The Atlantic Semantic
Demos is a fairly well-known think tank in Britain, often described by sympathetic writers in the press as some kind of left-wing organisation that formed part of an ideas factory for the New Labour administration, along with other think tanks and policy organisations such as the Institute for Public Policy Research. However, if we begin to analyse what Demos represents, in terms of identifying and describing the biographies of the people involved, together with providing a historical context for their ideas, associations and institutions, we find a complex but discernibly linked network with very strong ‘Atlanticist’ and ‘neo-liberal’ tendencies or those who seek to pander to these networks of influence. From this position of inquiry we would seek to establish an understanding of the causal relationships and the nature of the intermediary areas between government and other powerful interests in society, that think tanks can occupy. Here we can ask questions as to the nature of the effect they, and the people who passed through them have had. Here we find that we uncover an elite.
Think tanks, and those who use, them seek to occupy the intercies of the political world in contemporary Western society in some hidden or behind-the-scenes way, but the response to their activities, in terms of who runs them or funds their activities and for what ends is, for the most part, remarkably devoid of curiosity. They aim to be useful to policy makers but are often beholden to sponsors, who are usually the large corporations. The process whereby money is obtained has, in the case of Demos and other ‘Mezzanine’ organisations outlined below, been strongly linked to the process of lobbying and influence peddling so redolent of ‘New Labour’. What we are examining then is the convergence of those involved in public relations, political lobbying, public diplomacy, covert propaganda agencies within organisations defined as think tanks with a view to indicating what they suppress and promote — and why.
Although important, their role has largely been under-theorised and under-examined, but by who? Are an army of academics going to come to our rescue or are they too co-opted or looking for a sinecure? Think tanks like Demos claim to be new and engaged in the ‘Third Way’ and the ‘modernisation’ of the Left— a process largely involving the acceptance of Atlanticism and neo-liberalism —but what historical continuities can we discover here, what other drives towards these ends also tried to impact upon the left in the 1950s and 60s: what led to this type of thinking? Demos modeled itself on the influence that think tanks had on Margaret Thatcher’s government: what continuities and connections exist here and what was the nature of their influence? How does this relate to the ‘modernisation of the left’?
Think tanks have a long pedigree in shaping policy and creating a particular climate of opinion; in the post-war period we could begin with influential groups like the Mont Pelerin Society (1) at the vanguard of the neo-liberal revolution throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, and followed up by organisations such as the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), (2) the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Policy Studies and many others who began to come to greater public attention with the Thatcher era. Possibly the perception of these groups as avowedly right wing in orientation and philosophy, partially explains how Demos and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) came to be regarded as left-leaning organizations, they claim political neutrality while being products of attempts to ‘modernize’ the left and were themselves modeled on the perceived influence of the ‘Thatcher’ think tanks.
The other pages in this web site represent an attempt to broaden out the line of enquiry to describe the ‘Atlanticist’ undercurrent that has fed into how these ‘New Labour’ think tanks conceptualised themselves and delimited the nature of their line of enquiry and the purposes the bulk of their output (much of which strays into pseudo-intellectualism) actually served. Another aspect of the analysis is to use an examination of the connections between Demos and the traditional neo-liberal think tanks, corporate lobby groups and state and intelligence agencies to outline the confluence of this network and its effects. It suggests among other things that Demos was funded and advised by large corporations and their PR operatives, incorporated key players from ‘Thatcherite’ think tanks, the political ‘left’ (in name only — particularly the ‘New Times’ faction of the Communist Party of Great Britain and elite groups within the Labour party around the Labour Finance and Industry Group) and that this network — together with other organisations working in concert as an organisation called ‘The Mezzanine’) played a role in the attempt to draw the teeth of the Labour movement (3) and turn the Labour Party into a party of big business. (4)
Crazier and Crozier
If we go back to the mid-1980s in an attempt to contextualise these ideas, then we should note that one aspect conditioning the response of the US and UK governments to the perceived threat from the left was that supposedly posed by the Labour Party policy of unilateral disarmament and the percieved influence of the far-Left in councils in certain parts of the country. This was viewed through a peculiar ideological optic still firmly rooted in cold war paranoia.
A passage in the MI6 and CIA operative Brian Crozier’s memoir Free Agent offers us a starting point for a study of the generation and development of covert projects against the British left from the mid 1980s and the role of the US therein. Crozier reports being summoned to Heathrow Airport for an important meeting with a prominent financier, well known in conservative political circles, on 27 February 1985. The financier was fresh from a dinner the previous evening at Chequers with Mrs Thatcher, Keith Joseph and another US-based ‘tycoon’. “The theme for the discussion”, reports Crozier:
was neither the Soviet threat … nor the state of the economy, nor a general election. It was an insidious domestic problem: the challenge to the government of the self-styled ‘People’s Republics’ in the Greater London council and a number of municipal councils.(5)
Mrs Thatcher wanted to take out full-page advertisements in the press warning of what she imagined to be internal subversion. The financier had other ideas: “What was needed was a full counter-subversion programme, using the enemies’ own methods. There was only one man capable of helping such a programme with his existing organisation. And he named me”, reports Crozier, also adding that he was scheduled to meet the prime minister the next day in any case, and at the meeting she explained that she was “turning to the private sector for help” because her plan to carry out counter-subversion activities from within government had been blocked. The ‘great financier’ proposed a ‘suitably substantial budget’ which would be made up of contributions by four business ‘tycoons’. This was a natural business opportunity for Crozier and his fellow cold warriors in the Marcusian sense of the ‘permanent enemy’ — his “existing organisation” is explored elsewhere on this site, but by this time it had attracted some adverse publicity and in some respects had developed into (or was superseded by or augmented with) the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies funded by the Heritage Foundation with the intention of shaping and influencing the political ladscape in the UK.
