Foreign Policy Centre

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Contents

Introduction

The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) is a British think tank specialising in foreign policy. It was formed in 1998 and launched by Tony Blair with the aim of developing a "vision of a fair and rule-based world order".[1] It is pro-European. It has its origins on the centre-left of British politics, but works with all political parties. The late Robin Cook, the former Foreign Secretary was the FPC's founding President.

Iraq Commission

The FPC, in conjunction with Channel 4 Television, set up an independent, cross-party Commission in 2007 tasked with producing a blueprint for Britain's future involvement in Iraq. The Iraq Commission Report was launched in a special programme on Saturday 14 July at 7.30 pm, televised on Channel 4, a first for a British think tank. The Commission was chaired by Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, Baroness Jay of Paddington and Lord King of Bridgwater.

The FPC has connections to the British Labour Party though works with all political parties. The current director (appointed in August 2005) is former Labour MP and minister Stephen Twigg.


Intelligence Links

In 'Going Back — Diplomacy for the Information Society' a Foreign Policy Centre publication by Mark Leonard the first person he thanks is David Reddaway, the son (and himself a former ambassador to Iran) of Norman Reddaway of the Information Research Department [7], and that is how one could describe the FPC — the son of IRD. The publication begins with a dire warning on the threat posed by a "planet-wide campaign of anti-globalisation activists" who are stealing a march on diplomats and politicians.

The FPC has direct connections to the intelligence services through Baroness Meta Ramsay of the Labour Friends of Israel who is also chair of the Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom. Steven Dorril's history of MI6 states that Ramsay was secretary of the International Student Conference (ISC) which allegedly acted as a CIA front. Its offshoot the FISC "shared an office" with the Overseas Students Trust which also seems to have had intelligence connections and worked within the NUS. Along with the IPPR the FPC was named as offering access for cash.[2]

Rowena Young (FPC and School for Social Entrepreneurs) is married to Geoff Mulgan and was Director of "Kaleidoscope", a project where CAN directors Adele Blakebrough and Andrew Mawson worked on their first ventures.

Former Communications director of the FPC Rob Blackhurst claims:

My former employer, the Foreign Policy Centre (patron: Tony Blair), has accepted more than £100,000 from an unnamed Russian oligarch to establish a programme on Russian democracy. The money does not come directly; it is channelled through London PR companies presided over by a retinue of former new Labour special advisers. The PR people want to shift public sympathy away from Vladimir Putin, who is at odds with several oligarchs, and they are no doubt delighted that the project has led to a paper criticising Downing Street's closeness to the Russian president.[3]

The unnamed Russian oligarch was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, at that time the richest man in Russia.

The FPC has also published, 'Global Europe'[4] which stems from their project of the same name which aimed: " to provide concrete policy recommendations concerning the European Security Strategy and new initiatives for European action". An overview of its approach is set out in Global Europe: Implementing the European Security Strategy by Mark Leonard and Richard Gowan[5] which was produced in association with The British Council, The European Commission and Wilton Park ("an academically independent and non-profit-making Executive Agency of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Launched in 1946, it has become one of the world's leading centres for discussion of key international policy challenges, organising about 50 conferences a year while holding to the values of its founders to promote honest and open debate on the key issues." [6]

Rebranding Britain

One of the initial projects of the FPC was the "Re-branding of Britain". This concealed a number of moves, for instance the Arts Council of England's website explained the origin of the government "re-structuring" of the ACE as a spin-off from the "Re-branding of Britain" in the lead up to the millennium, which: "...builds on the much publicised "Cool Britannia" phenomenon, a phrase supposedly coined by John Major to characterise forward looking British culture, and the new Government's political alignment with the creative sector."

After the 1997 election a "Rebranding Britain" panel was chaired by then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, to help out business and tourism and to 'engage Government departments and other bodies in promoting the same message in their overseas activities.' Further committee meetings followed with the Department of Culture Media & Sport's (DCMS who are also bureaucratically responsible for broadcasting, film, press freedom and regulation) Creative Industries Task Force and Creative Industries Unit with Lord David Puttnam. Others — even the NME — thought of it all as another cynical PR exercise.[7]

Then according to the ACE site:

In July 1997 Tony Blair set out his vision for Britain:";The heart of all our work is one central theme: national renewal. Britain rebuilt as one nation, in which each citizen is valued and has a stake; in which no-one is excluded from opportunity and the chance to develop their potential; in which we make it, once more, our national purpose to tackle social division and inequality." To this end the Social Exclusion Unit has been set up to ensure that Government policy across all ministries takes on board the need to tackle poverty and promote social inclusion.'[8]


Conferences

The FPC organises conferences such as this in November 1999: "The USA in the International Community: Creating Effective Strategies for Multilateralism with the British American Security Information Council". In the immediate aftermath of the US elections, this conference "will assess and debate how the new political landscape will affect America's participation in international governance. Bringing together key figures from government, politics, the media, NGOs and business from both Europe and the US, the conference will focus on how proponents of multilateral frameworks can seek to foster strategies for maintaining and enhancing multilateral co-operation."

