“Era’s learning networks are an integral part of the Era developmental framework. Integrating individual and organisational learning Era provides a full range of ”on and off line” business learning from Gateway events through to follow up support and service, providing ‘just in time’ multi-faced learning which complex change internally in organisations requires.”

ERA 2002 Track Record

As well from the gibberish above, ERA Ltd’s self-description is that they are “an innovative, not-for-profit regeneration consultancy specialising in strategy and planning, project management and business development solutions.” They argue: “It responds to the need to balance people, government, competitiveness and inclusion. It inspires change through: rigor in analytical work, innovation in practical strategies and solutions, effectiveness in project management and delivery.” But what do they do? Who are they? Why all the ‘Third way’, New Labour PR-speak? And ‘not for profit’ — is this really the case?

The organisation can also be described as the opposite of this: a rather weary, familiar group of profit-obsessed old-timers whose strategy and planning via seemingly objective consultancies have perennially contained an underlying theme of self-enrichment. This has been disguised by their role as middle-men or mediators between, for instance, the ‘hard decisions’ of government as it bends to the dictates of big business — there is no real interest in the public other than as a lumpen mass — but its function and role in society can be indicated by an analysis of its board.  Even at a glance we will realise that this is made up of a wealthy elite at a profound remove from the reality and effects of the neo-liberalism they espouse, albeit in a masquerading rhetorical style.

Do affluent boutique consultancies inspire hope in the hearts of those whose voices they inevitably drown out and replace? What is it ERA has achieved which has not been an adjunct to the business interests of its board or advisers? Through such a biographical study coupled with wider historical, and if necassary theoretical perspectives, we will try to make some effort to understand how shifts in the structure of society can open opportunities to various elites and then how various elites take advantage or fail to take advantage of them —and indeed what they choose to ignore or distort in terms of liberation and repression, sensitiisation and desensitisation— to understand as C. Wright Mills put it “the facts of power and the ways of the powerful.”

Disarticulate the masses

It is part of the Mezzanine 2 consortium at 1 London Bridge, “a group of dynamic young companies” (they have been around for a decade or more) which includes the Community Action Network, Green-Works, Social Enterprise London, The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, TimeBank and WWF. Formerly it was with some of the aforementioned (and others including Demos, the Foreign Policy Centre and The Policy Network) who worked together as ‘The Mezzanine.’ As political lobbyists and front groups they acted in concert facilitating the influx of big business into ‘New Labour’ — CAN for instance was funded by British Gas, British Nuclear Fuels, Coca Cola and others — all wrapped up in the mufti of the third way, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Venture Philanthropy or some similar intellectual contrivance. Its list of ‘projects’ is a litany of gobble-de-gook jargon with an underlying common theme of ERA devouring money intended for the poor (European Social Fund, London Development Agency and Regional Development Agencies) over a period of years: it is a kind of middle-man for the middle-men whose activities:

“…includes the design, development, implementation, facilitation and evaluation of project management practices, management information systems, organisational structures, financial management and administration.”

In ‘Building Community Capacity for Social Enterprise’ (2000-2001) an £800K project funded by the London Development Agency, the ‘delivery’ of a “Completed report, jointly with DEMOS, looking at the future of social enterprise” leads to the “Successful recruitment of social sector beneficiaries into Community Action Network.” These two organisations used to be across the hall from ERA and had overlapping personnel. So, once again, as has become famliar (its all about who you know and being on the inside) but yet unknown, we gain a glimpse at the incestuous, fait accompli, predatory aspect of the world of ‘consultants’: ERA’s Ian Hargreaves, below, is a Demos trustee (he now runs the government’s propaganda mill) and married to CAN’s Adele Blakebrough and a former director of the LDA runs ERA. According to one of ERA’s CV type documents ‘Era’s membership of the Mezzanine Group provides a unique blend of capabilities and networking opportunities for new and existing clients.’

Other “networking opportunities” include being hired to develop the Tate Modern (ERA seems to have been hired as a fundraiser, yet make no mention of the Tate’s and ERA’s Lord Stevenson’s connection here). While it contains much to be looked at, those who benefit materially from what is promoted at the Tate, tend to be the wealthy elites who attend the Tate’s private events and those art dealers such as Charles Saatchi and Jay Joplin—who are not exactly cash starved or deprived of a place to go.  Lord Stevenson is amongst those who appear as “fundraisers” to several culturally elite organisations (really for the social connections) and he runs consultancies within consultancies (now with his sons) like Russian dolls.  These help him out and benefit from his business ventures.  Ironically rather a large amount of funds have vanished from his finacial and banking ventures.

Lord Stevenson has close contacts with English Partnerships who announced a funding package of £17.52m for the Heart of Slough regeneration scheme in February 2006.  The project aimed to regenerate land in the town centre, mainly owned by the Borough Council and Thames Valley University, mostly by selling it off as houses.

Other projects listed include the ‘HeART of Slough,’ but commerce and Mr Mobbs has seen to it that Slough has no heart, but ERA, as consultants have helped create “The Creative Hub,” the “flagship building in the Heart of Slough development”. This promised, with impressive illustrations that it would consist of  a space station-like “digital library, an ‘interactive multicultural experience’ and healthy living space.” In other words: bugger all: you’re renting a shared space in Thames Valley University with a couple of old computers.  A £3m European Equal award to disadvantaged communities was supposed to have had a major impact on the opportunities available to individuals. Where the money has gone is hard to say — consultants probably, ‘independent assessors’?  Back in 2004 even Slough Council’s minutes sounded concerned about spending the project:

The cost of the ‘Creative Hub’ element of the project was discussed and Officers reassured Members that the space would be use for performance and other
‘creative’ activities and that the figure provided to support the operation of the Hub
each year had been suggested by an Independent Assessor. The actual amount
allocated would depend on grants received.

In a ‘Private and Confidential’ document prepared by ERA for Slough Borough Council, page 5 has some ‘creative’ activities of its own: a drawing of the “The Heart of Slough Masterplan.” Even in the upbeat exaggeration of the Masterplan, the Slough Enterprise Hub is described as doing little more than:

sharing technical support through newsletters and creation of the hub web-site

Although it also claims that it will be:

providing intense and high value support and mentoring for start-up companies; utilising current academic and commercial links to identify experts within a field, who would deliver specific technical training.

Page 13 contains more promises that the web site and ‘office’ and occasional workshop will regenerate the future, and more drawings are produced, although other reports from the Council say: “The hub is currently full with 15 businesses in place.” This also adds that a description of the efforts to be seen to be helping the poor have similarly run their course:

£3million European Equal funding for work on creative initiatives with disadvantaged communities. To date more than 4,000 people have been through programmes and eight new businesses have been created.

