The Smith Institute
The Smith Institute is an ‘independent think tank’, which was set up in 1997 to educate us about how the rich control things. Well not really, that’s just a joke, but there is an air of unreality and ambiguity about why the Institute was organised and for what purposes: are we short on think tanks, doesn’t everyone know Capitalism is wonderful by now, isn’t the door of government wide open to big business, lobbyists and those on the make? In their own words the Smith Institute define their purpose as:
Issues simply flow you see —directed by forces of nature as yet unknown to mankind. Now, unenlightened, as they insist you are, by the vast intellectual discoveries unearthed by the Smith Institute, you presumably think that the ‘independent think tank’ bit means that it is independent from government? No! independence flows from promoting political writing and political personalities from people engaged in politics — or at least they way the Smith Institute has changed that relationship makes it flow. Might politics fit into the relationship between social values and economic imperatives?
The Smith Institute is a Registered Charity, so (normally) if we were to ask what is flowing and where and why? ‘Politics’ should not be the answer, with the assumption being that such status would normally preclude an organisation from political work — they’d have to pay tax like the little people. Here critics might simply point to its reason for existing, given that the Smith Institute was:
“founded in memory of the late John Smith QC MP, and its work is focused on the interaction of fairness and enterprise — an area of political economy that was of particular interest to John.”
Well before you start pouncing on that ‘political economy’ bit, you should remember that QC bit too — in this occupation words and testimony are part of a game played with wigs and sophistry with the object of deliberately convincing people of things which are palpably untrue while appearing balanced and neutral— the Labour party used to be about all manner of things before leaders such as John Smith were put in charge — and the people who started it would have fainted if they’d been told a QC would end up running it. For you see the Smith Institute was only founded in his memory: I put it to the members of the jury that Mr Smith has been dead for a number of years and performs no political activity. My client, the Institute was merely founded in his memory and indeed ‘John Smith’ could be anyone: it is a well-known generic term for ‘everyman’ —it was never their intention to take everything so literally.
In a masterpiece made from a similar sort of hallucinogenic fudge the Charity Commission eventually produced a report on the Institute spurned on by the (entirely unpolitical) Telegraph:
The report said: “Due to the amount and nature of party political content in some of the Institute’s events and publications, the Commission concluded that the Institute’s work was not always as sufficiently balanced and neutral as required under charity law.”
First the flow, now the quantum oscillation — you’re biased but what the hell we found some stuff that wasn’t really about anything. For an organisation named after Smith, and thus magically un-connected with politics, it also carries off the prestidigitation of being closely connected to the UK’s prime minister, Gordon Brown and his lovely assistants. Thus, when the Guardian (entirely unconnected with politics) also announced that it was to be ‘investigated’ by the Charity Commission (an odd bunch who pretend to be a business, presumably for the wages) for alleged breaches of the ‘rule’ that bars voluntary organisations from being used for overtly party political purposes— we again see the laws of fudge, flow and quantum oscillation enabling the Institute to be used as a limbo to contain members of the political class:
The report said it had been a “reasonable decision” for the charity to recruit Ed Balls as a senior research fellow after he resigned as Mr Brown’s economic adviser in 2004. There have been allegations that Mr Balls was employed for political purposes to fill the gap before he became an MP. He is now Schools Secretary.
In an exchange of letters with the Commission, the Smith Institute’s trustees agreed to make ‘changes to the governance of the Institute’ here all they did was:
1. Appoint additional trustees.
2. Write in their publications that “the Institute has no political connection and no intention of promoting a particular point of view.” The trustees also ‘accepted’ that there may be advantages in making it clearer that they are not an “Institute that some people might inadvertently assume is simply ‘promoting the thoughts of John Smith”’
3. Be a bit more cleverer with the selection of areas of study and research, by saying they would set up an Advisory Committee.
4. “Refrain from using forewords by prominent members of the Labour Party in publications.”
5. “Consider carefully the implications of using 11 Downing Street and the value of holding seminars at neutral venues.”
So we are led to believe that, for example Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale who was in MI6 and now oversees the intelligence services, failed to note the ‘implications of using 11 Downing Street’ — what genius. The Charity Commissioners say they spent from February 2007 to July 2008 on the inquiry wading through everything it has produced, including satirical heights such as:
John Smith Memorial Lecture: Religion and the rise of socialism: the ethical origins of the Labour Party: A lecture by Rt. Hon. Lord Hattersley of Sparbrook on 12 July 2004
Who better to lecture us on the rise of socialism than a member of the House of Lords, or how about this one on the hush hush world of security:
New Challenges to Security (Transcript as yet unpublished by the Institute) but concerning an event held on 3 June 2008
Here the Institute and the University of St Andrews held the event, during which the Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon Jacqui Smith MP, delivered a lecture. A footnote adds “The event was chaired by the Director and the other speakers were the Principal and Vice Chancellor of St Andrews University and the Group Managing Director of the events sponsor, Smiths Detection.” The latter company are of course raking it in with the ‘war on terror,’ and from their point of view they organise events to promote their wares and use images of politicians to promote this while: “The Home Secretary used the forum to make a major policy speech on the UK Government’s approach to homeland security issues.”
