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.
A subscriber tells us that the RCP/LM has now branched out into running a school, the East London Science Academy , 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:
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…
 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?
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
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?
James Panton staff page at St Johns College, Oxford University (with mugshot – tough lookin’ cuss, ain’t he?)
- Bruno Waterfield
- Scientific Alliance
- The RCP/LM runs a school
- 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]