The problem of what to do about the left in the United Kingdom had already been of concern in the White House. Reagan took the first formal step to create a propaganda bureaucracy on January 14, 1983, by signing National Security Decision Directive 77, entitled “Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security.” I will explore this in more depth in an entry on Charles Z. Wick and David Abshire.
Rewind nearly two years from Crozier’s meeting, and we find the first known mention of the concept of a ‘successor generation’, at a meeting again motivated by the rising anti-US feeling represented in the campaign against the siting of Cruise and Pershing missiles. Reagan, wary of the security of US military bases in Europe and of growing anti-Americanism, was reactivating cold war networks. (6) The US ambassador to Ireland, Peter Dailey, was recalled and tasked with developing a strategy to defeat the opposition. The meeting, on 21 March 1983, was intended to recruit ‘private sector donors’ to help. Present at the meeting, according to declassified National Security Council papers, were President Reagan, James Goldsmith (US-based financier and a close acquaintance of Crozier’s), Rupert Murdoch and George Gallup, as well as the US Information Agency’s Charles Z. Wick.
“the first session with donors and Charlie [Wick] has focused this meeting specifically on our needs in Europe … I do not know whether the group assembled on March 21 will serve as the core for a large funding effort which could support the “National Endowment for Democracy” or whether the group, by background and interest, will remain focused on Europe. The problems of European public opinion, however, are sufficiently great that this is enough of a task to take on at this time.”(7)
They intended to promote a pro-American orientation amongst key opinion formers in Britain. Reagan told the meeting that ‘a special concern will be the successor generations … who will have to work together on defense and security issues’.(8) Two years later, in 1985, the first meeting of the ‘British American Project for the Successor Generation‘ (BAP) took place. This brought together ’24 Americans and 24 Britons aged between 28 and 40 who by virtue of their present accomplishments had given indication that, in the succeeding generation, they would be leaders in their country and perhaps internationally’. (9) BAP’s Atlanticist ‘Successor Generation’ would engage future leaders of the left and right in a new special relationship, in order to shape their thinking and sentiment towards the world’s superpower. Implicit in Tom Easton’s analysis is that these moves tapped into older establishment anti-left networks: for example, those who had previously worked under the rubric of the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) and the British Information Research Department (IRD),(10) and this is explored elsewhere on this site with a view to demonstrating a continuity, the intelligence connections and the similarities of approach.
Crozier — who had been involved in the setting up of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) (which succeeded in splitting the left vote in the 1983 and 1987 UK general elections and is also discussed by Easton in this context) – was commissioned by the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, to engage in less sophisticated subversive operations against prominent opponents of Conservative government policy, ranging from supporters of nuclear free zones to Ken Livingstone, the Greater London Council, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and the leadership of Militant. (11) A record of this remains, in the form of a propaganda publication attacking socialism, co-authored with his friend Arthur Seldon of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). (12) A few years later Seldon would join Demos and sit on the board beside the CPGB’s Martin Jacques, whom Seldon and the lEA had previously regarded as a subversive funded and directed by the Soviets.
Crozier’s projects against the left seem complementary to those overseen by Conservative minister Michael HeseItine, which focused on CND, the scale of which is only now emerging. (13) Anti-left moves were also escalating within the Labour Party as the 1980s drew to a close: openly against Militant and under the cover of ‘modernisation’ in the formation of the Institute for Public Policy Research, BAP, the Atlantic Council and the Labour Finance and Industry Group (LFIG). Peter Mandelson, perhaps New Labour’s pre-eminent political fixer and manipulator, was a key figure in these networks and was then working with the consultancy Specialist Research Unit (SRU) which was run by Dennis Stevenson also involved with BAP and Demos and other Atlanticist organisations.(14) A profile of Stevenson is presented opposite.
My focus here is on the’ Atlanticist’ connections within Demos and its satellite organisations that formed the company ‘The Mezzanine‘, named after the open-plan office complex in central London which they all shared. I would argue that the key to a fuller understanding of the emergence of New Labour requires some understanding of the interplay between the various proxy forces that sought to legitimise New Labour’s facade. One way of doing this is to examine the microcosm of organisations based around Demos in the Mezzanine. Rather unusually, all the groups who sublet office space (squeezed in below and above two floors used by government departments, opposite the headquarters of Shell, a major Demos funder) were members of the Mezzanine trading company. It appears that all these organisations worked in concert.
At one level the nexus of New Labour connections knotted together in the Mezzanine looks very much like a revival of the CCF network. There appears to be a certain continuity from the Marshall Plan of the 1940s, to CIA involvement with Labour politics in the 1950s and 1960s, to the Social Democratic Party breakaway in the early 1980s, through to New Labour’s pro-American tendency today. The argument is that this is part of a long-term process of influencing and undermining the British left in the interests of US foreign policy, and ultimately US capital. Those surprised by the loyalty of Blair to the Bush gang after 9/11 might be interested in some of the backstory outlined here.
