No, this isn’t a post about the excellent and widely-used Open Source audio editor, Audacity, but the RCP/LM front of the same name devoted to pushing the sect’s message in the area of the Built Environment (as Architecture and Planning is called these days). The RCP’s version of Audacity is a typically strident ‘campaign’, very pro-development and rabidly anti-environmentalist. A recent article by Ian Abley, on the Dale Farm issue, is entitled “Pickles plans a pogrom“. Seeing as pogroms were genocidal anti-Semitic campaigns of 19th Century Russia in which thousands died and hundreds of thousands were forced into exile, and the Dale Farm issue is to do with the eviction of a traveller camp, the article is pretty, erm, ‘disproportionate’. Ok, the author tries to redefine the word “pogrom” at the start:
Pogróm is a word with Yiddish origin, and is a Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently, to destroy, or to devastate a town”.
but then later in the article uses the commonly accepted meaning of the term:
Pogróm originally meant attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire. The first was anti-Jewish rioting in Odessa in 1821. The term “pogrom” gained common use with anti-Jewish riots across the Ukraine and southern Russia between 1881 and 1884,
and proceeds to outline in graphic detail what pogroms actually were. He then goes on to associate the Russian pogroms with the actions of Eric Pickles, the local government ‘tsar’ (sic!), against the Dale Farm Travellers. You don’t have to carry a torch for the execrable Pickles to see that associating him with violent anti-Semitic genocide (not a word the RCP/LM would use, mind, for ideological reasons) is way over the top. For all the seeming disclaimers, that’s what Abley does, but of course being RCP/LM and imbued with its virulent hatred of environmentalists he also tars them with the same brush in the article:
So Pickles is now going deeper into the green prejudice that people are sprawling over the countryside, and need to be contained. At Dale Farm he is tapping into the prejudice amongst environmentalists that large families are a problem. Many Gypsies and Travellers like to have large families, and look after each other, but their sociable culture is evidently at odds with the anti-human idea amongst greens that population growth is threatening the planet.
The word “evidently” is, of course, used without any evidence at all of environmentalists backing Pickles’ anti-Traveller campaign, being ‘backed up’ solely by the RCP’s standard anti-Green prejudice:
The anti-human prejudice is common to environmentalists,
That Greens and all sorts of Left and radical groups (for instance, the redoubtable anarchists at Schnews, and the ubiquitous Socialist Workers Party) are actively campaigning against Pickles’ plans in solidarity with the Travellers gets no mention in Abley’s rant, which also fits in with the standard RCP modus operandus which is never to ally with other groups in the same cause.
The article is illustrative of the pugnacious anti-environmentalist tone of the whole of the Audacity ‘campaign’, and is unsurprising given the prominence of the old RCP hands James Heartfield (the ‘intellectual’ in the sect going back to the earliest RCP days) and James Woudhuysen in the people behind Audacity. Indeed, the home page of the website is unequivocably anti-environmentalist.
The front has recently set up the “250 New Towns Club” initiative, and has emailed subscribers to the Institute of Ideas mailing list inviting them to join it, and to back the campaign for the High-Speed Rail link (HSR). It implicitly claims the backing of established organisations such as Shelter and the National Housing Federation for the “Club”. If these organisations are truly involved, rather than their logos simply being used as decoration, they’d do well to look closely at the background of Audacity and its personnel before committing themselves to a sect front.
An interesting post  has appeared on a blog called Necessary Agitation, which gives an insider’s view of the short life of Modern Movement, which was set up in March 2009 as a direct reaction to the success of the Plane Stupid environmentalist direct action group. MM was at best ‘strongly influenced’ by the RCP/LM, at worst another front, as this blog argued in a previous post. The post on Necessary Action is written by a progressive Marxist who supported, and still supports, cheap flying and the expansion of Heathrow airport, and not unreasonably joined MM as he shared their ostensible goals.
The article gives a good insight into how the RCP/LM manages its ‘offshoots’, and to why the MM eventually bit the dust. The poster is not unsympathetic to the Institute of Ideas:
Something which can be said of the new generation of recruits clustered around the Institute of Ideas is that they are on the whole more personable and open minded than the old RCP stalwarts. Indeed, the clique that originally banded together to form the majority of Modern Movement’s members were drawn to do so on the basis of their dissatisfaction with the present line of the continuity RCP’s leading lights—Frank Furedi, Claire Fox, etc.—and a desire for a space to stake out their own unique positions on the new issues thrown up by the 2008/09 financial crisis.