Along with English Partnerships, Slough Borough Council say they have been working with development partners Berkeley Homes and Development Securities to deliver the scheme, the promises were that it will lead to a total investment of over £200million. In 2008, the local press noted that Berkeley Homes had not been able to agree a contract with Thames Valley University for the redevelopment of its campus, an agreement which was central to the Heart of Slough project. They have also stated that plans to provide office and residential accommodation at the multi-million pound Heart of Slough project have been hit by the collapse of the property market—thanks to Lord Stevenson and his banking collegue’s wrecklessness.

Modesty does momentarily prevail with ERA’s contribution to another regeneragtion effor: Birmingham’s East Side Development: “This is a small part of the overall regeneration of Birmingham but significant in terms of symbolism as well as redevelopment.” Anyone who starts this ‘from virtual to symbolic’ (for this they needed Castells?) routine should be paid in monopoly money. And why ”re”development: when was Birmingham a utopia?

So who are the ERA Board and advisory council? Note the term ‘special adviser’ and the references to the ODPM the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which was lovable John Prescott in this case. The OPDM also had connections to Common Purpose (which we touch on below).

The Board

Chris Webb, Director, Era Ltd and Project Director, Tribal Education CTAD;

Anna Whyatt, Whyatt has worked on major projects including the Tate Modern and the national strategy for the Film Council. From 1981 to 1994 she was Senior Assistant Director, Industry and Estates for Leeds City Council, Chief Executive of Southwark Borough Council, Chair of the Society of Metropolitan Chief Executive and a board member of the corporate lobby group Business in the Community. She has acted as Advisor to several ministers of the Blair government and was Chief Executive Economic Advisor to the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. According to Whyatt:

“Era were the originators of the Regional Policy Commission and works directly with the ODPM [Office of the Deputy Prime Minister]. It has long experience of working in national and regional development and in the development of major projects in the cultural and heritage field, including the Tate Modern and the London Thames Gateway.”

She is a ‘director’ of Creative Futures (funded by European Social Fund) and a Visiting Professor, University of East London;

Pippa Wong, Director, Era Ltd and Program Director, Tribal Education CTAD.

David Taylor, Chairman Era & Chairman, Phoenix Trust and Director DT Partnerships.

Professor John Mawson, University of Aston; Professor of Public Policy and Management, Aston Business School; Director, Economic Development, West Midlands County Council; joint Chief Executive, West Midlands Enterprise Board Limited; Chairman, West Midlands Social Economy Partnership; Professor and Head of the School of Town and Regional Planning, University of Dundee; Special Advisor to the House of Commons Environment Committee and advisory and research consultancy roles to Cabinet Office, ODPM, National Audit Office and local authority and voluntary organisations. Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute since 1981 and experience as practitioner in Scotland and West Midlands; Member, Warwick University Local Authorities Research Consortium; Chairman, West Midlands Social Economy Network; Chairman, Local Authority Research Council Initiative.

John Newbigin, Director of Corporate Affairs, Channel 4; Formerly Special Adviser to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris Smith MP— developing the “New Labour approach to the creative industries” according to one source.  Previous jobs have included working as an executive for David Puttnam’s film company Enigma (1992-97), and was also involved in setting up the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA), run by Puttnam as a ‘New Labour’ promoting programme.  Puttnam, a New Labour favourite and the lesser known Jeremy Newton, were given £200m to play with via NESTA.  The House of Commons – Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence 26/5/99, give some indication of how tightly monitored this is:

“Chairman. Could you assure us that National Debt Commissioners, of whom I have never heard before, is not another name for the Treasury?
(Mr Newton) No, I cannot.
It is actually the Treasury.
(Mr Newton) They are the Government’s representatives in holding certain types of investment on behalf of both the Government and public bodies. I would need to check in more detail to give you absolute chapter and verse on their identity.
We shall not force words out that are on the record. We shall go by nods and winks and proceed.
(Mr Newton) You are very kind.”

This conceals the fact that billions of Lottery money was (and most likely still is) simply stashed away by the government. Richard McGowan’s (1998) ‘The fifth year’,  The Lottery Promotion Company 1998 states that:

“as at October 31 1998, the balance of funds in the NLDF sat at £3.6bn. This money is held in Treasury bonds, where it serves no function other than to reduce the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement for the government.”

Back at that select committee we see the tight scrutiny that goes into allocating precious resources.

“[Question] Would I be right in assuming that your financial relationship with the National Lottery may well be ongoing in the sense that they may give you another £200 million at some time, but that you are not beholden to them, you do not have to answer to them, you are an independent trust which has been set up to paddle your own canoe?
(Lord Puttnam) Very much so.”

Just as with the Dome, because NESTA is a politically favoured project one sees the casual way that £200m gets allocated to an untested organisation while doubts remain as to whether it is a proper purpose for Lottery funds to make up for failures in the capital market its board are so enamoured of. NESTA was funded by tapping into money from the mid-week draw. It was part of the government’s New Opportunity Fund which provided money for a great deal of the New Labour think tank/consultants gathered in the Mezzanine.  Indeed Puttnam described its purpose as making a few ‘fat cats’, while Newton defined it as a merchant bank:

“One of the key things we do need to do and are beginning to do already is to work in very close partnership precisely with that venture capital industry. We are in very close conversation with… a number of the existing elements of the venture capital industry….They are extremely excited about working with NESTA to enable us to introduce to them new ideas, ideas with venture capital potential and to act as a kind of research and development arm for them. We have to make sure that we are not exploited in doing that, but if we can make that trick work, then there is a valuable bridging role that NESTA can play between the public sector driven research world and the venture capital private sector world. That is what NESTA is designed in some senses to do.”

So they handed most of their first lot of money to The Wellcome Trust which has an asset base of £13bn and an estimated expenditure in 1999/2000 of some £600 million, and is the world’s largest research charity. This, after the 1998 £600m fund which was to transform the scientific research environment within UK universities. The Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF) was set up by the DTI and the Wellcome Trust whose members dominate the board.

Wellcome of course now commission ‘art’.  Following the success of their ‘sciart’ awards in 1997 and 1998, a consortium comprising the ACE, the British Council, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Scottish Arts Council and the Wellcome Trust was formed in 1999 to continue the sciart initiative and to extend its remit. The consortium is also sponsored by NESTA.
According to ‘Spin’, Science Policy Information news, 2 August 1999, No. 415: “The House of Commons select committee on science and technology has recommended that [NESTA] must take risks in funding to succeed overall. The committee said that the government should not scrutinise short term operational cost efficiency, but look for its long term output and value for money.”

