Watching briefs - bits and snips to keep you abreast of the Furediites
Collateral Damage of Ideas
2007 was the year in which the UK's premier social science funding body - the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) - was 'pleased to headline-sponsor the Battle of Ideas'. This is an annual weekend long series of debates organised by the Institute of Ideas.
The ESRC is not the first prestigious funding body to fall hook, line and sinker for the idea that the LMers are merely out to encourage open and lively debate. In the past the NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) sponsored Spiked to organise online debates for it on a whole series of environmental issues. The net result was that the NERC got debates deftly slanted to the LMers' anti-environmentalist agenda. Staggeringly, when challenged about this tie-up, the NERC responded, 'NERC is satisfied that there is no evidence suggesting that, on environmental matters, spiked have any particular agenda'!
The ESRC's headline-sponsorship meant the IoI was able to gain not only public monies and credibility with other potential sponsors, but could put the ESRC's logo all over its activities. What did the ESRC get in return? The war crimes apologist Thomas Deichmann - editor of LM's sister publication Novo - sitting on a panel at the ESRC- funded, highly prestigious, EGN 'Genomics and Society' conference which the IoI with Tony Gilland as the Chair was allowed to run, and invite speakers for - a mini 'battle of ideas' panel 'debate' heavily skewed in favour of its own agenda.
Dr. Alex Plows, one of the social scientists at the EGN event told us, 'This was our conference and it was colonised! A highly complex and sensitive ethical debate was framed into a polarising, 'you're either for science and progress, or you're a pro-lifer'. Another familiar LM trope reproduced yet again was that regulation is 'unethical' becuase it holds back 'science and progress'. This is simply ridiculous. Not so much a 'battle of ideas' as the 'collateral damage of ideas'!'
Dr. Plows also said, 'I am also absolutely furious that Deichmann was given a platform at the EGN conference by Gilland. The association compromises the integrity of UK social science.'
The Institute of Ideas/Battle of Ideas debate was supposed to be about striking the right balance between 'regulating new science to reassure the public it is safe, ethical and beneficial' and 'encouraging research and endeavour'. But the record of Deichmann and the LMers' in acting as apologists for the atrocities of the Serb and Hutu militias should be enough to make anyone think twice about having the IoI help shape the debate on critical ethical issues.
Their Master's Voice
Debating whether climate change has become the 'New Religion' on
BBC Radio 4's
The Moral Maze
earlier this year, we got more than regular panelist Claire Fox -
co-publisher and director of the
Institute of Ideas
(IoI) - pushing the Furediite
As a poster to a Channel 4 Forum pointed out:
Yep, and guess what? Not only is Claire Her Master's Voice Fox a leading light in the RCP/LM (now fronted as the Institute of Ideas) which Martin Durkin is such a faithful follower of, but the third guest was James Panton, also a well-known member of the sect/cult. My, the RCP does get around these days...
Likewise, when climate change was discussed on The Moral Maze back i
n December 2003,
long time RCP/LMer - Ceri Dingle - popped up as an expert. On each of these occasions, there was nothing in the programme to alert the listener to any connection between Fox and the expert she was supposedly cross-examining.
In the case of Dingle, this left Fox free in the panel discussion to defend Dingle's points - Let's forget about Kyoto. We want the poor driving Ferraris!.
To celebrate his 60th birthday,
has just published an
with Frank Furedi in which he 'discusses environmentalism, conspiracy theories and the network of McCarthyites slurring his name'. This network, according to Spiked editor Brendan O'Neill, is clustered around Guardian columnist George Monbiot and includes LobbyWatch.
The Furedi piece seems to have been triggered by an
we published in which George Monbiot discusses the politics and tactics of the
Furedi seems pretty miffed about it, comparing us not just to McCarthyites but to the Spanish Inquisition (!), not to mention anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.
Warming to this theme,
's editor suggests, 'the conspiratorially-minded amongst you might well spot some similarities between Monbiot and Co's conspiracies and those of anti-Semitic websites.' The fact that Furedi has 'Jewish origins' also gets a mention.
