RCP/LM watch

Keeping an eye on the RCP/LM and its fronts

Bruno Waterfield

On BBC Radio 4’s flagship politics programme Any Questions on 28th May, 2016, was Bruno Waterfield, which the programme’s website disingenuously described as “Bruno Waterfield the Brussels correspondent for The Times” (the Telegraph, actually), rather ignoring his history in the RCP/LM as a founder member. He goes back a long way to the early days of the RCP, and has clearly maintained his loyalty to the sect and his cadre as he’s still a regular and highly prolific contributor to Spiked, these days as its foremost Brexit advocate (search Spiked for his name and you’ll get many tens of articles, nearly all putting the boot into Eurocrats). So if you listened to the programme and were slightly taken aback by the guy who was pro-withdrawal but not a swivel-eyed Ukipper, he’s the RCP/LM’s primary mouthpiece for their ‘Brexit with a difference’ anti-EU policy. The difference being that they hate all Leave and Remain campaigns, and as ever plough their own contrarian furrow spurning all alliances.

It’s a cert that the BBC, and its QT staff, know all of the RCP/LM lot, as the sect is assiduous and indefatigable when it comes to getting air time for its (well, Uncle Frank’s) views, so it’s not conceivable that the Beeb didn’t know about his past, yet there was no mention of yer man’s history, or even his present work with Spiked and the Institute of Ideas. At least Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox proudly acknowledges her role in the organisation, in contrast to eminences grises like Waterfield, Mick Hume and Kenan Malik who take care to hide their RCP lights behind respectable bushels.

For a brief bibliography of his oeuvre since the mid-90s, see his Powerbase page.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , | 1 Comment

The RCP/LM runs a school

A subscriber tells us that the RCP/LM has now branched out into running a school, the East London Science Academy [1], set up in 2012 by long-time sect member/supporter  David Perks, a search for whom on Spiked brings up scads of hits. He’s a little more circumspect in his personal sites, with his WordPress site being blank, and his Twitter account being “protected” for approved eyes only (which is just soooooooooo RCP, my dear). However, the always excellent Powerbase has two short but informative articles on Perks and his wee project:

Powerbase: David Perks

Powerbase: East London Science School

RCP/LM oldies, including Dennis Hayes, James Woudhuysen and Jenny Davey (aka Jenny Perks, consort of David Perks), appear on the governor and director lists, and according to Powerbase a teacher’s away day had an audience with the Great Leader himself, Uncle Frank Furedi. The School gets mentions galore in Spiked and the Institute of Ideas (sic) sites, and hosts RCP/LM recruitment events (sorry, ‘Debating Matters‘).

Plainly the sect is looking to the future and bringing fresh blood into the organisation as its middle-class middle-aged stalwarts get old and stale. The School is a secondary, with pupils in the 11-18yo age range, allowing plenty of time for them to absorb the sect’s teachings. It would be interesting to know what the syllabus on climate change is, given the organisation’s ‘idiosyncratic’ line on the issue which is rather at odds with the scientific consensus…

References

[1] The website also has an extraordinarily irritating background video, “a day in the life”, which launches full-page with a jaunty jingle-style song on when the home page is loaded, with no way of turning it off. Hence the link to the school being to an internal page, so as not to irritate our legions of loyal readers. Sack the web designer, Perksy, or did you use the RCP/LM’s pet design firm, Easynet?

July 13, 2015 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , | Leave a comment

RCP/LM and Occupy

You’d expect the RCP/LM to be instinctively against the Occupy movement, as the sect is pro-corporate, pro-capitalism, viscerally anti-Left, but most important of all always takes contrarian positions. As the Occupy movement is the darling of the Left and liberal chattering classes, the RCP/LM will naturally be against it. However, the virulence of its loathing of the Occupy movement, as made plain by the scads of polemics against Occupy on Spiked by big cheeses of the sect (the Dear Leader, Patrick Hayes, Brendan O’Neill to name a few) is extraordinary even by sect standards. The various writers accuse the protesters of being  cop narks [1], Blairite authoritarians [2], “wannabe tyrants” [3], “conformists” [4], and more, in febrile language that recalls some of the worst excesses of the RCP’s Usenet era [5]. This is pretty over the top stuff, and indicates that the Occupy movement has hit a very sore nerve indeed, such that the full polemical force of the sect’s hatred has been brought to bear.

Sectarianism reheated?