According to the footnotes in the report:
Provisions within the version of the guidance Political Activities and Campaigning by Charities (CC9) available in 2002 included:
‘a) A charity whose stated purposes include the advancement of education must not overstep the boundary between education and propaganda in promoting that purpose. The distinction is between providing balanced information designed to enable people to make up their own mind and providing one-sided information designed to promote a particular point of view (paragraph 33);
b) A charity must not support a political party (paragraph 41);
c) A charity must not provide supporters or members of the public with material specifically designed to underpin a party political campaign or for or against a government or particular MPs (paragraph 46); and
d) A charity must not issue material which supports or opposes a particular political party or the government (paragraph 47)’
The footnotes also have this (emphasis in the original):
It was known to the Commission, at the time of registration, that the three founding trustees were all Labour Peers. When the Commission engaged with the Institute in 2001/02, the trustees at this time were still all Labour Peers. They were Lord Haskel, Lord Joffe, Baroness Ramsay and Baroness Rendell. In a letter to the Commission dated 9 October 2001 the trustees said that they wished ‘to make it clear that they believe themselves to be independent of the Labour Party in their capacity as Trustees of the Smith Institute.
The footnotes also tell us that when engaging in their own self analysis “around links to politics” the Institute “concentrated on the strengths of its connections to HM Treasury and access to 11 Downing Street and did not consider the potential risks to the Institute’s independence” or as they put it themselves:
‘We are unique amongst the think tanks in our special relationship with the Treasury. This is what makes other organisations and indeed other government departments anxious to work with us. It is clearly an advantage to have such excellent access to 11 Downing Street, and the support of Treasury Ministers’
The last footnote is possibly the best:
The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP did not respond to the Commission’s correspondence
Yes —how many divisions do you have Charity Commissioners? In the period from September 2005 to August 2006 about half (27 of 61) were held at 11 Downing Street, the Treasury position is that the Institute is “not given exclusive or preferential access to 11 Downing Street” contrary to the promotional material of the trustees. there was no need for Gordon Brown to respond really, he must have fely he had said all there was to say at the Institute’s events themselves: of the 111 politicians who contributed to at least one publication or transcript, 78 were Labour, and the most frequent political contributor, was the then Chancellor (23 occasions), the occupant of number 11.
Nothing was ever going to come to much with the Charity Commissioner’s snoop at the Smith Institute except more of the same— the Commissioners are not really inclined that way. John Williams formerly of J. Walter Thompson, co-founder and former Chairman at Fishburn Hedges (who have amongst a lot of other things an £18m project helping ‘close the perception gap‘ with Shell) and others in PR don’t like to be seen telling the government what to do—when called upon they suggest. Williams’ (1998) publication ‘Company Law and Accountability’ merely explores ‘the major issues in preparation for the DTI review of Company Law.’
And would Andrew Hind, formerly chief operating officer of the BBC World Service, who joined the Charity Commission as its first chief executive in 2004 really start on about ‘independent’ institutions running government propaganda?
Fairness and enterprise…”not always as sufficiently balanced and neutral as required under charity law”
Thanks to the Commissioners we do have their phrase “not always as sufficiently balanced and neutral as required under charity law” which should henceforth be attached to everything the Smith Institute say — and at least that’s something, presuming that they will be around for any length of time and not just set up some other shuck. But what of the Institute’s intellectual focus: fairness and enterprise; social values and economic imperatives — what kind of answers would we get to an examination of these if (unlike the Smith Institute) we were balanced and neutral? Are the two concepts made to act in mutual or exclusive interaction by those with power in society, what is the dialectic? Are the ideas which surround ‘enterprise culture’ commonly devoted or accentuated towards fairness in the sense of private accumulation or the general distribution of wealth? Also, the use of language here is interesting: why is the ”social” derogated as having values (beliefs, emotional investment); while the ”economic” is prerogated as an imperative (expressive of command, directive, compulsory). One is presented as malleable the other immutable, and that is yet to be established.