We were intrigued by this anxiety to paint Furedi as victim. Likewise George Monbiot, who told us,
'Fascinating, isn't it, how sensitive to criticism he is, and how the man who professes to wage war on victimhood turns out to have a monumental persecution complex.'
Furedi's self-pity needs to be measured against the real vilification and persecution experienced by those who've run up against the kinds of forces Frank and his followers have been happy to encourage and excuse - from
ethically challenged corporations to the Serb and
Politics of Fear
Among the things
Furedi seems most miffed about in his Spiked interview (see above) is our failure to pay attention to the 13 books he's so far published. Furedi attributes this failure to our 'severe intellectual limitations'.
Furedi's last book -
Politics of Fear - was reviewed by John Dunn, Professor of Political Theory at King's College, Cambridge. Dunn describes the book as made up not so much of ideas as 'small clusters of verbiage' in loose association. Its arguments he found mostly fatuous or implausible. 'Read as a whole,' writes Dunn, 'it is a work of almost unrelenting vacuity.' (
Reasons to be cheerful?
, TLS March 3 2006)
is equally blunt in his assessment of Furedi's contribution to another book -
Debating Humanism: 'His essay shows in embarrassing detail the leader of the
isn't very bright.'
Pro-testing and the Manifesto Club
Blogger Chris Brooke suggests that the Pro-test group, which supports the new animal testing facility in Oxford, may have been infiltrated by Furediites. He notes the involvement of, amongst others, James Panton who'
for Spiked and done quite a bit of work for the Institute of Ideas, especially their
Battle of Ideas
events of which he was a co-convenor.
Panton's also a co-founder of the
includes Frank Furedi, Brendan O'Neill - editor of
, Josie Appleton (Spiked/
Institute of Ideas
), Dolan Cummings (Spiked/research and editorial director of Institute of Ideas) and
, Spiked, Institute of Ideas).
Keeping abreast of dodgy conferences
Keeping abreast of the
is given a whole new meaning by a
conference on parenting
at the University of Kent, Frank Furedi's base and key recruiting ground. Furedi's not only speaking at the event but is also one of its three 'coordinators' - the other two being Ellie Lee and Jennie Bristow, both ardent fans of Furry Frank: the former a director of the
Institute of Ideas
and the latter a commissioning editor for
The conference appears to have grown out of some research on infant feeding by Furedi and Lee that explored the 'pressure' put on new mothers to breastfeed. It's only by working right down to the bottom of the
for the conference, though, that you'll discover it's being sponsored by the infant feeding industry, ie the corporations normally accused of the
to new and expectant mothers. And, as it happens, Furedi and Lee's research was funded by
- a front group for the industry.
The antipathy towards breastfeeding is all part of the Furediites' attempt to break the basic bond with human life and nurturing. This, in turn, is necessitated by their extreme anti-nature, anti-humanist position.
The Great LM Network Swindle
Channel 4's broadcast of Martin Durkin's
The Great Global Warming Swindle has not only stirred up
a mass of controversy
but has lead to some considerable focus on Durkin's decidedly dodgy previous as a director, including his links to the
, the successor to
published an admiring 'interview' with Durkin in which it claimed 'the film poked some very big holes in the global warming consensus', demanded more of the same and denounced the '
LM conspiracy-mongering' (see below) that connected them to Durkin.
Science Media Centre
, whose director
is an ardent Furediite, maintained a deafening silence on the issue, which is a mite curious when you consider SMC's supposed remit of encouraging the proper reporting of scientific issues.
Sense About Science
are also staunch Furediites, went one better and issued a
misleading press release
that implied there was support for Durkin's concerns from leading British climate scientists - something that on investigation turned out
not to be true
Sense About Science's unconcern about distortions of climate change science by Durkin and his LM network friends should, of course, be measured against their extreme
concern about celebrities
endorsing things like aromatherapy and homeopathy.
'Anti-LM conspiracy mongering'
There's some classic sleight of hand in
Brendan O'Neill's recent complaint about all the '
LM conspiracy-mongering' linking Martin Durkin to the LM network.