Jeremy Newton the NESTA Chief Executive was technically appointed on 1 November 1998, although previously he was ‘the interim chief executive on secondment’ with NESTA for months while he simultaneously ran the Arts Lottery Fund at the ACE, where he had worked since its inception shaping the direction of the fund. With NESTA he “will work hard to avoid waste — and cut down on red tape,” he says.  To do this you could say Jeremy took the very first part of the ACE’s Lottery ‘guidelines’: “…the need to ensure that money is distributed…for projects which promote the public good or charitable purposes and which are not intended primarily for private gain…” Decided that the stuff in between was unnecessary red tape: so ditched it, and then tagged on the bit at the very end which says: “The Council may encourage applications of particular types…It may also draw the attention of potential applicants to the existence of funds and the possibility of an application being eligible for consideration. Such actions do not constitute solicitation.”
And hey presto! you get a National Endowment.  Newton left the ACE just as a NAO report came out thus avoiding any unnecessary questions and now gets £50,000 at NESTA. The rest are on £75 a day if it is ‘spent on NESTA business’, a running joke no doubt. The funds are unlimited: the £200m will give them £10m every year. You don’t have to be Carol Vorderman to work out that’s a lot of money but she’s on the NESTA Committee anyway. 

Chris Powell (one of the Powell brothers)is now NESTA’s Chair. Formerly of the Institute of Public Policy Research think tank; The British Council’s Creative Industries Advisory Panel and Vice Chair of the Public Diplomacy Board (with Hargreaves below). Others include Sir Michael Barber the founder and first head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit,Barber was Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards,responsible for the government’s school reform programme.

Coming back to Newbigin was also Policy Adviser to Neil Kinnock, then Leader of the Labour Party (1986-92), journalist and youth worker. A trustee of the John Smith Memorial Trust which works in partnership with the British Council and the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice and is sponsored by BP, Clifford Chance, FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, KPMG, Royal Bank of Scotland, Scottish & Newcastle Plc, The Leadership Trust Foundation and Westland.

The John Smith Memorial Trust is a ‘Democracy Promotion’ outfit which includes ex-NATO George Robertson and Baroness Smith, an advisor to BP and a member of the spying firm Hakluyt. Newbigin holds their ‘Leadership Trust Weekends’ working with fellow Mezzanine and spook-riddled organisation ‘Transparency International’. Newbigin was also part of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s  ‘Building Tomorrow’ programme which included the thoughts of Tessa Jowell, Tony McNulty, Hazel Blears, Adele Blakebrough, John Walker of English Partnerships, Anna Whyatt of ERA, Matthew Taylor of the Institute for Public Policy Research —all talking to themselves about how important what they do is.

Professor John Shutt, Professor of Regional Business Development and Director of the European Regional Business & Economic Development Unit (ERBEDU), at Leeds Business School. Previously Deputy Director of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, Manchester, the local government economic think tank, and he has worked for Sheffield and Birmingham City Councils and Central Lancashire Development Corporation in the economic development, housing and planning fields.

ERA Advisory Council — The net worth society

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs on 9 September 2004. The DCA was then headed by Lord Falconer and Harriet Harman. From 1983-89 she was a Director of Business in the Community (BITC), where she helped to establish the Employers Forum in Disability and Opportunity 2000. She was seconded from the London ‘regeneration organization’, London First, to the Home Office to contribute to its work on the voluntary sector. From 1998-2001, she was chairman of East and North Hertfordshire Health Authority, and later the new Hertfordshire Health Authority.

She became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for School Standards at the DfES in 2001. From July 2002, she was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Surestart, jointly at the Department for Education and Skills and Department for Work and Pensions. She was awarded a life peerage in 1999 and became a Privy Councillor in May 2006. Ashton is married to Peter Kellner a journalist, political commentator and Chairman of the YouGov opinion polling organisation.

Manuel Castells Professor of Planning and Sociology, University of California, Castells has been an adviser to numerous international bodies including the International Labour Office, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Brazil, whose ex-president (IMF and USA-loving and exponent of the false promises of neo-liberal political/business/financial policies) Fernando Cardoso remains a friend. Citing both Alain Touraine and Daniel Bell, Castells’ key interest for most of his career has been with social movements and “post-industrial society,” or the “network society” and the power of identity and social movements.

Castells was is a founding member of and is Faculty Advisory and Council Member and his partner Emma Kiselyova is a Senior Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy (PD). This is run by ‘Walter Lippman Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science’ Geoffrey Cowan who “served the nation as director of the Voice of America” run by USAID, where he was an associate director. Chairman of Advisory Board William H. Luers had a 31-year career in the Foreign Service sits on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the East-West Institute. The USC Center on Public Diplomacy advisory board contains none other than Charles Z. Wick, the Former Director of USIA.

The centre defines Public Diplomacy thus:

Traditional definitions of public diplomacy include government-sponsored cultural, educational and informational programs, citizen exchanges and broadcasts used to promote the national interest of a country through understanding, informing, and influencing foreign audiences.

The centre’s web site offers several definitions, most of these have the ring of old fashioned US propaganda about them:

“Public diplomacy helped win the Cold War, and it has the potential to help win the war on terror;”

“Its global mission is central to foreign policy. And it remains indispensable to [national] interests, ideals and leadership role in the world;”

“To inform, engage, and influence global audiences. . . to reach out beyond foreign governments to promote better appreciation of the United States abroad, greater receptivity to U.S. policies among foreign publics and sustained access and influence in important sectors of foreign societies.”

One of USC Center’s other academics is Joseph Nye who coined the term ‘Soft Power’ (and its component ‘Neo-Liberalism) to extend the definition of PD:

“Soft power is the ability to get what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your goals. It differs from hard power, the ability to use the carrots and sticks of economic and military might to make others follow your will. Both hard and soft powers are important in the war on terrorism, but attraction is much cheaper than coercion, and an asset that needs to be nourished.”

To return to Castells, power now rests in networks: “the logic of the network is more powerful than the powers of the network.” Some readings of his work are of relevance to the activities of ERA:

“The inclusion/exclusion logic of the network “switches off . . . people and territories dubbed as irrelevant from the perspective of dominant interests” (Castells in Nyíri, 2004, p. 7). This enforces domination: “[d]omination depends . . . on the simultaneous capacity of . . . elites to articulate themselves and disarticulate the masses” […]. Groups may choose to develop their own networks with their own goals, but if they wish to interact with the dominant networks in society they must adapt to the goals of those networks.”

This work also offers a critique of Castells whereby it occludes the role of capital:

“Again, the informational mode of development appears to be autonomous of – and in fact supersedes – the capitalist material base. A meritocratic model, of course, sidesteps the social and historical process – affected by factors such as wealth, education, and social relationships – by which labor is created: of how individual workers come to be self-programmable, generic, or irrelevant. […] The true logic of the system is the logic of the networks. But this is not new. Marx wrote (quoted in Garnham, 2001, p. 240): The function fulfilled by the capitalist is no more than the function of capital – viz. the valorization of value by absorbing living labor – executed consciously and willingly. The capitalist functions only as personified capital, capital as a person, just as the worker is no more than labor personified.”