Although he does see the RCP as “a group straddling the fine line between a committed cadre and a middle class cult”, you get the feeling that he supports their general attitude. However, it appears that for all the RCP/LM’s trumpeting of “intellectual ambition and curiosity” and “open and robust debate” , intellectually speaking they operate on a pretty basic level, and in MM actively sought to lower the level of intellectual debate and suppress dissent. Not long after MM’s formation, according to the poster, it split between a “left” faction which was anti-capitalist and supportive of airline workers, and the dominant “right” faction led by the RCP/LM personalities:
In the short space of a month or two a left and a right faction of MM started to appear. Broadly speaking the rightwing leadership clique were closest to the IoI, most reverent for the traditions of the RCP, dismissive of democracy, and pro-capitalist. Conversely, the leftwing faction were more insistent on marking a break from the old formulas of the RCP, operating in a democratic fashion and taking an openly anti-capitalist line.
This split eventually brought about the movement’s dissolution:
Members of the right started to flake away, leaving the rightist leadership clique increasingly isolated. And then, suddenly, they just quit. With the scales having tilted decidedly in favour of the left the democratic decision to take an anti-capitalist message to the G20 was too much for the leadership to stomach.
The impression given fits in with other anecdotal reports of groups and events organised by the RCP/LM: that the sect tightly controls debate, is undemocratic, and is controlled by a cabal of senior figures going back to the RCP days. “Open debate” is not a feature of RCP/LM groups and events, for all Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox’s combative rhetoric on the Moral Maze and Question Time.
The closing paragraph of the post is telling and damning:
And so in a microcosm there you have a demonstration of the kind of shenanigans favoured by the post RCP. Secrecy, an aggressive ‘Leninism’ based on no respect for democracy, a tight control over ‘the message’, often at odds with the real aims. It could be added that the IoI itself reflects all these tendencies. Essentially a fringe political party in all but name, but lacking even the faintest trace of internal democracy, debate over fundamental principles or tolerance of dissent from Frank Furedi’s ideology. Evasiveness over core ideology is even promoted amongst new recruits; and as such, for all the endless show debates put on by the organization, there is next to no theoretical exposition or discussion of their central beliefs. The ‘line’ spread both inside and outside is that there is ‘no line’ and, as O’Brien tells Winston in Orwell’s 1984, 2 + 2 does equal 5.
 Institute of Ideas website home page, accessed 6/8/10
Up to now the RCP/LM has been mostly confined to London, with outposts in Edinburgh and Manchester, which given the sect’s targetting of the chattering classes and the media world is unsurprising. Just recently, though, they’re reaching into the dark fastnesses of the East Midlands, where a Prof Dennis Hayes has inaugurated a “Salon“, a posh historical reference for an outlier of the sect.
Hayes is unfamiliar to RCP Watch, and we did wonder if he was a new convert to the cause but he looks a bit too old and wizened for the sect which prefers bright young things like Ben Pile and James Panton. Wrinkly recruits aren’t worth investing effort into as they’ll soon retire and/or die off. However, it turns out, from the credits of one of Hayes’ many articles for Spiked , that he was once “head of the centre for professional education at Canterbury Christchurch University”, which reveals the connection as The Dear Leader, Uncle Frank Furedi, is of course Professor at the University of Kent at Canterbury, so they’d have been old muckers.A bit of a comedown for Hayes to go from a 3rd- to a 4th-rate university, but needs must in tight times, one supposes.
The announcement of the “Salon” includes the following chuckleworthy statement:
“Salons have attracted many progressive thinkers including Frank Furedi, Kenan Malik, Austin Williams, Jeremy Taylor, Helene Guldberg and James Woudhuysen.”
All of whom are RCP/LM stalwarts, so that nails the sects colours to the East Midlands mast. (Could you not think of any non-RCP names, Dennis?) The inaugural meeting will be on the 26th January in case anyone wants to see “progressive thinkers” in the flesh. Other names to watch out for are helpfully mentioned in the event announcement:
“The East Midlands Salon is the brainchild of University of Derby Education expert Professor Dennis Hayes, Dr Vanessa Pupavac from the University of Nottingham and a third organiser Ciaran Guilfoyle”
Guilfoyle‘s been involved in the IoI’s Culture Wars and Battle of Ideas evénements and studied Philosophy at Nottingham Uni, so an experienced RCP/LM hack. Vanessa Pupavac, though, is an unlikely sect adherent as her Uni of Nottingham staff page describes her thus:
“Dr Vanessa Pupavac is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Nottingham. She has previously worked for the UN Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia and other international organisations.”