The CV of Demos’s founder, Geoff Mulgan, doesn’t mention his membership of BAP in 1996, nor whether he was a member of Militant;(15) nor does it clarify what his position was in organising the ‘Red Wedge’ showbiz publicity stunt for the Labour Party.(16) This is now seen as having been created outside the Labour Party Young Socialists, precisely because they were dominated by Militant and were openly hostile to the Labour Party leadership. (17) Peter Mandelson (who joined BAP in 1988) has confessed: ‘
All this stuff was born when I was communications director, when I really was chasing Militant, when I really was being thrown into battle against the Benns and the Livingstones and the Derek Hattons of this world.’(18)
Mandelson has continued this anti-left mission with his think tank the Policy Network, also based in the Mezzanine, which has links to US ‘third-way’ organisations. ‘Mandelson said he would be using the Network’s high profile platform to launch an attack on the policies of the anti-globalisation protesters.’ (19) The Policy Network includes many of Blair’s inner circle: Lord Adonis, Roger Liddle, Adair Turner, Philip Gould and Anthony Giddens.(20)
A kind of idle dehumanisation has marked Mulgan’s output at Demos. He invented the term ‘underwolves’ to demonise young people ‘disconnected from society’ who increasingly ‘threaten the social order’, updating Charles Murray‘s work on ‘the underclass’, which distinguished between a ‘deserving’ and an ‘undeserving’ poor, falsely justifying the withdrawal of state provision. This was the beginning of Demos’s interest in ‘social exclusion’.(21)
From 1990 to 1992 Mulgan was special adviser to Gordon Brown when he was shadow Trade and Industry secretary. (22) Mulgan described himself as ‘the Clinton campaign’s link to Labour, which involved lots of telephone calls with the Americans’. How these contacts came into existence is unspecified. (23) Mulgan was part of a 1995 ‘secret committee’ led by Peter Mandelson ‘to examine policy changes, (24) that were central to the modernisation of the Labour Party. This group met at Westminster on alternate Fridays. Set up just before Blair flew to meet Rupert Murdoch in 1995, it was officially described as a group of outside experts ‘helping to write sections of speeches and background papers’ for the Labour leader. Some senior MPs noticed that this committee was actually an exclusive policy-making forum — among those notably excluded were Gordon Brown and Robin Cook. The group contained no MPs, preferring Roger Liddle (then City economist, sometime lobbyist, later special adviser to Blair as prime minister and now serving in the European Commission in Brussels, working for Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson), Derek Scott (both former SDP members), Patricia Hewitt (then at global accounting firm Andersens) and television producer Michael Wills (later a Labour MP). It was here that Blair was urged by Mandelson and Liddle to use the SDP, which they described as ‘broadly based and free from special interests’, (25) as a party model. Both Scott and Mulgan would later accompany Blair on the first big government jaunt to the United States in February 1998.(26)
Mulgan’s eventual government appointment to the prime minister’s Policy Unit converted Demos’s experiments into new shibboleths surrounding social exclusion, welfare to work, the family, the voluntary sector and other issues dealing with the poor. The appointment was attacked by the Tories as an example of ‘cronyism’ and the creeping politicisation of the civil service under Labour. (27) Mulgan, as director of the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) at the Cabinet Office and then director of Blair’s Forward Strategy Unit in Number 10, was one of the first New Labour appointees to cross the line from political adviser to fully-fledged civil servant.
Mulgan is also a trustee of the Political Quarterly (with Richard Holme of BAP), Green Alliance (part of Rio Tinto’s greenwash) and Prospect magazine. There is an American Demos and an American Prospect magazine (with the CCF’s Daniel Bell on board). Mulgan’s book Connexity cites Bell’s The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism as its guiding light. The former director of the CIA-funded New Leader, Bell, in The End of Ideology, held that Marxist theories of class struggle were redundant since economic affluence had made the working class indistinguishable from the middle class. (28) This was during the Vietnam War.
Mulgan’s precise role is as opaque and ambiguous as his writings. As Demos’s ‘policy entrepreneur’, he pushed various ideas into Labour to aid in the concoction of an artificial intellectual consensus around certain key issues. His use and promotion of the ‘end of ideology’ dictum mimics the 19S0s cold war in that it is centred on manipulating existing viewpoints of the left rather than the creation of new ones.(29)
Demos imported a range of (mostly American) pro-market fads, such as the US Communitarian movement, but reached new lows of propaganda with Philip Bobbitt (LBJ’s nephew) at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) on 2S July 2002, who argued that war ‘was inevitable’. Bobbitt is a key figure in the US planning elite. He was Reagan’s legal counsel from 1980 to 1981, was on the Select Committee on secret military assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan ‘opposition’ from 1987 to 1988 and was director for intelligence at the NSC from 1997 to 1998. He is a member of the Commission on the Continuity of Government, and director for intelligence, senior director for critical infrastructure and senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council.(30)
‘…SINISTER POLITICAL ENDS’
A key stage in the development of Demos occurred with the involvement of Tim Pendry, who was paid by the Labour Finance and Industry Group (LFIG) to help Mulgan advance Demos along specific lines:
The solution was simple: to reposition the think-tank towards the people with the spare money and the motivation to invest as ‘insurance’ for the future. I might easily lay claim to the invention of ‘public/private partnership’ ideology to achieve this; but, in fact, it was a logical outgrowth of the ‘New Times’ model. I, therefore, advised the creation of an Advisory Board (as ideological cover) with 50% private and 50% public sector participants and the targets were then found to meet the revised ideological need. These targets were to be reassured by the company they kept and by modern design and management methods and then asked to support a ‘non-political’ ideas programme for the modernisation of the Left.(31)
Pendry adds that Demos and the other organisations it shared offices with in the Mezzanine were ‘used’ for ‘much more sinister political ends’ by what he terms the ‘centralist national security state’.(32)