Marx, Mannheim and many others had quite subtle things to say about how labour is sold, but their is no shortage of P. T. Barnum-like trumpet blowinging in the comments on the covers of Castells’ trilogy on the information age Anthony Giddens (sitting next to Castells in ERA) claims it is not fanciful to compare the work to Max Weber’s Economy and Society. Peter Hall compares it to Marx’s Capital — well both are books. Alain Touraine calls it a 21st century classic in advance — very post modernist and thus meaningless. According to Fernando Cardoso, Castell’s friendly local neighborhood ex-president of Brazil, this is ‘a masterpiece, which discloses the logic of the system of contemporary civilisations, bringing to light the meaning of information societies.’ Others (such as van Dijk cited below) see it as mere trend spotting. For the vast majority that make up ‘contemporary civilisation’ it will remain unread for the want of the next meal.

Castells now sells mobile phones under the guise of research, as in this venture from The Annenberg Research Network on International Communication studies (also based at USC):

April 2007: Manuel Castells, Hernán Galperin and François Bar took part in a worshop [sic] on “Desarrollo Económico, Desarrollo Social y Comunicaciones Móviles en América Latina”, April 20-21, 2007, Buenos Aires. The conference was convened by Fundación Telefónica to launch an 18 month research project investigating the socio-economic impact of mobile communications in Latin America.

“Convened”? Aren’t we generously sponsoring these days? The project is run by Professor Jonathan D. Aronson who, in 1982-83 was an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, International Economist in the Office of the United states Trade Representative, working mainly on trade in services and telecom services. He was also a Transnational relations Research fellow at the center for International Affairs, Harvard University. His ‘resume‘ boasts that his work became a “starting point for telecom services for GATT negotiators during the Uruguay round negotiations.” other work recommended “using market forces to improve efficiency in world energy markets,” helped out the World Trade Organisation, the American Enterprise Institute. Early work, before he seen the light, has titles such as ‘Bankers Milk the Third World.’ From this top down position he argues for a bottom up approach.

Back in 1998 Wired magazine described Castells as:

Onetime chair of an advisory committee on the transition of the former USSR, a sometime Marxist radical libertarian who now says anarchism may be the most relevant philosophy, and a self-described obsolete social democrat, Castells will address next year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on the promise — and perils — of the network society.

Honor Chapman CBE, International Director, Jones Lang Lascelle Chapman was appointed (by Ken Livingstone) as acting Chair of the London Development Agency (LDA) in 2003. Quite a bit of ERA’s money comes from the LDA and it is noteworthy that she keeps such a close eye on, and indeed intimate relationship to the lavish expenditure on consultants which every Londoner has been calling out for all these years. Chapman is also a Consultant to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) where she has been a Partner and International Director since 1979. According to their web site JLL really developed thanks to the work of one of London’s unsung property developers, Field Marshall Hermann Göring:

“In 1945 the City of London remained devastated by the bombing and fires of World War II. With records destroyed and confusion over boundaries and ownership, JLW set about the complex task of locating the owners of small land parcels. By combining these small parcels of land and securing contracts for leasing and/or purchase, JLW was able to secure licenses for development. At the same time, it was also achieving agency appointments for large tracts of the City.”

Drawing on some of Castells’ jargon the LDA has tried to promote London as “the world’s leading knowledge economy,” the futuristic hype covering over the return of working conditions and rights to the 19th century. The innovation action plan for London covered the period 2003-2006, so it is ancient history now. It is not all just flinging money at consultants and big business — part of it was to “Encourage a culture of innovation amongst ordinary citizens”. Hey ”Mr. down-and-out on the tube at midnight” upgrade that Starbucks begging cup!

As to obtaining funds ERA have an advantage over ‘ordinary citizens’ with Chapman, in that the trends, fads, whims and scams which dictate it can be communicated via her inside knowledge (all done in the best possible taste of course) of where to catch the gravy from the dripping roast. Chairman of the London Office Review Panel, Member of the Investment Committee of the Goldsmith’s Company and Chairman of the Burlington Gardens Development Committee for the Royal Academy. She specializes in property research, business strategy and urban development. Chapman’s other board memberships include Legal and General plc, The Crown Estate, (scandal ravaged) Cardiff Bay Urban Development Corporation, a Crown Estates Commissioner and Chair of the Burlington Gardens Development Committee for the Royal Academy. Chapman has been ahead of the game — in the mid ’90’s (on ‘secondment’ from Jones Lang LaSalle ), and in tune with the money lying ready for consultants, she established the London First Centre (now called Think London) an amalgam of the LDA, big business, City of London Corporation and UK Trade and Investment (headed by Andrew Cahn). She is currently on the Board of Transport for London, Trustee of the Design Museum, she was a partner in Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners and has a number of other Advisory and Consultancy appointments.

Joanna Foster, Chair of the (now defunct) National Work-Life Forum; Chair of the Board of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre since November 2001 and has recently been reappointed by the NHS Appointments Commission until November 2008. Former appointments have included hogging the chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission; the Lloyds TSB Foundation; the Pennell Initiative for Women’s Health in Later Years and the BT Communication Forum. Foster was a Governor of Oxford Brookes University for ten years and latterly its Deputy Chair; she is now a Trustee of the Open University Foundation. She is an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda’s College in Oxford and a member of the Oxfordshire Common Purpose Advisory Committee. She was press attache at INSEAD, the international business school in Fontainebleau. She is part of the panel that created Chronicle of the Future which includes Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, James Murdoch president of News America Digital Publishing for News Corporation, Roy Hattersley, Melanie Howard Director, The Future Foundation and the Henley Centre, Robin Morgan the editor of The Sunday Times Magazine (whose staff dominate the magazine).

Gerald Frankel, Chair, Industry Forum. Frankel’s obituary (he died in 2003 according to the Guardian) states that he was one of the unsung architects of Labour’s remarkable 1997 election victory, through the Industry Forum, which he created in 1993. Frankel “built a bridge between Labour and business, and helped the party’s credibility in its weakest area.” After the 1992 election defeat Labour leader John Smith suggested Frankel join the Labour Finance and Industry Group, the LFIG was integral to re-positioning Demos along similar lines and this process was further enhanced by ERA and Demos’ Lord Stevenson below.

The Industry Forum, was a new body for Labour-business dialogue that worked as part of the lead-up to the 1997 election, through the Forum, people across industry and finance exchanged views with shadow ministers and “developed a wide range of policy”. Julia Hobsbawm, in a 2005 Diary piece in the New Statesman, states that she was a mutual friend along with with Robin Cook. David Osler in his 2002 ”Labour Party plc: New Labour as a Party of Business” mentions Frankel in connection with Hobsbawm’s ‘fund-raising’ 1000 Club.

Like rather a lot of members of ERA, Frankel has friends in the intelligence field and his business activities were related to this. According to the obituary, in the mid-1950s his microfilm enlarger attracted “An old friend, ”William Casey”, later director of the CIA,” who “was so impressed he funded a New York subsidiary with his own cash.” Casey’s CIA friend James Jesus Angleton would have been interested in the intelligence gathering capabilities (on communists and radicals) of Frankel’s little soirées. The obituary also states that with his ‘outspoken wife Dolly’, “they held endless parties filled with British and American writers, artists and movie people, including Zero Mostel, Topol, blacklisted emigré screenwriters and old friends Shirley Anne Field, Denis Norden and gold-painted Bond girl Shirley Eaton.”