RCP Watch wonders whether she’s aware that she’s been working with a group that “unconditionally supported” the Milosevic and Karadzic regimes during the Balkan Wars of the early 90s, and one of whose more aggressive Usenet propagandists baldly stated that “Srebrenica never happened”. And, of course, LM itself was defeated in libel court for having effectively claimed, via an article by Robert Deichmann, that photos of Serb concentration camps were faked. Perhaps she’s unaware of the historical continuity of the Institute of Ideas with the LM and RCP.
 Would you like relish with that A Level? Dennis Hayes, Spiked Online, 29/3/08
As a ‘PS’ to this post, the East Midlands ‘Salon’ is pushing the boat out with a meeting on the 23rd February at a posh hotel in Nottingham’s swanky Lace Market, featuring a Professor James Woudhuysen, described as “Professor of Forecasting and Innovation” (not an academic discipline that RCP Watch has heard of) at De Montfort University but who is also a prolific author for Spiked Online. This time punters are asked to shell out a fiver for the privilege. Details on the “Salon” Facebook page.
It looks like we have another rising star to keep an eye on in the RCP/LM firmament. Step forward Rob Killick, CEO of cScape (note the uber-cool camelCase), slogan: “A passion for online excellence” (?!? – translation welcomed from fluent speakers of SuitSpeak). cScape is the major partner in the Institute of Ideas’ forthcoming biggie Battle For Ideas conference “The Battle for the Economy“. The usual suspects, including the Dear Leader himself, Uncle Frank Furedi, and Clare “Her Master’s Voice” Fox, will be there, along with up-and-comers like Suzy Dean. It’s not hard to figure what the major lines of the ‘conference’ will be – untramelled economic growth, unrestricted capitalism, and the Culture of Fear [TM]. In the words of Rob Killick:
The UK has become a risk averse and politically stagnant country where the state is intervening constantly at every level. Is it possible for genuine innovation and change to thrive inside a society which is wedded to risk aversion,state intervention and welfarism?.
To which the RCP answer is, obviously, no, otherwise they wouldn’t ask the question. Killick writes a busy blog called UK After the Recession, which touches on a number of RCP/LM lines, in particular anti-environmentalism, with entry titles such “What’s wrong with a Green New Deal” (parts 1 and 2), and “Say no to the politics of austerity”, plus big and frequent plugs for the Battle for the Economy conference. Flavours of his thinking:
But Marx never rejected the economic growth that capitalism can bring. He understood that freedom from want was the basis of civilisation and that remains true today.(Capitalism, anti-capitalism and the G20) (a nice interpretation of Marx to chime with Uncle Frank’s, erm, idiosyncratic and certainly revisionist Marxism).
Since the collapse of the left in the 80s the sphere of ideological disputation in political life has diminished consistently.(Politicians pay the price for the recession) (also fitting in nicely with Uncle Frank’s view that the Left is dead, so the only hope left for human progress is unrestrained capitalism)
According to the reliable Sourcewatch site:
Rob Killick, also known as Rob Knight, is a partisan of the libertarian LM network. He is CEO of cScape, an internet company he co-founded with RCP activist Keith Teare  and has spoken at events organised by Spiked Online .
A search for “killick” on Spiked Online brings up a good few articles he’s written for them. A name to keep an eye on, as the sect will likely wheel him out for public appearances on radio and TV related to the economy to counter recessionary doom and gloom, and especially any calls for slower/no growth and restrictions on business. We’ll be hearing his name increasingly frequently in the future, one suspects. Perhaps the RCP/LM will try to present him as a Robert Peston alternative?
This wouldn’t be the first time that the organisation has formed and used Internet companies. In the LM days, Easynet was known as the RCP’s ISP, and according to SpinProfiles’ page on Keith Teare:
In the mid-90s, with the RCP heading more and more in its new pro-technology, pro-enterprise direction, Teare helped set up a series of internet business ventures, including Cyberia, Easynet, and Cscape. These were mostly headed by and employed other RCP-ers.
See also Sourcewatch on Keith Teare.