The Smith Institution frames these questions within the paradigms of New Labour and moreover, their leanings towards ‘neo-liberalism’, two components John Smith formulated in the early 90s with the ‘Prawn Cocktail Offensive’ and which the Institute seeks to support. Now you may not be of the opinion that British society has become fairer given the changes to the law which seek to abolish fundamental tenets of human rights and so forth—but we are not allowed to attribute this to the people in charge in any real sense. Similarly, ‘enterprise’ (in the sense of capitalist ‘free’ enterprise) is supposedly all about freedom and simply follows natural laws like the ‘flow’ between supply and demand. You can see this when Capitalists would like to appear wonderful and need some intellectual clothing far-removed from a tedious Marxist analysis: think tank magicians and PR people and friends in the mass media will fix the audiences gaze upon the lovely assistant called ‘Corporate Social Responsibility,’ or ‘Corporate Community Engagement’ or sponsorship of a think tank perhaps. The poor have no wealth yet it naturally flows downwards from the wealthy — no hold on that can’t be right how did it get up there? Why it naturally flows upwards forced on the rich by the poor and then trickles back down once the wealthy accidentally spill some of it or the sheer volume of it bursts a leak — is that it? In any case with neo-Liberalism we are back to the days before scientific inquiry began to look into these things — hence the need for the pseudo-science of think tanks which seem to have adopted many of the tactics of the advertising world. Indeed the person who helped think up the term ‘neo-Liberalism’, Joseph Nye, also thought up the term ‘soft power’ (propaganda) and now advises on ‘public diplomacy’ (the use of propaganda usually to cover up the ravages of neo-Liberalism or make it look good) everyone is starting think tanks— so in an odd way we are stuck with a basic process of supply and demand that Karl Marx would have understood, although he may well have said something about false consciousness and so forth — but that too can be purveyed by think tanks.
The example of Nye and the ideas and think tanks he has been involved with (including the US Central Intelligence Agency) in this context shine light on and indicate neglected features of the concepts surrounding the formulation of New Labour and its bedfellows— which I have attempted to look at in the Atlantic Semantic. Aspects of the relations with the businesses that wanted to hire its services — some of which involved funding and influence of think tanks such as Demos via the Labour Finance and Industry Group, (Smith Institute founding trustees Lord Haskel and Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale were also involved with the LFIG) and a nexus of organisations based in the Mezzanine, was this addictive need for fake grass-roots organisations promoting politics as multi-national corporate sector social responsibility, where social provision becomes the pawn of ‘venture philanthropy’ and political ‘special advisers’ become part of organisationsforming the intellectual hum-buggery of think tanks as their ‘policy entrepreneurs’. These have continued to cast ‘enterprise’ as that which determines the line that all policy must now be acceptable to the financial markets and neo-liberalism’s permanent expansion. And several formerly critical thinkers have contributed to this process: Anthony Giddens of ERA for example, the provider of the ‘third way’, described by Colin Leys as ‘somewhere between the Second Coming and the Fourth Dimension’.
Leys also notes in the Cynical State that the combined effect of all these changes has been to make academic research within the neo-Liberal paradigm well rewarded, while effective public criticism of government policies encounters the opposite. For Leys the quantity of research has risen but its analytic and critical quality has declined. This may be no truer of political science than of other social science disciplines, but it is especially obvious in the study of politics. Drawing on Joan Roelofs’ (2003) Foundations and Public Policy, he argues that Roelofs’ critique of American political science now largely fits its British counterpart.
Political scientists … study parties and interest groups, yet the latters’ creation and funding are usually neglected. The interlocking directorates among interest groups, foundations, and corporations are generally ignored. Professional associations, conferences of state officials, think tanks, and integrative organizations such as the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies are rarely examined in political science research. Thus indexes in American government textbooks sometimes list Ford, Betty, and omit the Ford Foundation.
Leys states that Denham and Garnett, the ‘foremost academic experts on think tanks in Britain’, made no effort to analyze the sources of think tank’s funding and the effects of this on what they produce — you can see Demos director James Wilsdon’s pathetically hostile response to my own writing on this under the heading Mr Wilsdon writes…
An aspect of policing this drive is the emergence of ‘policy entrepreneurs’ also operating in captive debates promoting ‘the third way’ as some form of cognitive dissonance compensating for the effects of private enterprise and its centralisation and accumulation of wealth. Greg Palast, in (2003) ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy‘ makes reference to the series of Nexus debates in reference to Jon Mendelsohn (now back with New Labour under Brown) of Lawson Lucas Mendelsohn (LLM) one of largest lobbying firms in the UK:
Lawson and Lucas were quick to point out that lobbying is not all about calls to the Treasury. Sometimes LLM recommends the indirect route, “placing things with columnists we know the chancellor reads”. They called this “creating an environment”. In addition, LLM operates a captive think tank, Nexus, to give their views (or their clients’ views) the imprimatur of academic legitimacy. Sometimes they make use of the Socialist Environmental Research Foundation, which, Lucas assured me, is a purchased front for retailers. Lawson explained how LLM plays on what they call politics without leadership. In a milieu in which a lack of conviction is deemed an asset, with no fixed star of principles by which to steer, policy is susceptible to the last pitch heard over cocktails. “The Labour government is always of two minds, it operates in a kind of schizophrenia. On big issues especially, they don’t know what they are thinking. Blair himself doesn’t always know what he is thinking.”
Palast is also quoted in a more academic context in Michael Barker’s (2005) Manufacturing policies: the media’s role in the policy making process.