In 1993 the Demos advisory board included three key figures from the Institute for Economic Affairs (lEA). The late Arthur Seldon was vice-president of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS), past presidents of which have included von Hayek and Milton Friedman. The MPS was instrumental in launching the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank founded by the Coors family. Seldon also advised the Independent Institute, a business lobby exposed in the New York Times as an over-energetic proponent of Microsoft’s cause during its anti-trust trial. Leaked internal Institute documents showed that Microsoft secretly contributed $203,217 during 1999, specifically funding lobbying.(33)
Seldon was also a member of the Israel Centre for Social and Economic Progress (lCSEP), which was run by Daniel Doran, a former Israeli intelligence officer and special consultant to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv in 1957, and a Mont Pelerin member. The US ICSEP board includes Irving Kristol, while the UK ICSEP has Sir Stanley Kalms (treasurer of the Conservative Party between 2001 and 2003), Lord Harris (lEA and MPS), Lord Young (British Telecom, Cable and Wireless, and British Aerospace), Sir Sigmund Strnberg and Sir Ronald Cohen (who each donated £100,000 to the Labour Party in 2001) (34) and Gerald Ronson, the convicted fraudster.(35)
Seldon had further right-wing connections, with the Adam Smith Institute and the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). As recently as June 2000 the lEA hosted the ‘Aims of Industry Free Enterprise Awards’, with Aims’ Sir Nigel Mobbs. Seldon was on the Advisory Council of the Libertarian Alliance whose journal Free Life describes Demos as part of ‘[a] cavalry of Trojan horses within the citadel of leftism. The intellectual agenda is served up in a left wing manner, laced with left wing cliches and verbal gestures, but underneath all the agenda is very nearly identical to that of the Thatcherites.’(36)
As well as co-authoring Socialism Explained with Brian Crozier, Seldon also edited The Radical, founded in 1988 by Stephen Haseler and Neville Sandelson (who was initially a very right-wing Labour MP before becoming one of the founding members of the SDP, supporting Thatcher’s radicalism and the anti-subversion lobby). (37) Haseler has also written for Demos (and worked for the Greater London Council (GLC)). Haseler worked for the ‘left face’ of the US National Strategy Information Center (NSIC) which funded Brian Crozier and was at the centre of a vast network of anti-communism and front organizations; his involvement illustrates a continuity with previous CIA relations with Labour. Haseler also worked with Roy and Joe Godson, who, in the 1970s, through the Atlantic Council, had set up the Labour Committee for Transatlantic Understanding, now called the Trade Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding, which incorporates Peace Through NATO, the group that had been central to Michael Heseltine’s MoD campaign against CND in the early 1980s.(38)
The second IEA figure to join Demos was Sir Douglas Hague, also involved with the CPS and a former member of the 1981 ‘Policy Unit’, which provided the basis for Conservative Party strategy up until 1989. Hague was a member of the International Economic Association, founded in 1950, which organises events such as the Wilton Park conferences of the British Foreign Office and the AngloAmerican get-togethers at Ditchley Park (just about everybody mentioned here is a member of the Ditchley Foundation). He also has connections with the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), and with Arthur Seldon spoke at their ‘Open Society’, alongside Patricia Hewitt and disgraced lobbyist Derek Draper (who led a ‘Next Generation Group’ (BAP) recruitment meeting in the House of Commons).(39)
Graham Mather is the third Demos and lEA director. Founder of the European Policy Forum, Mather had no problem with the lEA’s game ‘to get government out of providing schools and hospitals, cut taxes and give vouchers to the poor’. (40) His resignation from the IEA in 1992 came after several months of infighting between Mather, Lord Harris and Seldon following Thatcher’s removal from power by Tory MPs. As the result of targeted leaks, the Charity Commission investigated the lEA’s charitable status, claiming it was covertly acting as a political organisation. Embarrassed patrons at the time included the govern.or of the Bank of England and the chairman of the Stock Exchange. The IEA offshoot Civitas also occupied an office in the Mezzanine.
Mather came to prominence as head of policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD). His principle interest is ‘the advance of markets into government itself.’ (41) Mather sees himself as part of a ‘priesthood of believers in the market’, pushing a libertarian right ideology against the ‘threat … from socialism’, and has found a spiritual home in Demos. (42) In 1990 it was noted that the IPPR’s Patricia Hewitt felt a common cause with Mather:
There is even, between the rival think tanks, agreement on the part of the new agenda… That has reached the point where the lEA and IPPR are planning a joint seminar … ‘It is not’, Mr Mather says, ‘a consensus on solutions. But there is a consensus on objectives: Patricia Hewitt says: ‘We may even be able to agree on some of the methods.’(43)
LORD SNOOTY AND HIS CHUMS
Another key figure on the early Demos board of directors was Lord Dennis Stevenson. A multimillionaire banker and management consultant and a key figure in BAP, Stevenson has been chairman of numerous companies, notably Manpower Inc, whose board member Rozanne L. Ridgway was president of the Atlantic Council of the United States (a vehicle for supporting NATO) and a director of Boeing, as well as being a member of the elite policy-planning groups the Brookings Institution and the George C. Marshall Foundation. Recruitment is a key aspect of Stevenson’s work. As chairman of the media group Pearson, which owns the Financial Times and The Economist, he placed Marjorie Scardino (again of the Atlantic Council of the United States) as chief executive. Stevenson says he first met Mulgan when he was giving a talk to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York. Stevenson recruited Peter Mandelson for his secretive consultancy SRU in 1990, in between Mandelson’s time as Labour’s communications director and his election as an MP. Stevenson was an under-recognised gateway for big business access to New Labour, saying that ‘Blair has involved businessmen to a huge extent… In fact he has almost delegated power to them, I think there is a legitimate question about the extent to which that is actually right.'(44)
The Sunday Times also reported that Stevenson ‘helped to fill the posts’ and states that the ‘Rebranding Britain’ exercise, intended to give a New Labour makeover to British identity, was a distraction from the influx of big business into the government’s ‘taskforces’. (45) Stevenson moves easily between corporate power-broking and social policy think tanks that provide seemingly informal initiatives exploiting the ambiguous terrain between state and private sector. He attended the 1995 Bilderberg globalist conference meeting and remained on the Demos advisory panel until 2004.
