Eamonn Butler

Author and broadcaster on economics and social issues

Eamonn & Heriot-Watt Uni

Eamonn Butler (centre) with the Principal & Vice Chancellor of Heriot Watt University, Professor Steve Chapman (l) and head of the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot Watt University, Professor Keith Lumsden.

On Monday 18th June 2012, Eamonn was awarded an honorary D Litt from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. In presenting him for the degree, Professor Keith Lumsden, head of the Edinburgh Business School, described Eamonn as “following in Adam Smith’s footsteps”, and went on to say;

Dr Eamonn Butler is an economist with an MA in Economics and a PhD in Philosophy from St Andrew’s University. He is also the founder and director of the Adam Smith Institute, an influential international think-tank which designs policies to promote economic efficiency. The Institute has been ranked number one think tank in Europe and is highly regarded nationwide.

In his many publications in newspapers and magazines, in his many broadcasts on radio and television, and in his many meetings with leading politicians, Dr Butler argued for contracting out of many local government services, he argued for the privatisation of companies and utilities, he advocated internal markets in health and education. Internationally, he advised governments on economic reform, anti-corruption policies and administrative reorganisation. To support his policy recommendations, he wrote many books on the contributions made by leading free market economists including Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Adam Smith. Indeed, his goal in writing Adam Smith: A Primer, was to produce an economics book every politician could understand. Can you think of a more ambitious project than that? It is an excellent publication which I recommend enthusiastically.

But Dr Butler did not stop there. He believed the Scots had not recognised adequately the contributions Adam Smith had made and set about raising funds to erect a statue to Smith. He persuaded Edinburgh City Council to allocate a prestigious location in the High Street next to St Giles’ Cathedral and in 2008 he introduced Nobel Laureate, Professor Vernon Smith, who unveiled the noble statue. Professor George Stigler, Nobel Laureate, and an avid fan of Adam Smith as are all economists at the University of Chicago, once stated that Adam Smith was alive and well but living in Chicago! Edinburgh Business School would like to bring Adam Smith home. Three years ago Adam Smith’s residence for the last twelve years of his life, Panmure House, came on the market. We, Edinburgh Business School, purchased it. It is in sore need of renovation and currently tenders are being sought to refurbish it and establish it as a centre for economic debate and discussion. It was from this house that Adam Smith led the Scottish Enlightenment and we wish to carry on the Scottish tradition. Indeed, the MBA and Masters Degree which will be awarded today owe much to the economic ideas of Smith and reflect also the free market nature of the awards. You will not be surprised to learn that one of our leading supporters is Dr Eamonn Butler.

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