Sense About Science is one of the RCP/LM’s more successful and unassuming front organisations. Headed by the mild-mannered (at least on air) Tracey Brown, Sense About Science describes itself as “an independent charitable trust”, which does stretch the meaning of the word “independent” somewhat. SAS gets a lot of radio and TV airtime, and Press coverage, as it gives good copy  and publishes user-friendly guides to scientific topics that even scientifically-challenged journalists can understand. However, according to the authoritative Sourcewatch profile of her:
SAS has a very impressive list of profs and docs on its trustee board and advisory council  which lends it legitimacy and gives the impression of independence and scientific rigour (although it is notable that long-time RCP/LM inner circle member Dr Michael Fitzpatrick is among the trustees). It’s also very well-funded from a wide range of donors . Wisely, it eschews the aggressive anti-environmentalism of most other RCP/LM fronts for a more considered, softly softly approach, and consequently reaps the benefits of media respectability. A glance at the SAS website, though, shows a glaring omission: there’s nearly nothing on it about global warming, which has to rank in the top 5 of hot science topics these days. Compare this to the large Climate Change section on the website of New Scientist magazine. Why the omission? Because the RCP/LM is one of the most implacable ‘sceptics’ of climate change, as to accept that global warming is anthropogenic would necessarily conflict with the organisation’s raison d’etre, namely the promotion of unrestricted human material progress. If SAS were to pronounce on climate change it would have to repeat this hardline denial and blow its cover, as well as lose all respectability in the mainstream scientific community from which SAS draws its legitimacy. The closest SAS comes to a ‘position’ on global warming is its booklet “Making Sense of the Weather and Climate” (PDF) which has a decidedly sceptical tone, set by the contents page:
“We should distinguish between the possible effects of predicted climate change and the extreme weather that is part of the normal variability of the climate.” (emphasis in original)
On the whole, though, SAS soft-pedals climate change. It’s rather more forthright and positive about Genetically Modified crops, however. According to Sourcewatch:
“Tracey Brown is on the Stakeholder Platform of the Innogen Centre– the ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics – along with a number of other GM proponents, including Dr Andrew Cockburn of Monsanto, Phil Dale of the John Innes Centre and John Hillman of the Scottish Crop Research Institute.” 
This fondness for GM came to public attention in February 2009 following the publication of an article in the Times Higher Education magazine  which accused SAS of not disclosing that some authors of its recently-published guide Making Sense of GM (PDF) have links to the GM industry and pro-GM organisations. In her rebuttal of the article, Tracey Brown claimed that it relied on “tortuously indirect links, inaccurate information and positions many years out of date”, and described the accusations as “mischievous”. Unfortunately for SAS, Private Eye picked up the story, and found that an unpublished draft listed an author with very direct and current GM links:
“But the Eye has a copy of an unpublished draft of the guide – and it seems it wasn’t just the industry links of some of its authors that didn’t appear in the final version. One of the guide’s listed authors, Andrew Cockburn, is also missing. Who he? None other than GM giant Monsanto’s former director of scientific affairs […]”. 
Egg on face time for Tracey Brown, and a dent in SAS’s facade of scientific respectability.
SAS has a sister organisation which is also a known RCP/LM front. The Science Media Centre is headed by Fiona Fox, the sister of the redoubtable rottweiler Claire (of Moral Maze and Question Time fame) who leads the Institute of Ideas. Both the SMC and SAS go some way to remedying the RCP/LM’s long-standing scientific illiteracy, a result of its almost exclusive recruitment of bright young graduates from ‘soft’ subjects.
 The uncritical Wikipedia entry on Sense About Science references a good number of Press stories related to SAS.
 Charity guide criticised for not declaring GM interests. THE, 19/2/09.
 SAS defends GM guide. THE, 26/2/09
 Private Eye, No. 1232, p.26
Sourcewatch: Tracey Brown profile
Lobbywatch: Fiona Fox profile
Lobbywatch: Science Media Centre
Fiona Fox’s blog: On Science and the Media
Times Higher articles:
- Charity guide criticised for not declaring GM interests (the comments are even more informative than the main article)
- Reply by Tracey Brown
- Letter from Jonathan Matthews of GM Watch
- Letter from David Miller, University of Strathclyde
- Ellie Lee
- RCP/LM and Occupy
- Moral Maze triple act
- Modern Movement: an insider view
- “Unconditional support” for genocidists
- The RCP/LM reaches the East Midlands
- Another Moral Maze double act
- Swine Flu and the “Culture of Fear” [TM]
- The Moral Maze: a RCP/LM double act
- Rob Killick
- Sense About Science