The Conference is by invitation only. The Guardian stated that: "The [FPC] will make foreign policy feel less like the preserve of an elite and more the topic of national conversation". It was initially funded from the following sources: BBC World Service, BP Amoco, lobbying firm Bruce Naughton Wade, Clifford Chance, Cluff Mining, Commonwealth Institute, Control Risks Group, Lord Gavron CBE, Paul Hamlyn, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Interbrand Newell and Sorrell, Rio Tinto and Royal Commonwealth Society. Control Risks (a 'private security firm') and its spin-offs has long had deep associations with (and gets some of its work through) MI5 and MI6, SAS and so forth.[9]

Mulgan and Leonard's ideas were put forward in conferences such as: "Does Britain Need a New Identity?"(3/11/97, ICA London) an "invite only lunchtime event to present the findings of the Demos report 'Britain TM' commissioned by the Design Council — and to serve as a focal point for gathering ideas and exploring ways of taking the recommendations forward. Speakers: Peter Mandelson MP, Geoff Mulgan, Andrew Marr, David Potter, Sir Colin Marshall, John Sorrell."[10]

Marshall is involved in political/business interfaces such as the Confederation of British Industry and The British American Business Council (and his financial interests are linked with tourism) he subsequently joined various government panels on ecology and business. Potter is the founder and chairman of Psion Plc. Marr is a replacement for David Frost at the BBC.

The report (published with Marshall's British Tourist Authority) confuses the 'brand' Britain and Britain itself. Demos still seemed caught up in Marxism Today's acceptance of postmodernists such as Baudrillard. The re-branding has the ultimate aim of making Britain attractive to foreign, particularly German and American, investors. The target consumer of this rebranding is an economic consumer and the rhetoric of national identity has shifted to that of marketing. It envisages a number of interlocking themes to exploit; Britain as an international hub, a creative nation in arts and sciences, an ethnically mixed country, a nation predisposed to business and commerce, an innovator in government and organisation, and committed to fairness.[11]

Other Events

On 20 June 2007, co-hosted an event entitled: "What are the challenges and opportunities for Gordon Brown with regard to Israel, Palestinians and the Near Middle East?" The curious aspect of the event was the co-host: BICOM (a hard-line zionist organization). The speakers was the usual Labour Friends of Israel member: Mike Gapes. The other speakers were: Lorna Fitzsimmons (BICOM) and Hussein Agha[12]

Ideas

Even friendly commentators struggle to understand Mulgan's books:

"Mulgan says he is interested in 'the ancient left idea of co-operation'. But within that ancient idea he charges about all over the intellectual china shop — now embracing the ideas of Amitai Etzioni, the avatar of US communitarianism; now reaching for the business management thinking of the Harvard scholar Mary Bet Kantor; now taking up the work on trust associated with Anthony Giddens, director of the London School of Economics, and Ulrich Beck the German sociologist."[13]

Its the old 'End of Ideology' argument. As Mulgan puts it: "the limits of freedom may have been reached, and the sharp edges of freedoms must be smoothed down to ensure they are responsibly exercised." The inequalities produced by the free market and maintained by elites are redefined as the surrogate problem of 'social exclusion'. The argument is that private capital has become 'global' and is thus out of reach of government. The Third Way says that something must be done about this; the government should have a social policy, but the systemic connections between 'global' market forces and poverty should not be particularly identified. But strong trading relationships are beneficial in other ways. In the words of Mulgan:

'The world can be more easily unified through the peaceful activity of buying and selling than through international treaties or fantasies of world government Trade breeds trust, and trust breeds trade.'[14]

It is hard to know if this is supposed to apply to all trade - including, for example, the Arms trade?