A guess as to why the sect has such a bee in its bonnet about Occupy would be that the anarchic principles of the movement bring back the old hatreds between Trots and anarchists. Anyone active in far Left politics in the 80s knows well that the Trotskyist hate hierarchy was:

  • other Trot sects
  • anarchists
  • socialists
  • liberals
  • the bourgeoisie (trailing a long way last)

The sectarian hatred was absolutely bilious, with the most outrageous libels, and regularly included threats of violence. Just a glance at the Usenet newsgroup alt.politics.socialism.trotsky, where RCP staffers used to hang out religiously as part of their duty to the sect, shows the degree of sectarian hatred that supposed ‘comrades’ have for each other. The RCP reps put the boot in with the best of them. What united all Trots, though, was a burning hatred of anarchists, a hatred going back to the Kronstadt Rebellion and beyond. The Occupy movement is essentially a form of anarchy in action, even if most participants wouldn’t call themselves anarchists, so that guarantees them the enmity of Trots and, going by Spiked’s hysterical and nonsensical abuse, ex-Trots.

Vanguardism

Perhaps another reason is that the RCP was a vanguardist party par excellence. All Trot sects believe in vanguardism to a lesser or greater degree, but the RCP took it to extremes, demanding the tightest discipline and life-sacrificing devotion of its members and supporters. Tithes on members were at least 10% of gross salary, and the sect leadership exercised close control over members’ personal lives, even to the extent of vetoing sexual partners. The RCP held a weekend school back in the mid-80s called Preparing for Power (after the party manifesto of the same name) [6] which was ridiculed at the time, seeing as the sect had at best 150 members plus a few hundred supporters (though these would be what lesser parties would call members), and had as much chance of power as the Monster Raving Loony Party.

However, the sect truly believed that a handful of dedicated revolutionaries could lead the working class into a Bolshevik-style revolution, with Uncle Frank Furedi playing Lenin. They weren’t concerned with raising working-class consciousness, as, say, the SWP were (and are), because to the RCP the working class was an unconscious mass which would follow the vanguard when the time came. The RCP concerned itself exclusively with recruiting the right sort of dedicated revolutionary to the vanguard, usually from amongst university students. [7]

So a movement which a) involves masses of ‘unconscious’ people in activism and consciousness-raising, and b) is as far from vanguardism as you could possibly get, must really, really get the goat of Uncle Frank and his followers. It’s a shame that Occupy is retreating under State repression, not just because it lit a light of hope and progress and, yes, revolution, but also because it really pissed off the RCP/LM.

References

[1] Occupy London in cahoots with coppers – Brendan O’Neill

[2] Occupy London really are Blair’s babes – Patrick Hayes

[3] The wannabe tyrants of Wall Street – Nathalie Rothschild

[4] Occupy London: a ragbag of political conformists – Brendan O’Neill

[5] For example, see the earlier blog post  “Unconditional support” for genocidists

[6] RCP manifesto on Scribd

[7] Arguably their strategy succeeded, though not in bringing about revolution but in moulding the thoughts of the influential chattering classes through the inhuman dedication of RCP/LM entryists. It’s perhaps a shame that the ‘cultural hegemony’ that they’ve striven to bring about has been around Right libertarianism and corporatism.

February 29, 2012 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Audacity

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.

May 15, 2011 Posted by | RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Modern Movement: an insider view

An interesting post [1] 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” [2], 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.

[1] “Inside Modern Movement: the anatomy of the continuity Revolutionary Communist Party“, Necessary Agitation, 4/8/10

[2] Institute of Ideas website home page, accessed 6/8/10

August 6, 2010 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“Unconditional support” for genocidists

Back from Easter holidays, and what do we see? Mick Hume, ex-editor of the much-unlamented LM magazine, robustly defending LM’s stance during the Balkan Wars by way of commemorating the libel action by ITN and the journalist Ed Vulliamy that put LM out of business (to be very quickly replaced by Spiked and IoI – it’s an ill wind, eh, guys?) [1].

In an article “Why we were right to fight”, Mick Hume (now earning a decent buck in the Murdoch Press) is unapologetic about publishing the mendacious article by Thomas Deichmann which claimed that photos of the Serb concentration camp at Trnopolje, Bosnia, were faked.

It’s worth noting that Vulliamy, unlike any of the the RCP/LM mob or Deichmann himself, was actually at the concentration camp and was there when the photos were taken, so he not unsurprisingly got a serious hump about being called a brazen liar and faker, which allegations if proven would have killed his journalistic career stone dead. Another nail in LM’s court defence was that it spurned the chance to cross-examine a doctor who’d actually been imprisoned in that very camp, so could argue very forcefully indeed that it existed [2]. That would have been an encounter worth seeing, the sect’s lawyer telling the ex-inmate that the camp was a figment of his imagination, but even the RCP/LM has limits to its chutzpah.

