The Tentacles of Tufton StreetThink Tank Alumni Handed Top Government Roles
Graduates of opaquely-funded libertarian think tanks are now scattered across Whitehall, reveals Sam Bright
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New Prime Minister Liz Truss appears determined to pursue a radical libertarian agenda, borne from the pamphlets of the ‘free market’ think tanks that have for years lined Tufton Street in the backstreets of Westminster.
The ‘Tufton Street network’ describes the clustering of these opaquely-funded organisations, the names of their donors largely unknown, that collectively lobby for small-state, low-tax economics. One of their tactics has been to cultivate sympathetic policy-makers – none more so than Truss, who has been a regular at think-tank summits for the last 12 years, since becoming an MP.
The director general of one of these groups, Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), told Politico that Truss had spoken at IEA events more than “any other politician over the past 12 years”.
Throughout her ascendancy to the top job, Truss has therefore dragged the policies of the Tufton Street network, and their thought-leaders, into the corridors of power. As Byline Times previously reported, Truss appointed a number of senior Tufton Street figures as advisors during her time as International Trade Secretary – and we further revealed that five Tufton Street figures have now been appointed as Downing Street advisors by the new Prime Minister, including her chief economic advisor and political secretary.
Byline Times has inspected the backgrounds of the special advisors that have been appointed across Truss’ new Government, finding that almost a dozen Tufton Street alumni and former staff members of other similarly controversial right-wing organisations have been appointed to senior advisory roles.
The libertarian ideologues in Downing Street are taking a hammer to Boris Johnson’s Brexit coalition, says Sam Bright
Adam Memon – Treasury
Memon was appointed as a special advisor to the Chancellor at the beginning of 2022 and appears to have retained his position under new incumbent Kwasi Kwarteng.
Memon was head of economic research at the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) from 2014 to 2015. The CPS boasts on its website that “was responsible for developing the bulk of the policy agenda that became known as Thatcherism” during the 1980s.
Ed Winfield – Health
Formerly an advisor to Thérèse Coffey during her stint as Work and Pensions Secretary, Winfield has followed the key Truss ally to her new position, as Deputy Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary.
Back in 2011, Winfield briefly served as a research assistant at the Henry Jackson Society, which is not a core member of the Tufton Street network, but is a close ideological ally and operates with similar strategies and ambitions.
James Price – Cabinet Office
The new chief of staff at the Cabinet Office, Price worked for the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) from 2016 to 2018, first as a policy analyst and then as campaigns manager. The TPA, based in 55 Tufton Street, was co-founded by Matthew Elliot – subsequently the head of the Vote Leave campaign – and says that it campaigns for “lower rates of tax” and “efficient” public services.
Hudson Roe – Foreign Office
The new chief of staff at the Foreign Office spent time in 2016 and 2017 working for Lynton Crosby’s CT Group. Crosby, the Australian-conservative political operative, has become notorious for his ‘divide and rule’ campaigns, particularly focused on fuelling ‘culture wars’ between social liberals and conservatives.
Three of Liz Truss’ Downing Street advisors formerly worked for CT Group, as did Rory Boden, who served as a consultant at CT Group until September and now advises the new chairman of the Conservative Party, Jake Berry.
Giles Dilnot – Foreign Office
Dilnot, the former BBC broadcaster, is another new hire at the Foreign Office. After leaving the broadcaster in 2016, Dilnot was hired as the head of communications for the Mayfair-based Legatum Institute, which advocates for free market economics. The Institute has been described as the “think tank of choice” for Brexiters, and has courted senior Government ministers through Shanker Singham, who led a self-styled ‘special trade commission’ for the organisation.
The Legatum Institute was founded and funded by the Legatum Group, that has invested millions in GB News.
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Victoria Hewson – Foreign Office & Northern Ireland
Until recently the counsel and head of regulatory affairs at the IEA (formerly at the Legatum Institute), Hewson is now advising the Foreign Office and the Northern Ireland Office.
Radomir Tylecote – Business
Now advising Jacob Rees-Mogg at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Tylecote was previously director of defence and security for democracy at Civitas, based in 55 Tufton Street, and a fellow of the IEA. Tylecote was also a co-founder and advisory council member of Toby Young’s Free Speech Union.
Callum Price – Levelling Up
Following on from four and a half years at the CPS, latterly as head of communications and external affairs, Price has recently been appointed as an advisor to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Price also interned at the IEA and TPA in 2017.
Price is joined in the department by Lucy Harris – formerly a Brexit Party MEP until she defected to the Conservatives in December 2019 – and Jack Airey, formerly head of housing at the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange.
Robyn Staveley – Education
A new appointment at the Department for Education, having previously served in the Cabinet Office and the Home Office, Staveley was head of communications at the CPS from 2019 to 2021.
Lauren Maher – Work and Pensions
Fellow CPS graduate Lauren Maher has now bagged a role in the Department of Work and Pensions, having worked on Liz Truss’ Conservative leadership campaign.
James Heywood – Work and Pensions
Maher is joined by Heywood, who previously served as head of welfare and opportunity at the CPS.
Danielle Boxall – Wales
A former TPA media campaign manager until September, Boxall has entered the corridors of power with an advisory job in the Wales Office.