Watching briefs - bits and snips to keep you abreast of the Furediites
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 - LM co-publisher and director of the Institute of Ideas (IoI) - pushing the Furediite line.
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
Likewise, when climate change was discussed on The Moral Maze back in 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
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
To celebrate his 60th birthday, Spiked has just published an interview
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
The Furedi piece seems to have been triggered by an interview we published in which George Monbiot discusses the politics and tactics of the LM group. Furedi
seems pretty miffed about it,
comparing us not just to McCarthyites but to
the Spanish Inquisition (!), not to mention anti-Semitic
Warming to this theme, Spiked'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.'
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 Hutu militias.
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)
Nick Cohen 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 RCP 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's written 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 Manifesto Club whose steering committee includes Frank Furedi, Brendan O'Neill - editor of Spiked, Josie Appleton (Spiked/ Institute of Ideas), Dolan Cummings (Spiked/research and editorial director of Institute of Ideas) and Bill Durodié (Living Marxism, Spiked, Institute of Ideas).
Keeping abreast of dodgy conferences
Keeping abreast of the Furediites 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 Spiked.
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 small print for
the conference, though, that you'll discover it's being
sponsored by the infant feeding industry, ie the corporations normally
accused of the hard sell to new and expectant mothers. And, as it happens, Furedi and Lee's research was funded by INFORM - a front group for the industry.
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,
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 LM network.
Spiked, the successor to LM, 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 'anti-LM conspiracy-mongering' (see below) that connected them to Durkin.
The Science Media Centre, whose director Fiona Fox
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.
But Sense About Science, whose director and her deputy 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 'anti-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 RCP/LM - 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
Long-time Furediite Thomas Deichmann, writing in Spiked,
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 website for 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 Farringdon Road. And keen Furediite, Timandra Harkness is part of the team. Needless to say, Timandra has no background in engineering.
More Furediites at HFEA!
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Pro-cloning lobbyist helping to regulate cloning!
Hard on the heels of renewed controversy about how LMers
are colonising the infrastructure of public communication used by
the science and medical establishment, comes news that Juliet Tizzard 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, which
'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 AstraZeneca.
Prior to joining PROGRESS, Tizzard appeared in the Channel 4 TV series Against Nature,
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.
investigations revealed that certain of the programme makers and
several key contributors to the series, including Tizzard, had been
closely involved with LM. As well as contributing articles to LM, Tizzard has also contributed to the LM network's later fronts: Spiked, and the Institute of Ideas.
Tizzard appears to regard 'spin' 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.
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 LM network and star of Against Nature, the sociologist Frank Furedi.
Freedom for whom?
Times Higher Education Supplement, 11 February 2005
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.
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, the Science Media Centre, the Genetic Interest Group, the Progress Educational Trust, Genepool
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
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 Times Higher Education Supplement has been reduced to employing the Godfather of the LM
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?
The article provides Furedi with a platform to bemoan George Monbiot's exposé 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 Monbiot article. 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
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.'
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
Perhaps the most incisive comments in the article
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
Disinfopedia, PR Watch's collaborative project to produce a directory of PR firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests, 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.
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'
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
Here's a bit from the WSJ story:
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.
Read the full story.
'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.
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
' "Who is that?" you nudge the person next to you. "Oh, that's the Institute of Ideas / Sense about Science / Spiked person," comes the reply. "Can't remember their name - they're new here."'
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 e-politix - took time off revolutionary communist duties in 1984 to fly out to Sydney for the wedding
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
LM and Spiked editor, Mick Hume, has used his Times column as a platform for fellow LM-er Ann Furedi (formerly Ann Bradley, alias Ann Burton) to defend herself against recent revelations in the Telegraph.
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.
In the Hume
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 Ellen Raphael gain employment there.
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 Times piece.
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,
Claire Fox was SPUC militant
Blast from the past: little known fact - LM co-publisher and 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 Branch Organiser
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 Fiona Fox
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 IoI brings a Furediite spin to the burning moral issues of the day on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze.
Spiked's corporate backers
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
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
Gimmie dat ol' time techno-religion
A letter in the Times from Doug Parr of Greenpeace responds to a recent Times piece on the debate over nanothechnology. It was written by devoted Furediite, Tracey Brown, 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.
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)
Durodié and the power of ironies
The final programme in the recent Power of Nightmares BBC TV series was blessed by Bill Durodié, described as 'director of the international centre for security analysis at King's College London'.
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 Durodié's LM 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 Durodié is anyone's guess, though he seems to have shared an Institute of Ideas platform with him and Frank Furedi in November 2003. Durodié'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
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 Durodié positioned himself as an 'Advisor to the Prime Minister's Cabinet Office Strategy Unit study The Costs and Benefits of Genetically Modified (GM) Crops.'