Stevenson’s involvement with Demos also brought in Martin Taylor, general secretary of the annual Bilderberg conference.(46) Among other activities, Taylor chaired the IPPR’s expert commission on. Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Critics noted that the IPPR’s report amounted to a friendly warning to the government to start privatising health and education provision in ways that do not galvanise public opposition. (47) In an appearance before the Select Committee on Public Administration, Taylor enthusiastically stated (until interrupted by Lord Hollick, also Demos) that , [a]ny intelligent government would long to be free of the incubus of the Health Service; it is a source of constant ministerial embarrassment and it is set up to be for the next ten years’. (48) Somehow the NHS sucks blood out of the people like a vampire …
Demos also gained Bob Tyrrell, ‘Futurologist’ and former chairman of the Henley Centre, a ‘marketing and strategic planning consultancy’ owned by WPP Group (which also owns PR firms Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller). Several Demos members have connections with the Henley Centre, and it was used (with Lord Stevenson’s SRU) by Demos to sound out New Labour concepts to the City and vice versa.(49)
Formerly of the Financial Times, Demos’s Ian Hargreaves is a member of the Centre for European Reform (CER). This is a lobby group closely associated with the American Enterprise Institute and the Atlantic Council. (50) The CER lobbies for various Atlanticist positions, often working closely with political lobbying consultancy APCD. Peter Mandelson speaks frequently at CER meetings, which are funded by WPP, The Economist, Pearson, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and a group of banks and arms companies connected to the directors. Thought of as a ‘New Labour think tank’, the CER was set up by Nick Butler of BP (also of the World Economic Forum and Chatham House, the leading elite British think tanks and equivalent of the Council on Foreign Relations) and David Milliband. Butler, who is linked to the right wing of the Labour Party, was a key figure in setting up BAP, stating that their aim was to groom the future Labour leadership because ‘[t]he traditional British left-wing remained deeply suspicious of the United States, particularly on foreign policy and security issues. The British American Project (BAP) was made to counter this suspicion and encourage admiration for US-style “market forces”.’(51)
CER director Charles Grant is former defence editor of The Economist. He writes on UK/US intelligence and works closely with the Foreign Office, collaborating with individuals such as Roger Liddle and Mark Leonard of the Foreign Policy Centre and the American Enterprise Institute. He was on an official list of approved Labour Party candidates leaked to the Independent.
The Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom was formed in 1994 when the British Atlantic Committee and Peace Through NATO (PTN) joined forces. PTN was the group used by Michael Heseltine to undermine CND. Again we see continuities in personnel with anti-left operations dating back to the days of Thatcher and Crozier. CER’s office, which they shared with the Tory Reform Group, was at 29 Tufton Street, Westminster. The office was also used by the Action Centre for Europe which gathered together Lord Carrington (chair of BAP), Lord Howe, Lord Brittan, Kenneth Clarke, Stephen Dorrell, Christopher Patten and others. The Conservative Group for Europe (much the same line-up) is also tucked in there. The European Movement’s offices are just down the road, at number 11.
Although invisible to the mainstream press, Demos’s location and context, the Mezzanine, was a curious gathering of newly created groups with interlocking directorships. These were supplemented by fake grassroots organisations, wealthy funding bodies and other think tanks, some of which will be briefly mentioned below to conclude this chapter.
The Foreign Policy Centre has direct connections with the intelligence services through MI6’s Baroness Meta Ramsay, also of the Atlantic Council, a Demos benefactor and LFIG member. Steven Dorril’s history of MI6 states that Ramsay was secretary of the International Student Conference that allegedly acted as a CIA front. Its offshoot ‘shared an office’ with the overseas Students Trust which Dorril also states had intelligence connections and worked within the NUS. Along with the IPPR, the FPC was named as offering access for cash. (52) John Lloyd, former editor of Time Out and the New Statesman, was associated with both the FPC and Demos.
Lloyd’s Demos publication The Protest Ethic appears to be heavily influenced by Samuel Huntingdon’s Clash of Civilisations, asserting that Muslims are intrinsically more hostile than any other religious civilisation. Lloyd will happily argue that ‘[t]he anti-war movement … is guilty of the worst kind of moral equivalence, equating Bush and Blair with Saddam and Bin Laden. It has been seduced by anti-Americanism.’ (53) Lloyd develops this theme in The Protest Ethic, when he writes:
The only political grouping now using the tactics developed by the global movements – sporadic use of violence and opposition-ism through uncontrollable and unpredictable networks – is Bin laden’s al-Qaeda … taking the destructive potential of such tactics and strategies to a far more lethal extreme.(54)
The Mezzanine’s phoney grassroots organisation Community Action Network (CAN) is run by Ian Hargreaves’s wife Adele Blakebrough, with Demos director Tom Bentley as a trustee. (55) In 1997 CAN was introduced by the late Geoffrey Tucker (a lobbyist whose clients included British Nuclear Fuels, British Gas and McDonald’s) to GTech, who promptly gave them £130,000. Tucker brokered the marriage between commercial security printers De La Rue Holdings and GTech to create Camelot. (56) CAN became a neat way of placing paying executives onto lottery-distributing decision-making committees.
