55 Tufton Street

55 Tufton Street

Background

The Westminster building located at 55 Tufton Street is home to a small but influential network of right wing think tanks including the UK climate denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The building itself is owned by Richard Smith, a businessman who owns HR Smith Group, a company that works on advanced aerospace technologies. The building was bought in 2009 by Specmat, one of Smith’s technology manufacturing companies. While he keeps a low profile, Smith is perhaps best known for flying former Prime Minister David Cameron to his home in Shobdon, Herefordshire, in 2007. Smith is associated with several of the organisations at 55 Tufton Street and also donated money to the Vote Leave campaign (once located at the same Tufton Street address).

Stance on Climate Change

The building is home to several groups which spread misinformation about climate science and work to reduce protections for the environment.

Building Residents

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), founded by former Conservative Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson. Several of GWP's members or funders are affiliated with other groups located at 55 Tufton Street.

Civitas is an educational charity and publisher specializing in health, education, welfare, and economics. Sir Alan Rudge and Lord Nigel Vinson are both trustees – Rudge is a trustee of the GWPF while Vinson is a funder of the climate denial think tank and 55 Tufton resident.  The group has been criticised by Transparify for its “opaque” operations.

TaxPayers’ Alliance is a pressure group and think tank formed in 2004 by Matthew Elliott to campaign for a low tax society. In 2016 the TaxPayers’ Alliance, along with U.S. climate science denying pressure groups the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Heritage Foundation, held a free trade event at the Conservative Party Conference. The group is also a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a climate denial organization run by the CEI.  

Business for Britain is a pro-Brexit campaign group. This organisation was an occupant of 55 Tufton Street until January 2016. Members of the group included Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Matt Ridley of the GWPF and Neil Record of the Institute of Economic Affairs  who is also a GWPF funder.

Vote Leave was the official pro-Brexit campaign group. The group was a resident of 55 Tufton street during the campaign and shortly afterwards, it is now located in another building nearby in Westminster. Members included Nigel Lawson, Matthew Elliott, Graham Stringer (GWPF member), Owen Paterson, Matt Ridley, along with prominent Conservative Party politicians Andrea Leadsom, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. GWPF and Tory donor Michael Hintze also donated to Vote Leave.

The European Foundation is a high profile Eurosceptic think tank. This group is known for publishing a 2009 report entitled “100 reasons why global warming is natural” which argues there is no proof that human influence has anything to do with climate change. The report was published around the time of the Copenhagen climate summit. Members include Richard Smith, owner of 55 Tufton Street, Matthew Elliott, Owen Paterson, former environment secretary and member of UK2020, another organisation based at 55 Tufton Street.

UK2020 is a right wing think tank set up by Owen Paterson in 2014. Among the policy recommendations the group is calling for is ‘a robust, common sense energy policy that would encourage the market to choose affordable technologies to reduce emissions’. These technologies include shale gas and small modular nuclear reactors. Matt Ridley of the GWPF and Tim Montgomerie of the New Culture Forum are policy advisors for UK2020.

The New Culture Forum is a right wing think tank working to change cultural debates they believe are dominated by “the left”. Richard Smith, Michael Gove, UK environment secretary, Matthew Elliott and Lord Vinson are all affiliated with the group.

57 Tufton Street

The building next door to 55 Tufton street also houses several other like-minded think tanks, including:

Institute of Economic Affairs is free-market think-tank and “educational charity” founded in 1955 by the late Sir Anthony Fisher and Lord Harris with the mission “to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.” Members linked to 55 Tufton street include Lord Vinson, Neil Record, and Michael Hintze.

Centre for Policy Studies is another free market think tank. Lord Vinson is the co-founder of the organisation and former director.

Institute for Free Trade is a pro-Brexit, free trade think tank launched in September 2017 by Boris Johnson and Liam Fox inside the Foreign Office. The group’s president is eurosceptic climate science denier Daniel Hannan.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons | CC2.0