to consider a career in teaching. Fuller has no interest in addressing those issues.
In ‘Abolish corporation tax’ Alexander Hammond hacked his way through a cornucopia of deceptive arguments to justify his assertion including “corporation taxes discourage and limit businesses carrying out the activities that are most important to growth,” “these taxes distort and weaken the signal to reallocate capital and resources from low-value activities into higher-value ones, both between different companies and within the same organisation” and “corporation taxes deter investment by reducing retained profits that may otherwise be spent on investment.”
In short, Hammond’s complaint was that businesses don’t like paying tax on their profits. Employees pay tax on their income but Hammond doesn’t want employers to pay tax on their income.
He uttered the usual free-racketeer con by saying “the abolition of corporation tax would encourage greater foreign direct investment which, would create more jobs.” In reality, it would mean more money into offshore accounts of employers.
In ‘A new approach the devolution’ Tory MP Mark Jenkinson claimed the Tory government had “moved power from Westminster to local communities” but power is unusable without funding. Tories removed central funding from councils forcing them to make huge cuts to services and to raise council tax above inflation.
Tories’ concept of “devolution” is central government abstaining from societal responsibilities.
“If local authorities and devolved administrations want the ability to have a serious role in policy making, they must also have to make the hard choices about how to pay for it.”
That statement was a straightforward attack on democracy. There is a correlation between regions, cities and towns that do not elect Tory councils and lower average income, (particularly in England). What Jenkinson said is that if voters continue to vote for other parties then they will suffer financially and with reduced services because the Tory government will cut central funding further.
He said “real power” should be devolved and “communities” will “reap rewards of taking prudent pro-growth decisions.” Of course, “real power” will not be devolved. Real power will remain elsewhere. Elected local administrations will not have the power to stop businesses dodging tax via offshore registration, will not have the power to unprivatise public services, will not have the power to decide on NHS, education and welfare, will not have the power to change the law and will not have the power to choose not to pay for wars and royal family.
Jenkinson wants councils to face all the costs but have none of the benefits of government. He advocates the withdrawal of central government obligations with retention of central government power. He wants to turn non-Tory voting regions of UK into colonies of Westminster with fake autonomy. It is the exact opposite of Boris Johnson’s claim of “levelling up.”
In ‘Making rhetoric a reality’ Tory MP Andrew Lewer expressed his disappointment that the majority of the British public adhered to Covid safety rules to protect their own and others’ health.
“Without strong voices and strong forces pushing back against officiousness, it very easily becomes fixed in place.”
He said “Covid-driven infringements on our liberties are at risk of outstaying their welcome” in the face of increasing numbers of infected people, in part due to a lack of restrictions on movement because of Tory government’s reckless policies.
Lewer had another concern: “I have been deeply troubled by the takeover of the Conservative Party by so-called public health experts who believe the state ought to police our diets. It wants to ban people from seeing pictures of beefburgers in online advertisements, and dictate where supermarkets place certain foods. These limit our freedom.” Tories are limiting freedom, hugely, but where the sausages are in a shop isn’t.
In ‘Remove Barriers to self-employment’ IEA director-general Mark Littlewood declared “the striking trend in working habits over recent years has been the growth of those in self-employment.” To make such an assertion required a highly developed skillset of charlatanism.
What has grown “over recent years” is insecure, underpaid gig economy work with no holiday entitlements, no guarantee of hours and no job security. Exploitative employers, erroneously and, often, illegally, classify their employees as self-employed. This con was allowed to grow by the government.
Littlewood is strongly in favour of false self-employment and is always willing to misrepresent it as advantageous to employees. “The gig economy facilitates flexible working in which workers can dial their number of hours up and down at will – and across a range of different platforms,” he said with all the well-honed confidence of an experienced conman.
He continued his disgusting abuse of logic and of language by describing the need for people to have more than one job as a “side hustle.”
“Over two million British workers already operate a ‘side hustle’ in addition to their main employment.”
Extra jobs, and extra hours, are taken due to the necessity to live and to pay the bills. They are a consequence of low wages, insecure hours and exploitative employers. Littlewood’s support for extreme exploiters requires him to present second jobs as a choice by the employee. He invented a new reality-reversal phrase: “Portfolio careers are set to be much more common.”
Having concocted his deceptive presentation, Littlewood asked for more exploitation.
“To encourage a greater entrepreneurial culture, the state should allow companies to engage a certain number of self-employed workers on a ‘no questions asked’ basis.”
“More flexible and diverse working, whereby we break up our working week and are paid by a wide range of different enterprises, is rapidly replacing the “job for life” approach.”
His final sentence demonstrated the intrinsic strategy of all libertarian think-tanks: Present exploitation as its opposite, as something assisting the exploited: “The state should remove barriers which are preventing it from happening at the speed workers desire.”
In ‘Enabling people in public services’ Tory MP Robin Millar indulged in extremist economic libertarians’ favourite mendacious presentation of public services: He observed the damaging effects of severe government cutbacks on public services and of money squandered by government on privateer invaders in public services, and he concluded that the entire ethos and concept of public services is at fault.
Millar’s conmanship was couched in surreal language of pseudo-humanism as if he had read a couple of out of context quotes from Descartes and Sartre on the back of a cereal box, muddled them up and then tried to form unobtainable coherence.
“Rewired public services must enable potential and encourage human flourishing.”
“The existing ‘social contract’ has unwittingly moved the debate [about public services’ objective] to resource and entitlement, away from nurture and mutual interest.”