He chaired the National Economic Development Office’s micrographic and computer manufacturing groups. Kenneth Baker, minister of information technology in Margaret Thatcher’s administration, inspired Frankel in 1985 to form the British Office Technology Manufacturers’ Alliance, which included ICL, BT, and arms companies Ferranti and GEC.

Professor Anthony Giddens, Director, London School of Economics; Contriver of the ‘theory of structuration’, Giddens’ work enables the theorist to ask some interesting questions about organisations in a language few can be bothered to unravel back into English. If we were to regard ERA as a social practice ordered across space and time, we might employ a recursive notion of actions constrained and enabled by structures. For instance one might count up all the money owned by Dennis Stevenson and be left wondering why, given that resources are finite, he wants more or exactly when it will be distributed — minus the expenses of a vast army of consultants — to the super-poor. ‘Reflexive monitoring’ would look at the ability of ERA, via a look at its actions, to judge their effectiveness in achieving its objectives: i.e. the personal enrichment of its board members ”or” the general enrichment of the public. Giddens offers three descriptions of structures in social systems: ”signification, legitimation”, and ”domination”.

  • Signification: ERA produces meaning (i.e. persuades councils, central government etc. to part with cash through repeating and reinforcing various buzz words based on codes, schemes and practices whereby ‘The Public’ becomes simply a word used for the vested interest of big business and so forth.
  • Legitimation: ERA produces (admittedly laughable but a workable lie in the guise of) a moral order via the naturalisation of the societal norms, values and standards of in this case neo-Liberalism and social elites. This is the job of assembling names on the board which look to the gullible like some sort of assembly of ‘trustable’ wise men — the ‘great and the good:’ hucksters, Shabbes goy, Shleppers to the rest of us.
  • Domination: This of course originates from the control of resources, in this case privileged access to information on money flows and funding priorities and how they work together, consider how the signification of a concept (e.g., the use of the word “social inclusion” in political speech) borrows from and contributes to legitimization and coordinates forms of domination (e.g., the policing on NGO’s), from which it in turn gains further force. For instance:

Era is a lead partner in the Creative Capital UK that brings together a strategic partnership between major private sector companies, leading voluntary sector organisations and not for profit organisations to work together in delivering integrated programmers to simultaneously advance the UK’s creative economy and promote social inclusion.

‘Art’ has long ago been transformed into an adjunct to some government/business CSR routine, as an ‘industry’ it produces junk art — the equivalent of junk mail — which, when a suitable price tag is applied transforms it into the product which sells all the other products. Click on the Creative Capital link in their site and an equal opportunities disclaimer comes up. How poetic: perhaps this is an example of web art, perhaps Damien Hirst designed it as a comment on the hollowness of borrowing concepts from Bordieu with a view to merging commerce and culture along the lines of Gidden’s structuration… but perhaps there is a simpler explanation.

On reading their 2002 Track Record very little of substance emerges in the form of: the “National Network of Networks for Creative Industries.”

But that which does have some money involved in it usually relates back to the interests of the board: Numerous Channel 4 initiatives (see Newbigin above), the “National Centre for Social Entrepreneurship” 2001 funded by the London Development Agency,””UK Sport” – (Client: The Mezzanine Group), “Clusters and Sectors” – (Proposal to English Partnership, board member Dennis Stevenson) or “Tate Modern” (Client – The Tate Gallery), board member Dennis Stevenson). It makes one rather giddy — like watching resources spiral down a plug hole.

Back to Giddens. He has been an advisor to Tony Blair, helping to popularizing the contradictions known as the “Third Way.” This was partly accomplished via the Mezzanine1 where ERA started alongside Demos, Foreign Policy Centre, The Policy Network, Community Action Network and others — here the Structure/Agency debate really kicks off: were paid lobby fronts ‘in it together’ with respectable ‘think tanks’? You can’t really ask these questions with Giddens around — that third way smoke screen just emerges. Is he actually Anthony Giddens?:

‘A person’s identity is not to be found in behavior, nor – important though this is – in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going. The individual’s biography, if she is to maintain regular interaction with others in the day-to-day world, cannot be wholly fictive. It must continually integrate events which occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing ‘story’ about the self.’

Giddens (or a particular narrative who keeps his money) is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Renewal, The Policy Network Policy Advisory Board of the Social Market Foundation, Institute for Public Policy Research, the Centre for the Study of Global Governance.

Professor Frank Gould, Vice Chancellor, University of East London. “Frank Gould, began to cut jobs and slash budgets” was a common refrain a few years back, as was “Frank Gould, who left the University of East London with a salary of £189,000 – 60% more than he earned the previous year” as the BBC put it.

In addition to Newham University Hospital NHS Trust he is Chairman of the North East London Workforce Development Board and was a member of the First Academic Advisory Board of the NHSU. He is also a Deputy Chairman of a children’s charity The Place2Be. While Castells generation were occupying universities for the hell of it, students and staff now do the same to save the place. But the revolting mob pick on and blame Frank, such as here from Student + Staff Occupation, University of East London, May 1998

“While bosses of the privatised utility companies have been discouraged from paying themselves at the expense of customers, Frank Gould (Vice Chancellor) and other UEL ‘fat cats’ continue to benefit at the expense of students, staff and the broader community.”

So much for the not-for-profit ERA. Even a bunch of long-haired students have noticed the problems with the hype of “the learning society” or “the Knowledge Economy,” and it would seem that Frank too has noticed, that the only people who maintain the illusion are politicians and consultants in their employ. But what with all this education, no one seems to understand why Frank is being paid so much. Even the Deputy editor of the THES Martin Ince is stumped:

“With resources across higher education under extreme pressure, it is difficult not to sympathize with poorly-funded teaching staff and cash-strapped students weighed down by loans, who will naturally be asking how these huge leaps in vice-chancellors’ pay can be justified. Students are coming out of university with five figure debts, while the people that run the institutions are presumably accumulating rather good salaries.”

Sir John Daniel of the Open University — took home £309,000, a rise of 102%. Third placed Sir John Kingman vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol got a rise of 98% to £252,000 and has since gone, Frank was way down in Fifth-place with a salary of £189,000 — a meagre 60% rise. The trick is to do it in your last year — pensions are based on your final year’s earnings. The easiest trick is to sustain the argument that lecturers and other university staff cannot have a decent pay increase this year. This is done by using a little ‘Sugar’ i.e. the words ‘you’re fired’ to anyone who counters that argument. Some clever-dick may point out that the total pay increases for vice-chancellors this year is the equivalent of nearly 1,000 new lecturers; but they are really making your point for you — i.e. who then in this meritocracy is thus rendered more valuable. A variant on this is Baroness Warwick (chief executive of Universities UK, the umbrella group of University Vice-Chancellors and Principals) almost Marie Antoinette-like ability to see nothing wrong ”whatsoever”. She said:

“Vice-chancellors’ pay is a matter for individual universities. But, clearly, universities will wish the salaries of their vice-chancellors to reflect the fact that they are successfully running multi-million pound businesses.”