The trick is to ignore all that Marx and Engels stuff, Keynes and the like, and devote oneself to a variant of the ‘trickle-down economics’ of the conservative 80s — the voodoo where the government do not seek to close the gap between the poor and the rich, preferring the patronage of the super-rich themselves — this even extends to the notion that the poor have actually excluded themselves from the economy. The odd thing is: while banging on about business and profit they all register as charities. The poor are as voiceless as before and we are back to the good old days of a god ordained elect—there goes Weber along with Marx, and one begins to wonder if the Smith Institute would not be better burning books rather than churning out a supply there is little demand for and which would not last long if it had to earn its money. It was given £463,200 in 2003; £524,852 for 2003/04; £718,031 for 2004/05 and £857,387 for 2005/06. The source of this income was donations and sponsorship income received from ‘SI Events Limited.’ During the financial year 2006/07, 35 separate donors gave funds in the range of £5,000 to £40,000. 33 of the donations came from corporate bodies or charities, with two coming from individuals. These figures are taken from data submitted by the Institute’s auditors and repeated in the report.
Publish and be damned boring
What marks the ‘intellectual’ contributors to the Smith Institute in these respects (a selection are examined below) is that they have pioneered a deliberate PR presentation smokescreen to envelop conceptual thinking on fairness and enterprise, the economic and the social and interpolate rhetorical devices such as the ‘third way’; the shift towards the supplication of neo-liberalism inherent in Smith’s ‘Prawn cocktail offensive’ (he was also an attendee of the Bilderberg Group and in the tradition of Gaitskell and Healy) and the formulation of ‘Atlanticist’ factions within a small elite (privately and at times secretly funded) with its hands on the party tiller. The participatory democracy inherent in achieving fair, socially advantageous enterprise is not a component of the free market ideology which controls their destination. This process including the development of Atlanticist networks has been pioneered by Lobster magazine’s Robin Ramsay (as in Uncle Sam’s New Labour and Signs of the times) and its writers — but they won’t be invited and won’t be listened to because the Emperor wants to prance around to such great acclaim by those who tailor his suit and who are much more intelligent than the rest of us: so intelligent they have transcended academia and need a special Institute.
This Institute say their mode of working is to identify “where the most relevant and recent research is being undertaken on a particular topic, and then to present it in a seminar series attended by ministers, backbenchers, special advisers, civil servants, business and industrial leaders, and specialists.” But who is it that is conducting this research, upon what criteria is its relevance assessed? There is an identifiably selective focus in who and what it promotes: those who are allowed to participate are part of a swarm of flies that sustained and promoted the concepts around ‘New Labour’ and profited greatly by it.
It is impossible to argue that the work published by the Institute is original thinking or that it could not be obtained through other more overtly political outlets. The Instutute publishes the texts of the speeches and a record of the subsequent discussion: “in the hope that it will inform and educate a wider readership than can attend the seminars themselves.” Thus it can be seen as some form of in-house propaganda, or consensus building, or affirmation and ascription around the ascendancy of capitalism place at the heart of New Labour thinking on policy.
The publication’s writers include: Geoff Mulgan (of Demos), Lord Chris Haskins who was eventually chucked out the Labour party for donating to the Liberals. Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke MP, Rt. Hon. Lord Falconer QC MP, Shami Chakrabarti (who has recently joined the Ditchley Foundation), Will Hutton, Ed Balls, David Blunkett, These include:
‘Globalisation and Progressive Politics‘ by Michael Snyder, the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, President Bill Clinton:
“A transcript of the speeches and discussion at our recent event at the Guildhall, London. The Smith Institute gratefully acknowledges the help and generosity of the Corporation of London in making this event possible, and thanks our partners – Policy Network, Demos, The Fabian Society, IPPR and the Social Market Foundation – for their input into the organisation and running of the event.”
This is fairly typical of the Institute’s output in that it draws on such organisations, which themselves are greatly influenced or directed or advised by New Labour insiders or those who have developed a vested interest.
The Institute’s publications also include: ‘Improving Competitiveness’ funded by British Gas, EDS and BAA (the publication includes contributions by Ian Hargreaves of BAA and Demos and the Centre for European Reform and many others and now the spin doctor for the Foreign Office; Irwin Stelzer (Rupert Murdoch’s link to Blair) from the Hudson Institute, Mark Clare, Deputy Chief Executive, Centrica, and Managing Director, British Gas. EDS of course are heavily reliant on government contracts and the back door privatisation process.
Their ‘Enlightenment Lectures’ of 2002 featured: Lord Dahrendorf, Lord Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC, Gordon Brown MP, Dr Emma Rothschild (of the British Council and Rothschild’s feuding banking family) and Dr Irwin Stelzer (again).
The John Smith Memorial Lecture ‘Can social justice ever be delivered in a disordered world?’ was delivered by Lord Robertson. Gordon Brown’s lecture to the Carnegie Foundation early in 2003, ‘Carnegie and Philanthropy: Lessons for Today’ ignored the history of what Carnegie actually did to his workers. Seemingly just to illustrate how spectacularly out of touch with the common people the Institute had Senator Edward Kennedy deliver the first John Smith Memorial Lecture at an event held jointly by Zurich Financial Services at the Banqueting House, Whitehall, London: “Social Justice and Equality in an Era of Globalisation.”