Of course you’d not expect Hume to be otherwise, and indeed the trial was the making of the sect as a champion of free speech and gained them an enormous amount of publicity in the liberal Press and amongst the chattering classes, which did them the power of good. [2]

“Unconditional support”

Hume does, however, come out with a brazen lie in his apologia:

LM took no side in the bloody and destructive Yugoslav civil war, apart from siding against Western intervention that we saw could only make matters worse.”

This is completely untrue, and he surely knows it. Whilst LM magazine may not have explicity supported Serb forces, the RCP/LM most definitely did as a matter of Leninist doctrine. As noted in comments to previous blog entries, tireless RCP activists on Usenet regularly called for “unconditional” support for Serbia against the West, based on Leninist ideology. One of the RCP’s gruesome twosome, the bruiser Justin Flude posting as “Big Mac”[3], wrote:

Poster: Big Mac <whop@speed.com>
Newsgroup(s): alt.politics.socialism.trotsky
Date: June 15 1998
Thread:  Nationalism:Its significance.

: Lenin understood that imperialism necessarily involves the political oppression of
:backward capitalist countries.  Therefore the struggle of the people in those countries
:against imperialism was anti-capitalist and demanded the unconditional support of
:revolutionaries.

Or again, in the same thread:

:>Why, because you participate mystically in the guilt of your bourgeois
: >government?!  Get over it, and start thinking straight.  Being critical does
: >not mean “sitting on the fence,” LM Assholes!
:
: Do you back Serbia unconditionally against the West or not?  Yes or no?

Or again, on the Srebrenica massacre:

:Which graves?  Where are they?  Why, despite all the claims of
:massacres in Srebrenica, has nobody been able to find the bodies?  Why
:do witnesses that claim to have seen the massacres give contradictory
:accounts?  Why did the Dutch troops based in the town testify that they
:saw no massacres?  Why did two successive UN reports not find any
:evidence to support the claims?  Why have the army of Western
:journalists that have reported from the region not been able find any
:evidence either?
:
:Because it never happened.

[4]

Gary Dale, the other member of the twosome, was equally as robust:

Poster: Gary Dale <gd@ee.ed.ac.uk>
Newsgroup(s): alt.politics.socialism.trotsky
Date: Nov 13 1998
Thread: Re: Nationalism:Its significance.

They were adding to the chauvinism, propaganda and demonisation that justified the presence of the West.  The character of Milosevic regime is utterly irrelevant: the issue is that the West and your government has no RIGHT to be there.  And you have no MORAL right to whine about what the Serbian government was and was not doing. Also, when push comes to shove, those who oppose oppression MUST support military victory for Serbia against foreign intervention.

More quotes abound, but you get the picture. Flude’s last quote shows the logical consequence of “unconditional support” for a regime – you have to rubbish any story critical of it, and play up any story supportive of it. So the RCP/LM regularly trashed, on Usenet and in print, stories of atrocities by Serb forces, whilst reporting uncritically stories of Croatian and Bosniak crimes [5].

But because LM was sued for libel, rather than having its claims exposed as lies resulting from their “unconditional support” of the murderous Milosevic and Karadzic regimes, it was able to turn the agenda away from their support of genocidists to Press freedom, and to pose as champions of free speech, a banner the sect continues to hold proudly to this day. Instead of being exposed as apologists for war criminals, Uncle Frank and his boys and girls came out smelling of libertarian roses, and never looked back. Truly, the libel trial was the best thing to happen to the sect, turning it from an irritation into the England-wide media phenomenon it is today.

So thanks a bundle, ITN, for throwing petrol on the smouldering embers of what was becoming a moribund sect.

[1] “Why we were right to fight“, Spiked Online, 18/3/2010

[2] Apart from being morally wrong to stifle free speech, even when it was a blatant lie, ITN and Vulliamy really shot themselves in the foot with their action. If not for the court case, the chances are that the sect wouldn’t be 1000th as influential as it is nowadays. The suit was a major strategic blunder. For background on the case, see the  Wikipedia article on the ITN v LM libel suit.

[3] One of his many aliases, but he was plainly identifiable by writing style and, more importantly, posting IP address which was always his work PC.

