Patrick Basham

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Patrick Basham is the founding director of the London and Washington based think tank the Democracy Institute which was set up in 2006.[1] He was also the founding director of the Social Affairs Center at Canada’s Fraser Institute, and he is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government.[2][3]

Basham worked with the Fraser Institute in a campaign against public health regulation on tobacco.[4][5] Basham has close links to the tobacco industry.[6][7][8][9][10] Basham has co-authored a number of research papers with John Luik, who has been accused of working as a tobacco lobbyist; Luik also does work for the Democracy Institute.[11]

Patrick Basham Bio, Fraser Institute
Patrick Basham The Plain Truth.png


Patrick Basham Bio, Battle of Ideas 2007

Patrick Basham was an undergraduate student in the mid 1980s, according to his foreword to Christopher Snowdon's book The Spirit Level Delusion, Basham describes the experience:

'For me, personally, Wilkinson and Pickett’s thesis (The Spirit Level) brings back vividly unpleasant memories of an undergraduate year in the mid-1980s that I spent, in part, being taught about socio-economic matters by my sociology tutor, a newly-minted Marxist feminist PhD. She had little tolerance for my ‘tax cutting equals economic growth equals more employment’ economic model, which she termed, ‘An ungodly synthesis of the worst of Reaganism and Thatcherism’ (which I thought oddly religious rhetoric for such a fanatical atheist). ‘On the contrary, Patrick,’ she would inform me, ‘you need to get over your fixation with economic growth. Rather than putting all our effort behind growing the economic pie, we should instead limit the pie to its current size, and then focus our energies on the issue of how we shall divide it up. There it was: Eighties-style socialist fundamentalism in a nutshell. Two sentences that encapsulated the British Labour Party’s economic thinking at the height of the Left’s control of the party and at the nadir of the party’s electoral relevance. Fortunately, I thought at the time, and for some time afterwards, such thinking has had its day. But I was wrong'.[12]

Basham has claimed to have a PhD from University of Cambridge on the subject of 'British and American political marketing',[13] however records show that he registered for a PhD at Cambridge in 1995,[14] submitted a thesis to the Degree Committee in 2004 which was examined that year by Jennifer Lees Marshment (then at the University of Keele[15]), returned to Basham for revision and never seen again. Cambridge confirms that Basham was 'withdrawn on 8 July 2009 without qualification'. The British Medical Journal have written to Basham 'on a number of occasions inviting him to clarify his claim to have a PhD, so far without response.'[16]

Tobacco work

Patrick Basham's name appears in a range of internal tobacco industry documents. In 1999 Patrick Basham argued that the Fraser Institute was interested in the issue of tobacco regulation to defend people's right 'to trade longevity knowingly for pleasure'.[17]

A letter from Sherry Stein of the Fraser Institute to British American Tobacco in July 2000, praises Basham's work in promoting research that argues against regulating the tobacco industry more stringently. The letter argues that:

Patrick Basham, who you met in London, has done several radio interviews and was delighted and surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to this study. The focus seems to be that smokers were cutting back and quitting on their own accord and government regulations such as smoking bans in public places, prohibition on tobacco ads, higher tobacco taxes, and warnings on packages had little to do with dropping smoking rates in Canada.[18]

In 1999 Basham commented on a press release regarding the publication of a book which attempted to play down the link between second-hand smoke and cancer. Basham argued that:

'Given the current move among Canadian municipalities, such as Victoria, to enact stringent anti-smoking bylaws, we need to look carefully at what science, not conjecture, is really telling us about the dangers of second-hand smoke'.[19]

Patrick Basham met with Adrian Payne from British American Tobacco in 2000 and following the meeting the Fraser Institute wrote to the tobacco giant asking for $50,000 worth of funding for Basham's Social Affairs Centre. They also asked for an additional $50,000 to set up a 'Centre for Studies in Risk and Regulation'. Such a centre was needed, they argued, because:

Agitators for a "zero-risk" society have become increasingly successful in advancing their cause, often basing their case on exaggerated junk science scares.[20]

In a blog posts on tobacco by Basham and John Luik no competing interests were declared. In another blog post on 'snus' tobacco, Basham stated that 'he had "no competing interests with any of the snus manufacturers"'. This has had doubt cast on it due to the Democracy Institute, the think tank to which Basham and Luik are affiliated, not being transparent about its sources of funding. The phrase 'any of the snus manufacturers' is also unclear as 'all the major tobacco companies (including Japan Tobacco International, Imperial, BAT and Philip Morris) are involved in the snus market'. Basham also does not declare that he or the Democracy Institute have previously been the recipient of funding from Imperial Tobacco and that he was the founding director of the Social Affairs Centre of the Fraser Institute which has received funding from Rothmans International and Philip Morris.[16]

BMJ article

In January 2008 Basham and John Luik had an article titled 'Is the obesity epidemic exaggerated? Yes' published in the British Medical Journal. In 2015 Spinwatch's David Miller had a reply to the two men's article published by the journal, where he highlighted some irregularities with their past and called for greater transparency on their funding and outside interests.[21][16]


Fraser Institute | Cato Institute | Democracy Institute | Spiked | Social Affairs Unit | The Free Society



Popular press, magazines articles and web publications














  1. About Us, About Us, Democracy Institute, Accessed 10-February-2010
  2. Think Tank: Biography, Patrick Basham, PBS, Accessed 10-February-2010
  3. Patrick Basham, Cato Institute website, accessed 15 Feb 2010
  4. James Repace, The Fraser Institute: Economic Think Tank or Front for the Tobacco Industry?, Non-Smokers Rights Association, Accessed 10-February-2010
  5. In Depth: Fraser Institute, The Fraser Institute at 30, The Fraser Institute, Accessed 10-February-2010
  6. Sherry Stein, Letter to Adrian Payne at British American Tobacco, 28-July-2000, Accessed through Tobacco Archives 18-February-2010
  7. Sherry Stein, Letter to Martin Broughton, 28-January-2000, Accessed through Tobacco Archives 20-February-2010
  8. Patrick Basham, Public Policy Sources, The Fraser Institute, 1-August-2000, Accessed through Tobacco Archives 20-February-2010
  9. Press Release, Media Release, The Fraser Institute, 9-April-1999, Accessed Through Tobacco Archives 18-February-2010
  10. Patrick Basham, Public Policy Sources, The Fraser Institute, 1-August-2000, Accessed through Tobacco Archives 20-February-2010
  11. Montreal Gazette, Blowing smoke, Cornwall Standard Freeholder (Ontario), 2-July-2001
  12. Patrick Basham, (2010),Foreward to The Spirit Level Delusion, Little Dice/The Democracy Institute, Accessed 14-August-2012
  13. Patrick Basham, 2007 Program, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 November 2010.
  14. University of Cambridge Faculty of Social and Political Sciences: Annual Report 2003-4, accessed 17 April 2015.
  15. Lees-Marshment J Dr. Jennifer Lees-Marshment - CV. March-2012, accessed 17 April 2015.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 David Miller and Steven Harkins Re: Is the obesity epidemic exaggerated? Yes British Medical Journal, 16 April 2015, accessed 17 April 2015.
  17. Patrick Basham, Public Policy No. 40, The Fraser Institute, 07-August-2000, Accessed 27-November-2010
  18. Sherry Stein, Letter to British American Tobacco, 28-July-2000, The Democracy Institute, Accessed 27-November-2010
  19. Canada Newswire, Are the dangers of secondhand smoke secondhand science?, Canada Newswire, 22-April-1999
  20. Michael Walker, Letter to British American Tobacco, The Fraser Institute, 19-June-2000, Accessed 27-November-2010
  21. British Medical Journal Is the obesity epidemic exaggerated? Yes, 31 January 2008, accessed 17 April 2015.