O'Neill writes, 'a few people who contributed articles to
LM appeared as talking heads on
Against Nature. That's all. Not as exciting as the crazed and wide-eyed web conspiracy theories make it sound, I know. Sorry.' (
Apocolypse my arse
But what O'Neill fails to mention
is that Durkin's deputy for
Against Nature was Eve Kaye, who was not only a key figure in
- like her sister (Pandora Kaye) - but the wife
of James Heartfield, a key RCP ideologue and the co-author of its manifesto.
Something that might just explain why, 'Line by line, point by point, Against Nature followed the agenda laid down by LM.' (George Monbiot, The Revolution has been televised)
Attacking the political
challenges Greenpeace's charitable status in Germany, arguing that they act 'politically'. This erstwhile revolutionary also accuses them of illegality and uses his
Spiked piece to reckon up every instance of trespass on farmland or 'guerilla' labelling of products in supermarkets that Greenpeace has carried out during its environmental campaigns in Germany. (Just how 'charitable' is Greenpeace?)
Deichmann's previous writings for the LM network suggest he's considerably less particular about certain other crimes - crimes like torture, rape and murder.
Deichmann even put in an appearance as the final defence witness at the trial in the Hague of Dusko Tadic, who went on to be convicted of crimes against humanity, including 'killings, beatings and forced transfers' of civilians, as well as a particularly horrific sexual mutilation.
Another cog in the works
The Furediite love of colonising science communication bodies has now taken in even engineers. According to the
Engaging Cogs, it is funded by EPSRC (the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council) as a forum to explore how society thinks about engineering, and it's hosted by the
Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford
. But not only does the website have a decidedly Spiked-ish look to it but
Engaging Cogs is based, like Spiked, in LM's old offices at
. And keen Furediite, Timandra Harkness is part of the
. Needless to say, Timandra has no background in engineering.
More Furediites at HFEA!
Seems there's yet another Furediite embedded in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government body which, amongst other things, licenses and monitors all human embryo research conducted in the UK.
Ann Furedi used to work at HFEA (before she went back to direct the abortion lobby group BPAS), Juliet Tizzard is working there (see next item) and so too, it seems, is Ann's big chum Vishnee Sauntoo, when she's not back at BPAS with Ann.
Imagine the row if it emerged that a whole series of people from, say, the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child were floating effortlessly in and out of HFEA. There'd be an outcry. Yet there seems to be a regular revolving door between HFEA and controversial lobby groups like BPAS and Progress.
From: Vishnee Sauntoo <Vishnee.Seenundun@HFEA.GOV.UK>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 15:36:04 -0000
To: Press Office <Press.Office@hfea.gov.uk>
Subject: HFEA press office contacts update
Just to let you know that I'm off on secondment for a year. From 4th April 2005 I will be working for bpas (the UK's largest abortion provider) as their Press and PR manager. I do not know my number yet but my new e-mail address will be Vishnee.email@example.com
After 24th March 2005 I will no longer be contactable at the HFEA. Lara Gorman the other press officer is also leaving as of 23rd March 2005.
If you need to contact the HFEA press office, John Paul Maytum, Head of Media Relations is still contactable on tel. 020 7291 8225. James Healy is a new press officer and will be contactable on 020 7291 8226. And of course the 24 hour HFEA press mobile number remains 07771 981 920.
I hope this information is useful. I've really enjoyed working with you and look forward to working with you again in the near future. I shall be in contact soon.
All the best,
Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority
21 Bloomsbury Street
Tel: 020 7291 8224
Fax: 020 7291 8201
Mobile: 07771 981 920
helping to regulate cloning!
Hard on the heels of renewed controversy about how
ers are colonising the infrastructure of public communication used by the science and medical establishment, comes news that
has become the Policy Manager of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Prior to joining HFEA, Tizzard was director of the lobby group,
Progress Educational Trust
'believes that reproductive and genetic technologies have much to offer' and argues against their regulation. As Tizzard put it, 'our organisation exists to make sure that access to new technologies is not restricted by parliament or by doctors'.
PROGRESS, which is even equivocal about human reproductive cloning,
enjoys a close relationship with
Prior to joining PROGRESS, Tizzard appeared in the Channel 4 TV series
, which represented environmentalists as Nazis responsible for death and deprivation in the Third World, and argued germline gene therapy and human cloning would liberate humanity from nature.