[4] These quotes are summarised in the thread “ITN launches libel action against LM” which appeared on the newsgroup alt.politics.socialism.trotsky on March 2, 2000.

[5] Such as the mass explulsion of ethnic Serbs from Croatia after the defeat of Serb forces.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The RCP/LM reaches the East Midlands

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 [1], 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.

[1] Would you like relish with that A Level? Dennis Hayes, Spiked Online, 29/3/08

Follow-up

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.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Another Moral Maze double act

Yep, not content with getting Fox and Malik on Radio 4’s Moral Maze as regular questioners (and frequent RCP/LM members/followers on as ‘witnesses’, including the Dear Leader himself), the sect has now got a third interrogator on the programme. Step forward James Panton, most (in)famous for his robust defence of animal experimentation and the eminence grise (“co-founder”, even) behind the reactive group Pro-Test – see the earlier post “RCP/LM at Oxford University“. He’ll be appearing on tonight’s Moral Maze on “net-based protest” with Kenan Malik, though without Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox for a change, and it’ll be interesting to see if Malik and Panton acknowledge each other as comrades/colleagues. Almost certainly not going by previous experience, as Malik and Fox have never, to RCP Watch’s knowledge, acknowledged each other as close comrades going back over two decades, so it’s doubtful that Malik will nod to his arriviste colleague Panton.

All we need now is for Fox to reappear with Malik and Panton and we’ll have 3 of a kind on the programme, leaving just one place for a full takeover of the Moral Maze. Will the RCP/LM try to slip another member in, or would that be too brazen even for them? Time will tell.

Quite what the MM producers are thinking is a mystery. Everyone and their uncle in the metropolitan meedja world knows of the RCP/LM and their members and tactics, not least because they’re guaranteed contrarians – if you want a wind-up merchant on your programme to generate controversy, the RCP/LM is an immediate goto, and they always produce the goods. Yet the MM producers have now allowed 3 RCPers to appear as interrogators, which begs the question: do they know what they’re doing, and if so do they give a monkey’s? The charitable answers would be no and yes, but chances are it’s vice versa.

Does it matter if a secretive authoritarian entryist sect takes over a crappy Radio 4 programme hardly noted for its intellectual rigour (any programme that has that reactionary thicket Melanie Phillips on has no claim to be highbrow)? Well, it is a primetime programme broadcasting to the very chattering ABC1 classes, aka ‘commentariat’, that the RCP/LM sees as its prime audience and recruiting ground, so it matters in that sense. And if you consider dishonesty and duplicity to be moral problems, it matters in that sense as well. If you’re a world-weary cynic then you’ll likely think ‘what the f*ck’ and ignore it, which might be the best move – who knows?

Links

Moral Maze on the BBC website

Pro-Test

James Panton staff page at St Johns College, Oxford University (with mugshot – tough lookin’ cuss, ain’t he?)

James Panton hagiography on the Battle of Ideas website

Shiraz Socialist blog: RCP hegemonise the Moral Maze

November 4, 2009 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Rob Killick

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:

Those of us who believe that economic growth is the basis for human freedom will have a tough task arguing against the new advocates of austerity (After the G20 – what next?)

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 [1] and has spoken at events organised by Spiked Online [2].

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.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sense About Science

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 [1] and publishes user-friendly guides to scientific topics that even scientifically-challenged journalists can understand. However,  according to the authoritative Sourcewatch profile of her:

“Tracey Brown and Frank Furedi have worked with both LM and Spiked and have also both worked with the Institute of Ideas, which has published a book co-authored by Brown: Compensation Crazy.”

SAS has a very impressive list of profs and docs on its trustee board and advisory council [2] 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 [3]. 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[6]– 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.” [4]

This fondness for GM came to public attention in February 2009 following the publication of an article in the Times Higher Education magazine [5] 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”[6]. 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 […]”. [7]

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.

References

[1] The uncritical Wikipedia entry on Sense About Science references a good number of Press stories related to SAS.

[2] Sourcewatch: Sense About Science

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] Charity guide criticised for not declaring GM interests. THE, 19/2/09.

[6] SAS defends GM guide. THE, 26/2/09

[7] Private Eye, No. 1232, p.26

Links

Sense About Science website

Sourcewatch: Tracey Brown profile

Science Media Centre website

Lobbywatch: Fiona Fox profile

Lobbywatch: Science Media Centre

Fiona Fox’s blog: On Science and the Media

Times Higher articles:

March 28, 2009 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , | 10 Comments