However, Mulgan's adherence to communitariainism was short lived:

"When I met Geoff Mulgan back in Australia on his honeymoon in 1998 he advised me that the stakeholder idea had frightened the big end of town and so it had been dropped. Company directors were concerned that they would be made accountable to people other than shareholders and institutional investors were frightened that it would destroy shareholder value." [15]

Speaking anonymously on the disappointment with the intellectuals role under Blair, one No. 10 policy aide said that:

"at one level, in specific areas, armies of academics are coming in and out as never before. Thatcher didn't do as much as we are doing, I am sure. For Blair's Beveridge lecture on welfare we had a large number of academics writing background papers — including some, like Ruth Lister, who have been highly critical. The Social Exclusion Unit's report drew on a lot of scholarly work. But in political philosophy it has been a failure. The Third Way debate was launched in the hope that intellectuals would get excited about it; but they have responded by saying it's pointless." [16]

John Lloyd adds:

"Mark Leonard...is seen (by foes of New Labour) as a stereotypical New Labour intellectual — brashly and ahistorically writing about 'rebranding Britain.' He says that "the problem for the big public intellectuals is that New Labour operates a pic 'n' mix approach. The disillusioned people like Will Hutton [editor-in-chief of the Observer] weren't comfortable with this because they wanted to be taken seriously. But people are dropped very quickly. And picked up very quickly"...[T]he New Policy Network, run by Mark Leonard...is a networking of Third Way-ers across Europe; and, more concretely, a sustained effort within the Cabinet Office to apply evidence, research and analysis to policy-making and governance."

Lloyd — a former Moscow Bureau chief for the Financial Times — joined up with Leonard at the FPC.[17]

People

Mark Leonard was the Director of the FPC. The FPC co-publish with Demos.[18] Baroness Meta Ramsay, who followed a career of over twenty years in HM Diplomatic Service in MI6, 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 former 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.[19]


Advisory council 2006

Staff and Associates

Staff
Stephen Twigg Director Adam Hug Policy Director Josephine Osikena Programme Manager, Democracy and Development
Anna Owen Events & Research Officer Feng Zhang Programme Manager, China
Associates
Anthony Bailey OBE Chief Policy Adviser Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Senior Research Associate Thiago de Aragão Senior Research Associate
Alex Bigham Research Associate Philip Fiske de Gouveia Senior Research Associate Phoebe Griffith Senior Research Associate
Simon Hix Senior Research Associate Alan Johnson Senior Research Associate Dick Leonard Senior Research Associate
Mark Leonard Senior Research Associate Dan Plesch Senior Research Associate Richard Youngs Senior Research Associate
Tom Blass Research Associate Seema Desai Research Associate Eman Ebed Research Associate
Richard Gowan Research Associate Pavel Miller Associate Elahe Mohtasham Senior Research Associate
Matthew Eagleton-Pierce Global Fellow Andrew Monaghan Global Fellow
Staff and Associates[21]

Contact, References and Resources

Contact

Website: fpc.org.uk

Resources

  • KNOW YOUR ENEMY Business agenda: The Foreign Policy Centre, Solomon Hughes explains how a New Labour-backed think tank is a haven for lobbyists, big business and mercenary firms, Red Pepper, April 2002
  • On the history of the IRD see Britain's Secret Propaganda War, Paul Lashmar & James Oliver, Sutton, 1998.
  • Dr Greg Austin, director of research at The Foreign Policy Centre, is the author of several books on China and Asian security and the FPC took part in the negotiations welcoming the Chinese government to Britain. [8] His appointments have included senior posts with the International Crisis Group.

References

  1. About Us | accessed 7 August 2005
  2. The Observer 30/6/02
  3. (New Statesman, Jan 31, 2005 by Rob Blackhurst).
  4. [1]
  5. available at http://fpc.org.uk/publications/
  6. Wilton Park
  7. ref needed
  8. Ref needed
  9. The Terrorism Industry, Edward Herman and Gerry O'Sullivan, Pantheon, New York 1989
  10. Ref needed
  11. [2]
  12. 20 June 2007 event: What are the challenges and opportunities for Gordon Brown with regard to Israel, Palestinians and the Near Middle East?
  13. (FT 26/4/97)
  14. [3]
  15. (Shann Turnbull [4])
  16. (Falling Out, John Lloyd , Prospect, October 1999)
  17. [5]
  18. [6].
  19. (Sunday Times 15/8/99)
  20. Source, accessed January 2007
  21. Staff and Associates, FPC, Accessed: 15 October 2008
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