A nice twist of the bureaucrat’s ‘I cannot comment on specific cases.’ Some other students have noticed something else about Frank and perhaps ERA:

“We particularly condemn Vice-Chancellor Frank Gould who is irresponsibly putting these cuts through just before his retirement and so will not have to deal with their effects, yet will be able to make huge capital out of the Stratford development programme when he begins his new career in consultancy.”

And what might they be building at the Brand–new facilities at UEL’s Docklands and Stratford Campuses — a Business School and Entrepreneurship Centre. It’s the ‘Knowledge Economy” stupid… Flicking through the brouchures for all this development one sees the need for all the euphemisms as they jump on a literally Olympian bandwagon:

“UEL is playing a leading role in the redevelopment and renewal of Thames Gateway as a pioneer of knowledge-based urban regeneration. It is the host for a new pan Thames Gateway creative and cultural industry lifelong learning network and also for KnowledgeEast, the Centre for Knowledge Exchange which is a key part of the Thames Gateway’s innovation and enterprise infrastructure. […] Knowledge Dock is one the most important knowledge exchange centres in the Gateway, […] regeneration and sustainable community development […] Knowledge Platform, a wide area database of about 1,000 different indicators for tracking trends and change in the Gateway. The Knowledge Platform […] Other areas of sustainable community expertise include […] simulation and modeling, evolutionary computing, community engagement, programme evaluation, social enterprise and volunteering, environmental technologies, renewable energy, sustainable construction and so on.”

And so on and on… Perhaps “collaborative and participative development’ is the best one: development for who? collaboration with consultants representing the people… Not that Frank wasn’t hard at at when he was in the saddle, as the Independent, put it back in 2000:

“University of East London (UEL) were bitter that they were painted as the worst in the country by the Higher Education Funding Council (Hefce). They were found to have the worst projected drop-out rates based on the records of undergraduates in recent years – 36 per cent compared with just 1 per cent at Cambridge.”

So the Knowledge Economy is a reality after all — clearly realising that qualifications entailing knowledge of your subject is a handicap, they are all dropping out to be consultants, where not knowing shit from Shinola is a positive boon.

Ian Hargreaves is the former Deputy Editor of the Financial Times and the Independent (with Martin Jacques). He oversees Demos, UnLtd, Ashoka, CAN along with ERA and other Mezzanine ‘charities’. Attended the Ditchley Foundation on 7 November 1998, writes for Prospect and is involved in the IPPR. He was recently appointed as spin doctor (post 9/11) to the British Airports Authority” and more recently as a chief spin doctor for the Foreign Office. He is also member of the Centre for European Reform (CER), a lobby group associated with the American Enterprise Institute and Atlantic Council of the United.

He actively supports a range of UK and international organisations, including Greenpeace. His partner, Adele Blakebrough is co-founder and Director of the Community Action Network now based in the Mezzanine2 along with Transparency International and Internews (recently flung out of Russia).
Initially Hargreaves worked on the Financial Times as an industrial reporter. In an 11-year spell on the FT, eventually becoming Features Editor. In 1987 he became Managing Editor, then Director, of BBC News and Current Affairs — returning to the Financial Times as Deputy Editor in 1990, before becoming Editor of the Independent in 1994. Editor of the New Statesman, 1996-98, before taking up position at Cardiff University as Director of the Centre for Journalism Studies.

In 2002, Hargreaves became Director of Corporate and Public Affairs for BAA plc and a Member of the Board of the Office of Communications (Ofcom). In March 2007 he was appointed as Senior Partner in a new executive role on the Board with responsibility for leadership of Ofcom’s engagement with European and international bodies. He was a member of the Chancellor’s Social Investment Task Force and of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust.

After the New Statesman was bought by Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour MP and businessman, he fired its editor and appointed Ian Hargreaves in his place. Hargreaves in turn fired most of the left-wingers on the staff and turned the magazine into a strong supporter of Tony Blair as Labour leader.

He is also a Director of Bioss International, yet another consultancy based in (and easily moved out of) 33 St. James’s Square. This has also been the home of Strategic Communication Laboratories. Number 33 is what is termed a ‘serviced office’: fully furnished office space with managed facilities or a ‘virtual office’, whereby the client gains a prestigious address with a business listing for a specific purpose and then vanish, rather like something from the spy films — and so is Bioss.

Sir Geoffrey Holland, Vice Chancellor, Exeter University from 1994 to 2002. A former 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Tank Regiment, between 1982 and 1994, Holland held the posts of Director, Manpower Services Commission; Permanent Secretary at the Department of Employment and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education. Some of his lab-rat experiments during this period include the Youth Training Scheme, the Restart Programme, the National Curriculum and the initiative that saw polytechnics become independent new universities. From 1998 to 2002 he was President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and was Chair of the Government’s Sustainable Development Education Panel from 1998 to 2003.

Sir Geoffrey, at least when Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University, denounced odd-ball cults. When the ‘London Church of Christ’ (not a think tank) hired Exeter for a conference, the media backlash propelled Holland to disassociate himself and his university from the “methods of recruitment and activities of the London Church of Christ… such activities are not welcome here now, during the conference, or in the future”. But they kept the money.

Holland is a Governor (along with Baroness Butler-Sloss) and Chairman of the Merchant Taylors’ Company Educational Trust (MTET) which acts as steward of the affairs of both Merchant Taylors’ & St John’s Schools. No sign of weird cults here: its website tells us:

“The Governing Body consists of: representatives of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors’ of the Fraternity of St John Baptist in the City of London.”

Well he’s going to be crying in the wilderness again there. This provides some background on Holland adding: “He wrote the Government report Young People at Work (1977) – widely regarded as a turning-point in the battle against youth unemployment.” Dieppe or Galipoli – its hard to decide which analogy is better. This sings a hymn of praise to Holland with:

“Above all, he has challenged the divide between “Academe” and “Mammon”, understanding that a post-industrial economy would increasingly prize “soft skills” and breadth rather than a narrower subject-specific expertise.”

The Fraternity of St John Baptist will tell us that Mammon is the imaginary (depending on your point of view) god of money — the divide between it and “Academe” is similarly a matter of faith — unbelievers will note that Holland’s ‘major achievements’ include overseeing the establishment of the School of Business presumably devoted to the work of Francis of Assisi. Holland is also a non-executive Director of Limia Investment Group PLC. As a god Mammon would seem somewhat omnipresent in Holland’s world — he was a member of the Government’s Committee on the Future of Higher Education (the not terribly en- “Dearing” Committee) from 1996 to 1997. This brought together representitives of Sainsbury’s, the Weir Group, Psion plc, Ulster Bank, Glaxo Wellcome plc and Brenda Dean (now dressed up as Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde) to go through the “Academe” and “Mammon” ritual. Holland is also an appointee at the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), chairs the Government’s Quality Improvement Agency for Lifelong Learning. Curiously Holland has been quoted, in an investigation into ‘What sort of people make successful vice-chancellors, and what exactly is their business?’ as inferring that people get to the top in universities because of blithe indifference, if not blithering incompetence:

“There are few sectors of our society so amateur, so apparently unconcerned, as higher education about the development of its leaders.”