Someone who quietly slipped into the New Deal Task Force and DTI Competitiveness Council was CAN’s Amelia Fawcett (who has dual US and UK citizenship). (57) Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, she worked for the international US CIA-connected law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell.(58) Fawcett stated that ‘Morgan Stanley asked me to set up a government coverage function to monitor UK and EU governmental initiatives, support the privatisation effort and look for business opportunities with government’. (59) The picture of cosy lobbying and privileged access to Number 10 is clear:
Ten young social entrepreneurs, all sponsored by the Coca-Cola Youth Foundation, were recently taken by CAN to Number Ten Downing Street. This is part of a programme of activities which CAN is implementing to inspire and encourage them to develop their social entrepreneurial skills further. They met Geoff Mulgan of the Policy Unit and discussed ideas and issues that concern them. Geoff has given the group and all CAN members e-mail access via CAN HQ into the Policy Unit so the dialogue with government can continue.(60)
Unsurprisingly Coca-Cola Great Britain is represented on the board of CAN, through Christopher N. Banks, managing director. Ashoka is another American organisation located in the Mezzanine. It too is devoted to ‘social entrepreneurs’. It was founded in the 1960s by Bill Drayton, who claims he ‘intrapreneured’ the introduction of ’emissions trading’ while serving in the US Environmental Protection Agency. (61) A former consultant with McKinsey & Co. (Ashoka ‘fellows’ operate through partnerships with McKinsey, and Hill & Knowlton) (62) the ‘Ashoka Society’ was based at both Harvard and Oxford Universities and has ties to the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. Part of its work involves public-private partnerships and social engagement, which is often code for controlling public forums and organising ‘independent’ groups as pro-corporate spokespeople to divide critics.(63)
Even organisations like the Mezzanine’s Carnegie Youth Trust have dubious connections. Many post-war scholars who specialised in international studies were sponsored by the OSS/CIA, with funding by the Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. The first Secret intelligence chief in London, ‘Whitney Shepardson, was director of the Carnegie Corporation’s British Fund and president of the CIA funded Free Europe Committee.(64)
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace ‘incubated’ the German Marshall Fund of the United States and John Foster Dulles led the board; the organisation cites CIA reports to this day. (65) Its Massachusetts Avenue address in Washington is shared by BAP, the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, CFR, Brookings Institution and the British Embassy, so you don’t have to walk far. It was Allen Dulles’s idea to organise most CCF funding at arm’s length, through a ‘consortium’ of ‘philanthropic foundations, business corporations, and other institutions and individuals, who worked hand in hand with the CIA to provide the cover’.(66)
And this can be seen in our last organisation, ERA, which described the Mezzanine as ‘an open plan trading floor or market place… where new relationships are negotiated and new ideas turned into practical opportunities’. (67) Although nominally a charity, its purposes appear rather more like an expensive boutique consultancy. The board includes familiar names: Baroness Ashton, Anthony Giddens; Ian Hargreaves, Will Hutton, Lord Stevenson and Linda Tarr-Whelan, a former US ambassador to the United Kingdom who runs the US Demos – funded by the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation.(68)
This essay has sought to describe a nexus of interests and organisations centred on one particular locale, the Mezzanine, and one notable organisation, Demos. Readers are of course free to draw their own conclusions from this coalescence. However, it is worth noting the patterned, almost structured way such policy actors and charity groups associate and interpenetrate. The case of Demos and the Mezzanine represents a network of actors with shared connections and, crucially, shared interests. They represent a little-examined and poorly understood current in British public life. But we should beware of looking to conspiracy theory for an explanation. Much of what has been discussed here is not secret, but is openly available on the public record if you know where to look. As William Domhoff, a leading expert on elites and power structure research, notes:
We study visible institutions, take most of what elites say as statements of their values and intentions, and recognize that elites sometimes have to compromise, and sometimes lose. Conspiracists study alleged behind the scenes groups, think everything elites say is a trick, and claim that elites never lose.(69)
Domhoff notes several problems with the conspiratorial world view that don’t fit with the available evidence. For instance, the notion that a tiny wealthy clique with an obsessive desire for power is really conspiring secretly to rule the world is unsustained: ‘It makes more sense to assume that leaders act for their usual reasons, such as profit-seeking motives and institutionalized roles as elected officials.’ Such a perspective is useful when looking again (or indeed for the first time) at groups like Demos. Such policy-orientated groups merit careful study and scrutiny. The analysis offered here draws together different pieces of evidence to offer an account of the role of think tanks and para-political organisations in the conduct of politics and policy — if this is considered ‘alternative’ to some sort of unitary acceptable version of events then so be it.
We can draw some conclusions. First, that the policy entrepreneurs around Demos are entwined with the right-wing networks which promoted Thatcherism and with their US equivalents, not least through the British American Project. Second, that the intelligence and foreign policy connections are many and complex, linking this nexus with the UK and US intelligence services and with the US foreign- and defence-policy establishment. Third, that the inter-penetration of the think-tankers, lobbyists and New Labour is striking. These networks, actors and organisations are all part of the life support system for the New Labour government. They contribute to the climate of opinion by shaping discourse and debate, and both encourage and enable the neoliberal policy agenda.