His Carrollesque terminology was designed as a distraction ruse. It was a desperate attempt to create substance to his anti-society perspective. It is a common trick of libertarian communication.
As an example of what he wanted he praised Universal Credit, a system of welfare that causes starvation, destitution, debt, homelessness and death, particularly for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
“Universal Credit works on a similar principle, engaging the benefit claimant in a journey into work, giving opportunities for learning, development and recovering dignity.”
Nefarious, unashamed fascism exuded from the above quote.
To be unemployed or underpaid is not a loss of “dignity” as Millar claims. Loss of dignity is a consequence of Universal Credit’s murderous sanctions system.
His abdication of societal responsibility included asking patients to do their own healthcare.
“Consider healthcare, where the doctor assumes responsibility for diagnosis, cure and treatment. But the patient is passive. A more human approach can be seen in reforms such as social prescribing. Focused on the wellbeing of the whole person and engaging them in their treatment activates their own agency, rather than just passively accepting care.”
Millar cannot believe that “social prescribing,” whatever he meant by that, is preferable to decision making of an experienced well-trained doctor. The nonsense above is merely an expression of his and Tories’ extreme opposition to the existence of any obligation of government, of the state, to the people.
He is opposed to the role of a government in a democracy.
In ‘Release green belt for housing’ IEA’s Head of Political Economy Kristian Niemietz took a short break from his constant attacks on NHS to offer convoluted and very dishonest comments on housing.
He noted that there is a “housing crisis” that is “Britain’s most pressing social and economic problem” but he chose not mention that no social housing was built in the last decade, that council homes were sold to multi-property offshore exploitative businesses, that rent of privately owned homes is grotesquely expensive or that property ownership is an exploitative scam and is the most visible demonstration of the intrinsic nature of capitalism.
However, he admitted that younger people are not fooled by libertarian propaganda: “According to the IEA’s very own polling, four out of five Millennials (people born 1981-1996) and Zoomers (people born after 1996) blame Britain’s housing crisis on capitalism. Many of them do not simply conclude that the housing market has failed them, they conclude that capitalism as a whole has failed them.”
Niemietz’s fake solution was new houses built on “green belt land” close to “commuter railway stations.” Most such railway stations are already in residential areas, except in some rural areas well away from towns and cities. His solution was drivel.
The purpose of his contribution to 302030 was to promote a discussion that deliberately avoids acknowledging the real cause of a shortage of affordable homes in UK.
In ‘Increase energy security and supply’ Tory MP John Redwood offered no plan or policy that matched the title of his contribution.
He praised “a torrent of investment unleashed by privatisation [of energy supply]” and he bemoaned “a cat’s cradle of market interventions, subsidies and penalties” that “severely damaged this position.” Privatisation of utilities was designed by the Tories to provide free income for “owners.” Deterioration of services and rapidly increasing prices were inevitable consequence of the policy of privatisation. None of the Tories’ “market interventions, subsidies and penalties” were intended to help the public; they were just protectionism for the exploiters.
Redwood’s conclusion/solution was “encouraging private capital” “from competing private sector companies” and “needs to be market driven,” and he said there should be “a refusal to use public subsidy to distort and damage the market.” The “market” is the problem. Redwood has no interest in cost of energy to the public or the quality of a service: His sole interest is profit-making capability of “owners” of public services.
Redwood’s presentation of a reversal of reality was similar to Shanker Singham’s fraudulent justification for charter cities. Therein Singham observed the destructive effects of capitalist exploitation, he blamed an invention of “crony capitalists” and government control, and concluded what is needed is more extreme libertarian exploitation.
In ‘Consider the environmental benefits of road pricing’ Head of FMF Emma Revell continued the 302030 theme of an essay title with no connection to the essay’s intent.
She said “price-sensitive drivers” would “switch to travelling in quieter periods.” Most journeys are work related: Travelling to and from work, and travelling as part of work. These journeys cannot be reset at different times.
Revell wants road pricing to replace “the unpopular and unfair system of fuel duty.” But, road pricing would cost the driver of a fuel-efficient vehicle the same as the driver of a gas guzzler. More expensive cars tend to use more fuel per mile.
Her plan is simply a shifting of tax costs toward people with less money, but she depicted it, fraudulently, as an “environmental benefit.”
In ‘Delivering accountability for government projects’ Tory MP Lee Rowley asked that senior civil servants who work in government departments should be held accountable, including their salaries, for delivery of projects and their costs and delays.
“Make departmental Permanent Secretaries fully accountable for project delivery, including actually having their career prospects affected when projects go wrong. Senior civil service remuneration should be linked to project delivery in their own departments.”
Rowley appeared to forget that senior departmental civil servants work for ministers and that it is the latter who are responsible for success (or otherwise) and costs of projects. It is entirely up to government how much money is spent on a project.
His strategy is to pass blame for government’s lack of foresight, intelligence and planning aptitude.
As the table on page 6 of a Transparify report into think-tank donor transparency showed, IEA (and its subsidiaries FREER and FMF) keeps its financial backers secret. Alongside three other cheerleaders for public services destruction, Adam Smith Institute, Centre for Policy Studies and Policy Exchange, IEA doesn’t want the public, who are the target of its ideology, to know which tax-dodging organised international thieves and fraudsters are employing PR machines like the IEA.
Links to brief descriptions of other right-wing think-tanks and lobby groups: UK think-tanks