Wearing out the knees of his trousers praying to Mammon, Holland calls “for a big expansion of programmes in which higher education leaders sit alongside leaders in business…” Who can we blame? This report also notes that “Stephen Bampfylde, chairman of headhunters Saxon Bampfylde Hever who are currently “scouring the world” for the next vice-chancellor of Oxford.” Saxon Bampfylde Hever also include ERA’s Lord Stevenson.

Will Hutton: You can hire Hutton for your own purposes via The London Speaker Bureau. Formerly editor of the Observer, Hutton is Chief Executive of the Industrial Society, Employment Policy Institute and The Work Foundation who do much the same ‘job’. From 1990 to 1996 he had been economics editor of the Guardian. A former stockbroker, from 1983 to 1988 Hutton was economics correspondent for BBC 2’s Newsnight. He is a member of the governing council of the Policy Studies Institute, the Institute for Political Economy and Charter 88. He is on the editorial board of New Economy and is a governor of the London School of Economics. A trustee of the Scott Trust that owns the Guardian Media Group, rapporteur of the Kok group, a member of the Design Council’s Millennium Commission and a Fellow of the Sunningdale Institute.

For the (you should get out more) Telegraph he is ‘Britain’s foremost critic of capitalism.’ Before the reader adds that the word ‘pet’ seems to have eluded the proof readers there, the Telegraph says this to point out that as “an outspoken advocate for affordable social housing. Mr Hutton’s wife heads a company called First Premise, which owns and manages dozens of commercial and residential properties in London. The company specialises in renovating rundown properties – often with the help of public grants – and then makes a profit by selling or renting them out.”

The Telegraph (former proprietor Conrad Black) added the humiliation of Ann Widdecombe’s scorn: “I have nothing against property developers. However, the word hypocrite might be useful here. Mr Hutton has displayed a typical socialist attitude – ‘do as I say, not as I do’.” Quite the socialist, Mrs Hutton, uses her maiden name for the venture, and adds that First Premise’s (thanks to the third way) spin is that it has a proud track record of regenerating areas that other developers had been unwilling to take on — otherwise known as the Rackman defense.

The Telegraph could have added that Mr Hutton sits on ERA: an organisation run by multi-millionaires who pirate social fund money for pet schemes, but we are attacking socialism here not capitalism. The Telegraph followed up with the gory details with the subtle Will Hutton is the Left-wing commentator famed for his attacks on Britain’s landlord culture … yet his family’s housing empire is a monument to the profit motive. That was all back in 2004 and it seems to have helped Hutton’s career no end.

Hutton edited ”On The Edge” with Anthony Giddens above. ”Largely” a defense of capitalism (its subtitle is a vested interest-like resigned sigh of ‘living with global capitalism’ — surely ‘dying’ ) that brought together George Soros, Manuel Castells, Paul Volcker, Jeff Faux and Larry Mishel, Vandana Shiva, Arlie Russel Hochschild, Robert Kuttner, Ulrich Beck, Richard Sennett, Polly Toynbee. With a dialogue from Tony and Will stealing the show there is no authentic debate as such other than tokenism. The argument is settled. They believe that markets are basically benevolent — a wealth creating process generating efficiencies. Yet this has not precluded the endless blather of 19th century gentlemanly capitalism recast by think tanks (funded by big business) as ‘social entrepreneurs,’ ‘conscious capitalism,’ ‘infusing corporations and businesses with spirituality’, ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR), the ‘triple bottom line’, ‘putting values first before profit’ (in your PR material) or Capitalism infused with “soul.” A discourse perversely redolent of Walter Benjamin’s “Capitalism as Religion,” written back in 1921 (and inspired by Weber), on the elective affinity between the Protestant Work Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism. Benjamin goes further than Weber: not only does capitalism have religious origins, it is a religion in and of itself:

“Capitalism is the celebration of a cult sans trêve et sans merci. There is no ‘weekday,’ no day that would not be a holiday in the terrifying sense of the unfolding of all of its sacral pomp, of the most extreme tension of the worshipper.”

Ignoring his place alongside Lord Stevenson on ERA, Hutton writes in the Guardian on Private Equity Companies in the usual contradictory/third way manner (this was before the ‘Credit Crunch’, well in between crunches really):

“This is not pro- but anti-wealth-creation. In this respect the attitude of private equity closely mimics that of the Chinese communist party. Both conceive of companies as networks of contracts between capital and labour that generate revenue streams to be manipulated by whoever has central control for personal or political advantage […] Private equity cannot be outlawed; in any case it can do a good job.”

And so too — in capitalist terms — have the Chinese communist party without capitalism. In his Guardian epistles what congregation (some community of flagellants) is Hutton talking to? And why all the dodgy analogies:

“The British middle class is operating a national, de facto closed shop, very much like the old print unions or dock workers. By ensuring that it is largely their children who win degrees, they keep hold of the entry tickets to high-status jobs.”

Sir Bryan Nicholson: and a Trustee of the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation (IASCF), a Member Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB) of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), a Senior Independent Director Education Development International plc (EDI part of the privatisation of education), a Senior Advisor Penfida LLP. In the past he has been Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Chairman Cookson Group plc, Chairman BUPA, Chairman Council of The Open University, Chairman and CEO The Post Office, Chairman Manpower Services Commission and non-executive director at GKN. A politics, philosophy and economics graduate of Oxford, his career included time at Unilever, Lucas Varity plc, the Remington division of Sperry Rand and Rank Xerox in the UK.

Now with Proudfoot Consulting which advises on Call Centres, Asset management “Though people are an organisation’s greatest assets, millions of dollars are also locked up in other items in the asset base”; clients include BP. With the Financial Reporting Council, Nicholson has the Sisyphus-like task of being the ‘regulator’ (in a de-regulated field) responsible for “promoting confidence in financial reporting and corporate governance in the UK.” Confidence seems to come and go (as do the ‘watchdogs’) as the mountain of successive ‘scandals’ — which disconnects the cycle into isolated incidents — rolls back down: Sisyphus promoted commerce too.

In 2003, Nicholson was appointed to lead a ‘super watchdog’, subsuming the defunct Accountancy Foundation, with powers to regulate the accounting industry, judge auditor objectivity, and punish inappropriate reporting and use of standards. Accountancy Age told us:

“In other words, Sir Bryan is now in charge of making sure the public and shareholders feel protected from the kind of unscrupulous accounting that went on over at Enron and the sinister shredding that took place at Andersen.”