And there was ‘Civilised Capitalism’ with Lord Tugendhat, Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Dr Irwin M Stelzer (there are several Brown/Seltzer collaborations here and indeed Seltzer is acknowledged as the ambassador of the American Business model to the UK), Sir Howard Davies and Ruth Kelly MP which stemmed from Brown’s speech to the Social Market Foundation in February 2003. And Linda Tarr-Whelan, Baroness Margaret Jay’s Report of a two day conference held on November 1999, organised jointly by the US-based Center for Policy Alternatives in association, the Smith Institute and the Cabinet Office — closing address was given by Gordon Brown.
The Institute is thought of as ‘Brownite’ although obviously it is named after the late Labour leader. The trustees are not entirely synonymous with Socialism — of which there is no mention — indeed the site is somewhat anonymous. Brown contributed to 23 of the institute’s publications, and the frequency increased as he became more likely to take over as PM. The charities probe also noted where the SI held its insider meetings:
These included such objective, impartial, apolitical charitable examples of self-sacrifice and the result of peer-reviewed academic research as:
…an event invite from January last year which stated: “Britain is a better country because of the choices that voters made in 1997, 2001 and 2005. More people have what they aspire to: a job; a decent income; and a home in a community which offers support and security.”
* Lord Haskel of Higher Broughton (Chairman): Founder Member of Labour Finance and Industry Group (LFIG), now Vice-President, LFIG includes Baroness Ramsay below. LFIG pioneered the ‘Prawn Cocktail Offensive’ and the introduction of the PFI, according to Peter Slowe’s (2001) A Brief History of the Labour Finance and Industry Group, and also helped set up the think tank Demos. Made a Life Peer in October 1993 his main activity is his work at the House of Lords. Previously The Perrotts Group Plc (an international textile business). In 1994 he became an Opposition Whip in the House of Lords, and then Front Bench spokesman on Trade & Industry and appointed a member of the Select Committee on Science & Technology. In May 1997 he became a member of the new Labour Government as a Spokesman on Trade & Industry, a Government whip (now the Liaison Peer with the Department of Trade & Industry). Also involved in Parliamentary Groups dealing with Arts & Heritage, Pensions & Financial Services, Manufacturing and IT. Chair of Trustees, Deputy Chair, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, according to The Labour Finance and Industry Group biography.
* Lord Joel Joffe: a crossbench peer in the House of Lords. Born in South Africa in 1932, he was educated at the University of Witwatersrand (1955), and worked as a human rights lawyer 1958-65, including, at the infamous 1963-4 Rivonia Trial, representing Nelson Mandela. Later he moved to the United Kingdom, and worked in the financial services industry, as well as the voluntary sector. He was associated with Oxfam in various roles between 1982 and 2001, including being its Chair 1995-2001. He gave more than £5,000 to the Labour Party in 1997 and £10,000 in march 2001. And somehow managed to serve on the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care and along with David (now also Lord) Lipsey, despite being one of the founders of Allied Dunbar Assurance. (Assurance companies deal in death and illness insurance). According to Red Star Research the commission: “produced a minority report which enabled the Government to ignore the expensive provision of care recommended by the majority of Commission members.”
Joffe is the former Chair of the Allied Dunbar Charitable Trust is a ‘venture philanthropy’ organisation and was also a Trustee of International Alert (a conflict prevention charity), now the chair of The Giving Campaign.
* John Milligan: Scottish Labour Party member and donor. Founder of Atlantic Power (which supplied personnel to the oil industry in the early 1980s). Worth £44 million according to the Sunday Times Rich List, Milligan was appointed as Chairman of the Scottish Welfare to Work Advisory Task Force in 2001. Milligan formed Atlantic Power and Gas in 1982 and remained as Chairman of Atlantic Power and Gas until 2000, and until 2002 a non-executive member of the board of Petroleum Geo-Services (NYSE), which merged with Atlantic Power in 1998. Atlantic Power holds contracts with ExxonMobil covering its Beryl field and Texaco’s Galley field according to Gas and Oil.com. He is also a non-executive Director of Aberdeen Development Capital. Previously Chairman of Aberdeen Enterprise Trust and Chairman of Head Start Aberdeen. The Scottish Government re-appontment him to the ‘Welfare to Work’ taskforce. He now owns Ballathie Estate near Perth and is a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies (and Chairman of the Board of Governors) at Robert Gordon University.
* Paul Myners CBE: Following a number of years writing for the Daily Telegraph on financial matters, Myners holds directorships in a wide range of companies: he is Chairman of the Tate Gallery, Marks & Spencers, Aspen Insurance (the largest independent reinsurance company in London), the Guardian Media Group and is a Director of the Bank of England and the Bank of New York. Myners is a leading expert on issues of corporate governance. He was chairman of leading fund managers, Gartmore Investment Management, until his retirement in 2001. He also sits on the board of Gartmore Global Trust plc.