Subsequent investigations revealed that certain of the programme makers and several key contributors to the series, including Tizzard, had been closely involved with
s well as contributing
, Tizzard has also contributed to the LM network's later fronts:
, and the
Institute of Ideas
Tizzard appears to regard
as a valid way of overcoming public concerns: 'Three cheers for PPL Therapeutics! Not for their success in cloning pigs (although this is worth at least three cheers), but for their success with the media coverage of those five little piggies. Press coverage in the United Kingdom of the cloned pigs was almost universally positive... Perhaps PPL Therapeutics is just good at media spin. But maybe media spin isn't such a bad thing in science... perhaps instead of spin doctors, what we need is spin scientists!'
The news that an ideologically-driven pro-cloning lobbyist
is working for a Government body 'regulating' cloning came shortly before the news that HFEA has granted a licence to the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, which cloned Dolly the Sheep, to create stem cells from embryos via cloning.
Tizzard is not the first Furediite to gain entry to the HFEA. HFEA's former Director of Communications was Ann Furedi, wife of the ideological 'Godfather' of the
network and star of
, the sociologist Frank Furedi.
Freedom for whom?
Times Higher Education Supplement, 11 February 2005
Your article What's a nice Trot doing in a place like this? (January 28) accuses me of peddling conspiracy theories about Frank Furedi and other former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party. But I don't have a theory. I've reported a number of phenomena and then asked what is happening and why. This, if I'm not mistaken, is what journalists are supposed to do.
Some of these phenomena
should be of interest to your readers.
Former RCP members control much of the formal infrastructure of public communication used by the science and medical establishment. They hold key positions in
Sense About Science
Genetic Interest Group
Progress Educational Trust
and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. They have used these positions to promote the interests of pharmaceutical and biotech companies and to dismiss the concerns of the public and non-governmental organisations.
Given that the RCP was a tiny splinter of a Trotskyist subgroup, with just a handful of disciples
, given that most of the people who have taken these posts do not have a background in science, and given that the movement has a long history of entryism, its former members' colonisation of these bodies is unlikely to have happened by chance.
The article was billed as a piece about academic freedom. The implication appears to be that academics should be free from public criticism or investigation. Is this really the position of The Times Higher? If so, is there not a conflict between academic freedom and the freedom of the press?
Furedi rehabilitation effort
Largely unread except by academic job hunters, the
Supplement has been reduced to employing the Godfather of the
network, Frank Furedi, as one of its columnists. And it has set about his rehabilitation with an article entitled,
What's a nice Trot doing in a place like this?
provides Furedi with a platform to bemoan George Monbiot's exposť of how former members of Furedi's
Revolutionary Communist Party
have turned up in a string of different lobby groups used to promote genetic engineering and other controversial genetic technologies. (
Invasion of the Entryists
Furedi claims to have been 'dogged' by the
. He tells the
Times Higher that not only were copies sent to his vice-chancellor but even when he was in Phoenix, Arizona, on a lecture tour, people were 'coming up to me with copies of Monbiot's article asking me what I was up to'.
For Furedi this constitutes persecution akin to the worst excesses of the last century. 'It is so fascistic. It is McCarthyism,' he complains. 'It was characteristic of the Right to talk about masonic conspiracy, about Jewish plots, but now we are seeing parts of the Left being obsessed with this kind of stuff.'
Putting the sending of articles to one's vice chancellor, or being asked questions in a meeting in Arizona, on a par with fascistic oppression, McCarthyite persecution and the scapegoating of Jews, is ironic given the contempt Furedi is always expressing for victim culture. In his own case, it seems, he's more than happy to invoke the kind of victimhood he's always railed against.
Perhaps the most incisive comments in the
are those of the sociologist Laurie Taylor who wonders why, 'all these former Trotskyists agree in detail on what appears to be in essence a right-wing platform and how can they call themselves academics if they appear to deny independent thought? You might have expected them to travel in a variety of directions after the collapse of their revolutionary dream in the Nineties, but many peddle similar lines.' In fact, the real give away is that members of Furedi's 'network' never stray beyond their own narrow orthodoxy.