The analysis presented above directly challenges the mainstream histories of this period that are available. Doubtless some will try to dismiss this account as somehow fanciful or conspiracist. The focus here has been to document and describe some of the actors and their political projects as a way of unspinning the story of New Labour and reconceptualising the taken-for-granted accounts of the ‘modernisation’ of the Labour Party over the last 20 years.
1. See D. Plehwe, B. Walpen and G. Neunhoffer (eds) Neoliberal Hegemony: A Global Critique (London: Routledge, 2005), especially ch. 2; D. Miller and W. Dinan, The Cutting Edge (London: Pluto Press, forthcoming).
2. For more detail, see R. Cockett, Thinking the Unthinkable; Think-tanks and the Economic Counter-revolution 1938-83 (London: Fontana, 1995).
3. Richard Fletcher’s pioneering research in the 1970s is cited by Robin Ramsay in The Clandestine Caucus, Lobster Special Issue, 1996).
4. David Osler, Labour Party PLC (Edinburgh: Mainstream Books, 2002).
5. All quotes in this paragraph are from B. Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941-1991 (London: HarperCollins, 1993), p. 250–1.
6. S. Dorril, ‘American Friends: the Anti-CND Groups‘, Lobster 3, February 1984.
7. Papers submitted to the report of the Congressional Committee investigating the Iran-Contra Affair (House Report No. 100-433/Senate Report No. 100–216, Washington, 1988), cited in T. Easton, ‘The British American Project for the Successor Generation’, Lobster 33, Summer 1997, <http://www.unclenicks.net/bilderberg/www.bilderberg.org/bap.htm>
10. See F. Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New Press: New York, 2004).
11. Crozier, Free Agent, p. 250.
12. B. Crozier and A. Seldon, Socialism Explained (Sherwood Press: London, 1984).
13. ‘Operational Selection Policy OSP11: Nuclear Weapons Policy 1967-1998’, revised November 2005, National Archives, p. 7, paragraph 5.17, <http:// http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/osp11.pdf>; Dorril, ‘American Friends’.
14. D. Macintyre, Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (London: HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 248, 311.
15. N. Cohen, ‘Up for Grabs’, New Statesman, 23 October 2000.
16. Red Wedge was a celebrity-led initiative to engage young voters in the political process before the 1987 election. It was linked with the Labour Party and included musicians Billy Bragg and Paul Weller, and comedians Lenny Henry and Ben Elton.
17. J. Tranmet, ‘Wearing badges isn’t enough in days like these‘, Cerdes 3, 2001, p. 134, <http://www.cercIes.com/n3/tranmer.pdf>.
18. Guardian, 26 September 2002.
19. K. Ahmed, ‘Mandelson back as think tank head’, Observer, 9 September 2001, <http://www.policy-network.net/php/article.php?sid=6&aid=25 7>.
20. Cohen, ‘Up for Grabs’.
21. G. Mulgan and H. Wilkinson, Freedom’s Children (London: Demos, 1995).
22. Hansard Debates, 5 December 1991.
23. G. Bedell, Independent On Sunday, 24 January 1993.
24. Guardian, 15 and 18 July 1995.
26. House of Commons Hansard, written answers for 19 October 1999 (pt. 20), <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199899/cmhansrd/vo991019/text/91019w20.htm>.
27. M. McHale, ‘Geoff Mulgan: Thinker of the unthinkable’, Public Finance, 8 December 2000, <http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/features_details.cfm?NewUd=7231>.
28. D. Bell, The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1960). In the American edition of ‘The End of Ideology’, Bell states that the book is a collection of articles ‘prompted’ by Irving Krystol (now with the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute), Michael Josselson and Melvin Lasky (‘an old comrade’), which first appeared in Commentary and Encounter, and that the longer essays were presented at CCF conferences. Bell states that he worked for the CCF (1955-57) as director of international seminars, and cites a CCF conference in 1957 ‘under the auspices of St Antony’s College, Oxford’.
29. G. Mulgan, After the End of Politics, occasional paper 2 (Sheffield: University of Sheffield, February 1994).
30. Phillip C. Bobbitt, biography, School of Law, University of Texas, <http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/profile.php?id=pbobbitt>.
31. T. Pendry, ‘Demos: Fashionable ideas and the rule of the few‘, Lobster 46, Winter 2003.
33. Uriel Wittenberg, ‘The Independent Institute‘, 1999, <http://www.urielw. com/deception2.htm>.
34. Red Star Research. Sternberg made large donations to the Labour Party in the late 1970s. He is a fellow of the Institute of Directors and is vicepresident of the Labour Finance and Industry Group (he was deputy chairman from 1972 to 1993). Cohen had donated £100,000 to Labour in 1999 and was given a knighthood in 2000, <http://www.red-star-research. org.uk/subframe3.html>.
35. Israel Centre for Social and Economic Progress website, <http://www.icsep.org.ill/about/organization.shtml #uk-friends>.
36. B. Micklethwait, Review of A. Etzioni, The Parenting Deficit (Demos, Paper No.4, London, 1993), Free Life 23, August 1995, <http://www.btinternet.com/~old.whig/freelife/fl23etzi.htm>; <http://www.seangabb.co.uk/freelife/flhtm/fl23etzi.htm> .