In March 2000, Gordon Brown commissioned Paul Myners to conduct a review of institutional investment in the UK HM Treasury Myners Principles: Review of Progress. The Myners Report said holders of pensions were being short-changed by fund managers, whose timidity was cutting into returns, and his review of life insurance and pension funds was adopted by the Government in 2001. He is also on the board of Glyndebourne Arts Trust with a host of upper crust worthies including Lord Dennis Stevenson (also with Myners at the Tate), Sir Michael Perry the Chairman of Centrica plc, Lord Rothermere. Myners is also chair of the Low Pay Commission.
Myner’s Treasury-funded review of the life assurance industry paid the Smith Institute £11,750 to organise two round table seminars in London to canvass views on reform, according to the Guardian who reported that Myners wrote to the Treasury, saying he had told review staff at the time in 2004 that “I would be happy personally to contribute some or all of the costs of the seminars”. Myners told the department’s permanent secretary, Nicholas Macpherson: “Having made this very clear I have, as I always intended, therefore now paid for the full cost of the two seminars organised by SI Events.” None of the events organised by the review team were discussed with Treasury ministers.
* Once tipped as a future head of the MI6, The Smith Institute’s Baroness Margaret “Meta” Ramsay is a former MI6 operative and was an advisor to the late John Smith. She is chair of the Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom and a non-exec director at Nirex. Page 475 of Steven Dorril’s history, ‘MI6: fifty Years of Special Operations’, states that Ramsay was secretary of the International Student Conference (ISC) which allegedly acted as a CIA front. Its offshoot the Fund for International Student Co-operation ‘shared an office’ with the Overseas Students Trust which also seems to have had intelligence connections and worked within the NUS.
Ramsay, followed a career of over twenty years in HM Diplomatic Service in MI6, where she was a Scandanavia specialist, and was Foreign Policy Advisor for John Smith from 1992 until his death. She was part of a Glasgow University 60s clique which included Smith, Donald Dewar, Derry Irvine the Lord Chancellor, Menzies Campbell, Angus Grossart the merchant banker, Jean McFadden the ex-leader of Glasgow City Council and Lord Gordon, founder of Radio Clyde who holidayed with Ramsay and Dewar shortly before he had his heart attack, according to the Sunday Times, August 15, 1999, the Sunday Times of June 15, (2003) quoted Dorril saying that:
…politicians including Dewar, John Smith, Gordon Brown, George Foulkes, George Robertson and Robin Cook were precisely the types the intelligence services longed to see take control of the Labour party and he believes that contemporaries and acquaintances of these leading Scottish Labour figures took active roles in organisations sponsored and endorsed by MI6 and the CIA. […] Elizabeth Smith (John Smith’s widow) was approached. So was Margaret “Meta” Ramsay, president of the Scottish National Union of Students between 1959 and 1961, who worked at the Fund for International Student Co-operation (FISC) where the organiser was George Foulkes. “In 1969 the Radical Student Alliance published a pamphlet alleging that FISC was a CIA front,” says Dorril. “That was denied, but in 1969 Ramsay joined MI6. She was a specialist in the Scandinavian states.”
As with Lord Haskel (above) Ramsay has also been involved with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and is Chair in the House of Lords of the Zionist Labour Friends of Israel. She was a ‘member of a parliamentary delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories (30 October – 3 November 2004) under the auspices of the Labour Friends of Israel.
An Honorary Visiting Fellow in Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies, a lifelong member of the Labour Party and the Fabian Society she is also an executive member of the Labour Finance and Industry Group which connected Demos to those representing Big Business and right-wing think tanks. Ramsay is also involved with the Labour Movement for Europe and the women’s equality lobby Emily’s List – which she helped to found – and the 300 Group. She is a member of the Advisory council of the Smith Memorial Trust, a former consultant to Control Risks Group, and chair of the advisory board of the Centre for Scottish Public Policy—which I wrote on some time ago in relation to its connections to New Labour.
With her place on the Intelligence and Security Committee, Ramsay is also closely involved in Parliamentary oversight of SIS, GCHQ and the Security Service. Established in 1994, the Committee “operates within the ‘ring of secrecy’ and has wide access to the range of Agency activities and to highly classified information”.
The committee comprises: Paul Murphy (chair), Michael Ancram QC, Alan Beith MP, Ben Chapman] MP, George Howarth MP, Michael Mates MP, Richard Ottaway MP and Dari Taylor MP.
Ramsay’s involvement with the Foreign Policy Centre are an indication of an, if not out-sourced, certainly a close relationship to some of the Foreign Office and MI6’s activities, overseen by Ramsay. For instance in the field of ‘Public Diplomacy’, Mark Leonard and Vidhya Alakeson’s FPC study ”Going Public: Diplomacy for the Information Society” outlined techniques which governments could use to influence public opinion in other countries. “It has had a tangible influence: the Foreign Office launched a public diplomacy department shortly after the report was launched, and its influence could be seen in the British Council’s five-year plan. The Swedish Foreign Ministry declared it ‘the most ambitious study of the future of diplomacy’.”