The appointment was made by Patricia Hewitt (formerly of Arthur Andersen). This setting up of passive watchdogs/locking the stable door is the answer to everything. The Telegraph of 2005 stated that:

“Sir Bryan Nicholson, chairman of the Financial Reporting Council, yesterday said that an accounting watchdog for private companies should be set up in the wake of the scandal at MG Rover, in which four men were able to buy the business for £10 and pay themselves tens of millions of pounds.”

Nicholson added:

“Part of the duty of the Financial Reporting Council is to maintain confidence in corporate reporting. Cases like this would have the potential to undermine it.”

The Telegraph later reported that the despite three warnings that it was futile the DTI continued to pump money into the company. In interviews Nicholson promised to get tough back when he began:

“‘I think it’s a perfectly fair comment that if we cannot demonstrate that self regulation works, with certain statutory powers only to back it, then the next stage would be total statutory regulation.”

Private Equity managers are not quaking with fear at that.

CB Patel, Publisher, the Asian Voice, member of the Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) which engages in public policy and community consultation for the government. Some of the consultation exercises conducted by HFB include responses to the Home Office policy on race equality and diversity, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, QCA and Religious Education Curriculum, Home Affairs Select Committee on Terrorism and Community Relations, Ministers of Religion from Abroad and others. Patel sits on their Patrons Council comprising of prominent British Hindus. The Asian Voice organises conferences, such as that held in 2004 at the House of Commons, which focussed on the issues of Media Representation of Asians, and the launch of ”Parallel Lives? Poverty among ethnic minority groups in Britain” — at a a sumptuous reception at the House of Lords.

Steve Pound MP can often be found writing in the Asian Voice (AV). His constituency has a Gujarati population and the local ethnic newspaper is the AV. Pound has a further connection to the Labour Friends of India group and as he has said in AV “Ever at the centre of the crowd was, of course, C.B.Patel”. Another supporter of Labour Friends of India is Peter Mandelson who showed “unwavering support” at the 2003 Clement Attlee Lecture & Banquet, organised by the Labour Friends of India. Reports note that the guests included recently knighted Sir Gulam Noon, The Hinduja Brothers, Keith Vaz and Lord Swarj Paul. If that is not evidence of bad karma what is?

LFOI is funded by donations from various British Indian companies and individuals and pays MPs expenses to politicians in various business promotions. The Hindu Forum of Britain also collaborates with the Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India and the Lib-Dem Friends of India in an attempt to get suitable candidates into politics. According to Pound Tony McNulty and Barry Gardiner were the founders of the LFOI. When Tony Blair spoke at Annual LFOI Lunch in March 2005:

“Although the Prime Minister managed to chat with table companions Sonjoy Chatterjee (of ICICI Bank) and his wife Amita, Sir Gulam K Noon, Andrew Cahn of British Airways and Mr. Dadiseth of Unilever he also managed to eat most of a superb meal. Then my worst fears were realised.”

No, not the fuzz, Tony had to skip the junket and ‘raise funds’ elsewhere. A (now former director of LFOI) Vikas Pota, runs a London-based consultancy Saffron Chase, that represents such clients as Labour Friends of India as well as the Gujarat and Bengal state governments.

Stephen O’Brien, Chairman, Church Urban Fund who tell us they are a charity “resourcing grassroots activity in the poorest parts of England. Working in partnership with faith organisations at the local level, we support people who are making a difference where they live.” That is the kind of thing that needs people with a genuine knowledge of poverty for it to work, the kind of people who have lived with the poor and forsaken worldly pleasures. Thus their patron is Her Majesty the Queen and their President The Most Reverend and The Right Honourable Rowan Williams. The Chairman is Peter Doyle Governor of the Peabody Trust, previously senior Partner at poverty experts KPMG.

Lord Stevenson of Coddenham CBE, is the Chairman of ERA and the subject of a longer profile elsewhere on this web site.

Linda Tarr-Whelan, US Ambassador, UN Commission on the Status of Women;Tarr-Whelan oversees the US version of Demos.

Lord Thomas of Macclesfield: began his banking career at the National Provincial Bank (later the National Westminster) in 1962. He joined the Co-operative Bank in 1973, rising to managing director in 1988.

Lord Thomas helped to establish and lead a range of development organisations including the Northwest Business Leadership Team, Northwest Partnership, Sustainability Northwest and the National Centre for Business and Sustainability Northwest. Life presidents of the organisation include The Duke of Westminster, Sir Alan Cockshaw (chairman of English Partnerships and Chief Executive of AMEC Plc.) and Neville Chamberlain.

Sustainability Northwest (SNW) was established in 1994 to lead a millennium commission bid for regional environmental initiatives and this merged with the National Centre for Business and Sustainability in 2002. He is a member of the Lords select committees on European Affairs and also the Monetary Policy of the Bank of England 1998-99.

Further Reading

Briefing for the Hub.

Coleman, B. (2003) Gerald Frankel: New Labour’s bridge to business, The Guardian, December 1.

Kreisler, H. (2001) Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley. An interview with Castells.

United States General Accounting Office (September 2003) “U.S. Public Diplomacy: State Department Expands Efforts but Faces Significant Challenges.” Report to the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives.

“Changing Minds Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab & Muslim World,” p. 13.

United States Information Agency Alumni Association – “What public diplomacy is and is not.”

Joseph Nye (January 10, 2003) “Propaganda Isn’t the Way: Soft Power.”

Philip Taylor – Professor of International Communications and Director of the Institute of Communication Studies at the University of Leeds. Power point presentation defining public diplomacy and propaganda.

“Public Diplomacy – the German View” – Speech by Dr Albert Spiegel, Head of the Federal Foreign Office Directorate-General for Cultural Relations and Education Policy, at the British Council Staff Conference on March 18th and 19th, 2002.

Bo Grönlund (1998) ‘The Urban Question’ and ‘The Rise of the Network Society’ – Manuel Castells confronted.

Jan A.G.M. van Dijk The One-dimensional Network Society of Manuel Castells. This argues:

“According to Castells the IT-revolution is partly responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union together with other statisms, and for the rejuvenation of a more effective, flexible and hardened capitalism. The rise of new social movements is a response to the crisis of the nation, democracy, the traditional institutions of civil society and patriarchy in large parts of the world. Together these three processes are causing a new social structure ( a network society), a new economy (a global informational economy) and a new culture (a culture of ‘real virtuality’).”

Sian Best (2005) Dam nuisance, The Guardian, January 5. This covers the direction some of millions spent in ‘development’ of Cardiff Bay:

“One of the eventual major beneficiaries of the £500m of public money pumped into the 3,000 acres of derelict south Cardiff by the development corporation was Associated British Ports (ABP), owners of nearly 150 acres along the waterfront, a prime development site. When he left the Commons in 1987, Edwards joined the ABP board, while Freddie Watson, the Welsh Office civil servant he later credited with the idea of the barrage, became chief executive of Grosvenor Waterside, ABP’s property arm.”


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