Heartfield bypasses RCP background
, PR Watch's collaborative project to produce a directory of
that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of
, governments and
, has reported the deletion of crucial information in their
profile of James Heartfield
'On 22 December 2004, the James Heartfield article was vandalised to remove references to:
Heartfield's involvement with the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-authorship of its manifesto.
His pseudonym James Hughes.
His wife Eve Kaye and her work on the anti-environmentalism documentary Against Nature.
A link to a GM Watch profile of the LM group.
This is certainly the work of someone familiar enough with James Heartfield to know his place and year of birth, names of his daughters, and six different publications he has written for. I am afraid I can't resist the temptation to suggest that this may be Heartfield himself. Members of the LM group are certainly less keen on free speech when they are on the receiving end.'
'I totally wasted 12 years of my life'
A recent story in the Wall Street Journal provides food for thought for those former members and suporters of Frank Furedi's Revolutionary Communist Party who've found themselves wondering why the RCP had such a divisive effect on the left and how come key RCP members can just stroll into jobs in sensitive positions within the British establishment, despite their former association with the Irish republican organizations etc., even turning up as official advisors on 'terrorism'.
Here's a bit from the WSJ story:
I totally wasted 12 years of my life, says Paul Wartena, an ex-MLPN member who was so dedicated to the cause he used to donate 20% of his salary to the fake party.
Mr. Boeve, now 74, scoffs at his acolyte: He was an idiot.
Now a researcher at a university in Utrecht, Mr. Wartena wants Dutch intelligence to pay him back for all his donations.
'Something odd is happening at science policy meetings'
So begins an article by biologist and social scientist, Dr Tom Wakeford, in
Science & Policy
- a publication of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Wakeford continues, 'Every time a reasonable old soul turns up to suggest that everyday people are actually quite sensible in their attitudes towards science and technology, out comes a response from a stranger at the head of the table. No, they say, the public don't know enough. Listening to their ignorance and prejudice will lead to the end of civilisation.
' Who is that? you nudge the person next to you. Oh, that's the
Institute of Ideas
Sense about Science
person, comes the reply. Can't remember their name - they're new here.'
Wakeford concludes that though he's all for free speech in debates on science and technology, he does have qualms about how this 'entryist clique can get so much money from large foundations and trans-national corporations, while also getting invited to major policy meetings by government departments'.
Elton meets the RCP!
Blast from the past: Bruno Waterfield, long time Furediite - these days at
- took time off revolutionary communist duties in 1984 to fly out to Sydney for the
of his sister Renate Blauel to Elton John. Bruno was under instructions to try to get a contribution to Party funds. With a Furediite shaking his collection tin under the bed, no wonder the marriage didn't last.
Hume uses Times column as promo for Ann Furedi
editor, Mick Hume, has used his
as a platform for fellow LM-er Ann Furedi (formerly Ann Bradley, alias Ann Burton) to defend herself against recent revelations in the
. These showed how the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which Furedi heads, is guiding women more than six months pregnant to a Barcelona Clinic for abortions that are illegal under both British and Spanish law.
piece Ann Furedi scoffs at 'any notion that BPAS is run as her personal political crusade'. Furedi tells us she has only been chief executive 'for 16 months, during which there have been no policy changes'. But Furedi didn't come fresh to BPAS, as this suggests, but spent many years as a leading light - its Director of Communications - quite apart from helping LM place-people like
gain employment there.
Hume's connections with the Furediites has been a long one. He was recruited into their Revolutionary Communist Tendency as far back as 1981, while a student of American politics at Manchester, during a 'Workers March for Irish Freedom'. Needless to say, this is not something he touched on in his
On a deeper level, the championing of
abortion right up to the point of birth
is part of the underlying callousness that marks out the Furediites and their attempt to break the basic bond with human life and nurturing, which results from their extreme anti-nature, anti-humanist position.
Claire Fox was SPUC militant
Blast from the past:
little known fact -
Institute of Ideas
(IoI) director, Claire Fox, was originally a fierce anti-abortion campaigner. At the time she was recruited into Furedi's Revolutionary Communist Tendency at Warwick University in 1980, she was active with the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC). Fox was drawn in to the RCT by its campaigning work around Irish republicanism. Her devout Catholicism and anti-abortion militancy meant that for some time she was kept at arms length from full membership.