The FPC’s ‘partner’s’ with intelligence and/or government connections have included:
* Accenture — the re-branded consultants Authur Anderson.
* AON — Headquartered in Chicago AON is a risk management and insurance group engaged in counter-terrorism. It is ranked as one of the top 250 U.S.-based companies on the Fortune 500 list, The company recently pulled out of Burma; Aon featured on the ‘Dirty List’ of companies directly or indirectly funding the regime in Burma.
* Armor Group — An international defensive protective security company, specialising in ‘Protective Security Services and Security Training. It provides security services to first world national governments, international inter-governmental organizations and multinational corporations. Directors include Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Jerry Hoffman (served in field and staff roles for the US Air Force (Intelligence) and the CIA in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia), Noel Philp (Formerly an officer in both the British and New Zealand armies serving primarily in the SAS), David Seato (Previously he had worked for 11 years with Schlumberger Oilfield Services). Christopher Beese (has a military background including service with the British Army and Sultan of Oman’s forces, seconded to the UK Foreign Office in Bosnia in 1993 and was awarded an MBE for services in the Balkans — the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom awarded Armor’s subsidiary, Defense Systems Limited (DSL), an expanded contract for mine clearance operations in Kosovo), Simon Havers (ex-BBC World Service Television), John Biles (Chubb Security plc, also Amey plc), Iain Paterson (14 years with BP before joining Enterprise Oil plc]], ITE Group plc and Sondex plc and a non-executive director of Paladin Resources plc, Hunting plc).
Armor Group security experience includes: oil and gas facilities and pipeline projects in Russia, Ecuador, Colombia and Kazakhstan; humanitarian operations in Africa and the Balkans; embassy installation security in the Middle East, Far East and Africa. The group also claim to have “provided secure communications for the new banking sector in Iraq.” As part of a team headed by Bechtel National Inc., Armor Group has been awarded a prime $10 billion contract by the US Air Force. Armor Holdings Products manufactures and sells a broad range of high quality branded law enforcement equipment. Such products include ballistic resistant vests and tactical armor, less-than-lethal munitions, anti-riot products and narcotic identification kits.
* The Barrow Cadbury Trust — Claim to ‘build bridges between policy makers and grassroots activity’ and works closely with the FPC in India, Africa and Latin America. Barrow Cadbury supported (£35,000) the European Civic Citizenship and Inclusion Index launched by The Foreign Policy Centre in partnership with the British Council and the Migration Policy Group. Its Director, Sukhvinder Stubbs, is a Trustee of Demos and a member of the Better Regulation Task Force quango. Phoebe Griffith is the Senior Development Manager at the Barrow Cadbury Trust and managed the Foreign Policy Centre’s programme on International Development and acted as an advisor to the FCO Global Opportunity Fund’s Emerging Markets programme.
Anna Southall, the administrator is also a member The Big Lottery Fund: the name used to refer to the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) who are working closely together pending legislation to create a new Lottery distributor. The NOF was the government helping itself to Lottery money to fund various government PR initiatives. She was given a medal by NATO’s Lord Robertson (awarded by the Carnegie Corporation). She also directs Futurebuilders —a £125 million investment fund backed by the Home Office Active Community Unit. It was set up to help develop the capacity of the voluntary and community sector to deliver public services. She is also a member of the Spoliation Advisory Panel. Barrow Cadbury also sponsor Demos (“Rethinking Inclusive Communities”) and use Fishburn Hedges as PR.
* the Body Shop
* [BP International
* The British Council
* Clifford Chance
* The Commonwealth Institute
* Control Risks Group: The FPC have a cosy relationship with CRG, some of their output is basically a recycling of their material after it has been commented upon by Baroness Ramsay and Paul Wilkinson
* the Employability Forum — this was a partner with the FPC in the Mezzanine (the overall trading company which all the clients based in the mezzanine belonged to).
* the European Commission
* the European Parliament in the UK,
* Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
* Friends Provident
* Global Legacy
* John Moore’s University,
* Shell International
* Stone Ashdown Charitable Trust
* World Service
* The Webb Memorial Trust
* Weber Shandwick Adamson
* The Wellcome Trust
The FPC advisory committee is:
*Sir Michael Butler — formerly the British Permanent Representative to the European Community, and was the originator of the Hard Ecu plan and chairman of the City’s European Committee. He is currently chairman of ICL Pathway and ICL’s European Strategy Board.
* Fred Halliday — Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics. He is best-known for his work on Great Power relations, International Relations in the Middle East and on the causes and impact of International Revolutions.
* Baroness Helena Kennedy — is a leading criminal lawyer as well as the Chair of the [[British Council]] and Chancellor of Oxford Brookes university. She is Chair of the London International Festival of Theatre, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and President of the National Children’s Bureau.