37. Crozier, Free Agent, p. 147. Haseler was a founder member of the SDP and the National Association for Freedom.
38. T. Easton, ‘Who were they travelling with?‘, Lobster 31, 1996, <http:// http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/articles/131whowh.htm>; Dave Parks and Greg Dropkin, ‘Backing Barry: The NATO Publisher and the PCS Coup’, 5 July 2002, <http://www.labournet.net/ukunion/0207/pcs2.html>; see also Julian Lewis’s account claiming that he was ‘the person who collected and supplied nearly all the material used by Michael Heseltine and Ray Whitney to expose the Left-wing affiliations of CND leaders so damagingly before the 1983 election’. Julian Lewis, ‘I exposed CND links’, Tribune, 29 July 1988.
39. <http://www.adamsmith.org/policy/bulletin/b 18.htm>.
40. Guardian, 4 May 1999.
41. Financial Times, 16 March 1992.
42. Independent, 12 December 1990.
44. Sunday Times, 21 June 1998.
46. D. Estulin, ‘The World in the Palm of Their Hands: Bilderberg 2005’ (online journal), 24 May 2005, <http://www.mindfully.org/WTO/2005/Bilderberg-Millennium-World24may2005.h tm>.
47. J. Shaoul, ‘Britain: Government think tank sets out plans for privatisation of essential services’, World Socialist website, 6 July 2001, <http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/jul2001/ippr-j06.shtml>.
48. Select Committee on Public Administration, ‘Minutes of Evidence, Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-179)’, 15 November 2001, <http:/www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm2001102/cmselect/cmpubadm/263/111504.htm>.
49. Macintyre, Mandelson and the Making of New Labour, p. 248.
50. Atlantic Council board members include Lord Robertson (NATO, . BAP), Lord Dahrendorf (former warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford, who has close ties to MI6), Lord Hannay (former ambassador to the UN and the EU), Lord Haskins (LFIG and Demos), Catherine Kelleher (professor, US Naval War College), John Monks (general secretary of the TUC), Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (former chair of Joint Intelligence Committee, governor of the Ditchley Foundation, director of QinetiQ – set up by the MoD to work with the Carlyle Group in running the government’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) and Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill (the widow of Labour leader John Smith and a director until 2000 of the corporate spying firm Hakluyt).
51. Red Pepper profile, ‘Nick Butler, Chief Group Policy Adviser for BP’, <http://www.redpepper.org.uk/natarch/butler.html>.
52. A. Barnett, ‘Think-tanks face claims of “cash for access” deals’, Observer, June 30 2002, p. 5.
53. New Statesman, 17 February 2003.
54. J. Lloyd, ‘The Protest Ethic: How the anti-globalisation movement challenges social democracy’, 1 January 2001, <http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/protestethic> .
55. Bentley was an adviser to David Blunkett when he was secretary of state for education. Bentley went on to become the executive director for policy and cabinet for the premier of Victoria, Australia, from September 2006, <http://www.demos.co.uk/people/tombentley/blog>.
57. Fawcett biography at <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2005/03/10/ccfifty10.xml&menuId=242&sSheet=/money/2005/03/10/ixcoms.html>.
58. On Sullivan & Cromwell and the CIA, see E. Masud, ‘Millions Spent Subverting “Enemies“, Stifling Dissent’, 15 February 2001, <http://www.twf.org/News/Y2001/0215-CIAfunds.html>; <http://www.answers.com/topic/john-foster-dulles>; also to be found in Christopher Simpson, Bankers, Lawyers and Linkage Groups: The Splendid Blond Beast (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995); <http://www.thirdworldtraveler. com/Genocide/BaI1kers_Lawyers_SBB.html>; <http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article-9321907>; and Nancy Lisagor and Frank Lipsius, ‘A Law Unto Itself: The Untold Story of the Law Firm Sullivan & Cromwell’, Business History Review 63 (2), Summer 1989, pp. 432-4, <http://links.jstor.org/sici ?sici=OOO7-6805(1989 22)63%3A2%3C432%3AALUITU%3E2.0.CO%3B2-%23>.
60. Web archive of CAN site at <http://web.archive.org/web/20010108023100/http://www.can-online.org.uk/activity/1999-05.htm>.
62. <http://www.ashoka.org/partners>. The web site testimonial reads: ‘Hill & Knowlton provides pro bono marketing and communications services to Ashoka and Ashoka Fellows. This global partnership is critical to advancing the profession of social entrepreneurship by providing strategic communications counsel, media and presentation training and other consulting services – including serving as organizational board members for Ashoka Fellows. To date, 25 offices on 5 continents have contributed to this rewarding effort. Hill & Knowlton is enabling social entrepreneurs to gain greater support for their ideas and to share best practices around the world.’
63. <http://www.youthventure.org/home.asp>; Larry Lohmann ‘Whose Voice Is Speaking? How Opinon Polls and Cost-Benefit Analysis Synthesize New “Publics”‘, first published May 1998, <http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/item.shtml?x=51962>.
64. R. Harris Smith, OSS (Berke ley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1972).
65. See for example the CEIP pages on WMD in Iraq, <http://www.ceip.org/programs/npp/un-iraq.htm>.
66. A. Johnson, ‘The Cultural Cold War: Faust Not the Pied Piper‘, New Politics 8 (3), Summer 2001, <http://www.wpunj.edu/-newpol/issue311johnso31.htm>.
68. ‘Miles Rapoport Named President of Demos, New Public Policy Network‘, 6 March 2001, <http://www.commondreams.org/news200l/0306-10.htm>i <http://www.era-ltd.com/aboucus/adcouncil. shtml>.
69. G.W. Domhoff, ‘There are no Conspiracies‘, March 2005, <http://www.publiceye .org/antisemitism/nw_domhoff.html>.
You can read a reply to this essay from one of Demos’ James Wilsdon here