Claire later channelled her fervour into being a
for the RCP, in which role she favoured 'beating the shit' out of new recruits in order to turn them into 'good' party cadres. Her sister
followed in Claire's wake, apparently experiencing no problems in reconciling her active RCP involvement with working for a Roman Catholic organisation - Cafod. Nowadays, Fiona heads the
Science Media Centre
while Claire as well as heading up the
brings a Furediite spin to the burning moral issues of the day on BBC Radio 4's
The Moral Maze
Spiked's corporate backers
Louis Proycet's a Marxist who has long challenged the politics and tactics of the Furediites. Here he is on Spiked: 'I think it is wrong to look at spiked as simply a bunch of whores who write whatever evil corporations pay them to write. That is much more the model of their frequent collaborator, the Hill and Knowlton PR firm. You'll recall that Hill and Knowlton developed the propaganda campaign for the first Gulf War, which included the false allegation that Iraqi troops were pulling Kuwaiti infants out of their cribs in a hospital nursery and throwing them on the cold floor. I imagine that if the Iraqi government had been able to put together a bigger bundle of cash for Hill and Knowlton, they might have written something that Michael Moore would be proud of.
'No, I don't think we are dealing with payoffs here. Instead, it is a matter of deep conviction that anything that gets in the way of Exxon, Pfizer and Monsanto is an obstacle to progress. When Monsanto came up with GM crops, I am sure that created as much excitement in their ranks as did Cuban victory over South African soldiers at the battle of Cuito Carnevale for people like us. Once you are absolutely convinced that capitalism = progress, why would you refuse to discover ways to finance your activities through contributions from the Exxons, Pfizers and Monsantos of the world? Frankly, if a search of tax records revealed that Furedi's various think-tanks were being funded by such outfits, my reaction would be similar to Claude Rains's (as Colonel Renault) in Casablanca: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!'
Gimmie dat ol' time techno-religion
A letter in the
from Doug Parr of Greenpeace responds to a recent
on the debate over nanothechnology. It was written by devoted Furediite,
, in her guise as director of
Sense about Science
. Predictably, she paints nanotechnology as progressively virtuous while those with concerns are presented as unrepresentative campaigning fundamentalists.
In fact, says Parr, the debate about nanotechnology involves such critical questions as 'how this technology is applied, and for whose benefits and with what risks.' All of which is, of course, a mite subtle for the Furediites who pride themselves on dismissing any concerns over technological impact as part of their startlingly uncritical defence of science, technology, progress and the Enlightenment.
As John Dunn notes in his review of Furedi's book
Politics of Fear, '
Conjuring up the Enlightenment simply to bolster our sense of individual and collective self-assurance is to emulate not Kant but the ostrich.' (Reasons to be cheerful?, TLS March 3 2006)
Durodiť and the power of ironies
in the recent
Power of Nightmares
BBC TV series was blessed by
, described as 'director of the international centre for security analysis at
King's College London'
This part of the programme argued that the war on terror is an example of the precautionary principle in operation, and akin to the calls for preventive action made by environmentalists in the absence of scientific evidence. Curiously, the programme used climate change as an illustration of this, despite the fact that the scientific consensus is clearly with the environmentalists while
chums, like the neo-cons pursuing the war on terror, are with the nay sayers!
At what point the maker of Power of Nightmares, Adam Curtis, ran across
Durodiť is anyone's guess, though he seems to have shared an Institute of Ideas platform with him and Frank Furedi in November 2003. Durodiť's involvement in the TV series not only damaged its credibility but was somewhat ironic given one of the programme's sub-themes - the insidious influence of elitist political groups who perceive themselves as vanguards and grind their ideological axes regardless of the truth.
The Furediites are, of course, seeking to position themselves as advisors to the British government on how to deal with the British people's 'irrational' fears about being gassed or blown up - just as
Durodiť positioned himself as an 'Advisor to the Prime Minister's Cabinet Office Strategy Unit study
The Costs and Benefits of Genetically Modified (GM) Crops.'
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