* Lord Levy — has spent thirty years at the forefront of commerce. He has built up several successful companies, beginning with the worldwide record and music publishing group of companies, MAGNET, sold to Warner Bros. in 1988. In addition, he has taken a lead in public and community affairs nationally and globally. He is currently a member of the International Board of Governors of the Peres Center for Peace; a member of the FCO Panel 2000 and a member of the World Commission on Israel Diaspora relations. He is also Chairman of the Foundation for Education; Patron of the British Music Industry Awards and President of Community Service Volunteers and Jewish Care.
* Adam Lury — is a Founding Partner of HHCL & Partners, the international advertising agency, renowned for its innovative and award-winning campaigns for blue chip clients including the AA, BA, BP, Bacardi-Martini and Fuji Film. Adam was born in Tripoli and grew up in East Africa. His influential work as Group Planning Director for Boase Massimi Pollitt saw him take ‘Planning’ to Japan, the Middle East, Far East and West Africa. He also founded the agency’s econometrics unit. He is author with Simon Gibson of “Dangerous Data” and “Blood Data” and the Foreign Policy Centre novella “Need to Know”, which explores how Governments should respond to health-scares in a febrile political culture.
* Lord Paul — is Chairman of Caparo Group, the U.K. based industrial company which he founded in 1968. He was President of the UK Steel Association in 1994 and 1995 and was raised to the Peerage as Baron Paul of Marylebone in October 1996. Lord Paul is a member of the DTI Indo-British Partnership, advising on steel, mining and investment interests and is Ambassador for British Business.
An old friend of Elizabeth Smith was created a peer in 1995 following the death of her husband, John Smith. It is said that Smith was once approached to join MI6 along with her long time friend from University days Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale|Meta Ramsay]], who went on to be a career spy. Baroness Smith is a member of the board of several organisations with interests in Russia and FSU countries. She also has interests in culture and the arts and is the President of Scotland’s national opera company, Scottish Opera as well as being Chairman of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Her other positions include being an Advisory Council Member of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce; Vice Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Russia; Governor of the English Speaking Union; Board Member of the Centre for European Reform and a Trustee of the Mariinsky Theatre Trust and the ‘conflict resolution’ organisation LINKS, which shares an office with rhe CER’s APCO lobbyist Maurice Fraser.
Smith is a trustee of the John Smith Memorial Trust and was on the supervisory board of spy firm Hakluyt until the end of 2002, and a member of the Press Complaints Commission, a non-executive director of Morgan Grenfell (Scotland) and a member of BP’s Scottish Advisory Board Scotland.
To return to the Smith Instiute its last two directors are:
* Baroness Rendell of Babergh: This is Ruth Rendell of crime novelist fame. One wonders what the connection with John Smith is here, given that Rendell’s ‘psychological crime novels’ explore themes such as “sexual obsession, the effects of misperceived communication, chance and the humanness of criminals.” She also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine (here on the “effects of secrets kept and crimes done”). One can also find ironic connections to New Labour in a few titles of her works: ‘A Fatal Inversion’, ‘Put on by Cunning,’ ‘Talking to Strange Men.’ She was made CBE in 1996 and a life peer in 1997. She sits in the House of Lords as a Labour baroness.
* The Bishop of Birmingham, the Right Rev. Dr John Sentamu, the media obsessed Sentamu was appointed England’s first black archbishop in 2005, when he was made Archbishop of York. Sentamu was a judge in the High Court in Uganda where he incurred the disapproval of Idi Amin, and then came to the UK in 1974. He has worked on inquiries into the killings of Stephen Lawrence and Damilola Taylor.
Staff of the Smith Institute include:
* Wilf Stevenson Director.
* Konrad Caulkett Programme Coordinator
* Ben Shimshon Administrator
* Danielle Bourke Assistant
* Tony Pilch Researcher/Editor
Before joining the Smith Institute, Pilch was a member of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and worked on a number of reports for the Prime Minister. his main areas of responsibility are editing the Smith Institute’s seminar reports and developing the Smith Institute’s programme of research and education on social and economic policy; and on regional economic issues.
The Smith Institute joined in partnership with Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited (MSD) in 2002. MSD has been sponsoring the work of the Smith Institute as a corporate member since 2002. Amongst other things, Corporate membership allows MSD to attend and be involved in a range of seminars and other events each year. The report continues:
During 2004 and 2005, MSD also sponsored two of the Smith Institute’s series of four seminars which were taking place under the umbrella theme of ‘Science, Technology and the Economy’. Each seminar took the form of a breakfast meeting which brought together a mix of attendees including ministers, backbenchers, special advisers, civil servants, business and industrial leaders, and specialists. There were two speakers at each event followed by an opportunity for questions and answers.
The rationale behind their involvement is described as to serve MSD by bringing their views on ’emerging issues in today’s world’ to the ‘attention of some of society’s key decision makers’ and ‘provide a forum for constructive dialogue’.