Tories’ ‘toxic racism and Islamophobia’ risks fuelling more hate on the streets

Spread the love

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, 2024 CPAC, at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, February 22, 2024

CAMPAIGNERS have called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to withdraw the whip from Suella Braverman and Liz Truss, warning that their propagation of “toxic racism and Islamophobia” could fuel far-right hatred on the streets.

The demands came after the Tory whip was removed from Lee Anderson after he made Islamophobic comments to GB News about London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mr Sunak removed the whip, but only after Mr Anderson failed to apologise for his comments.

Mr Anderson’s comments were soon followed by an article in the Daily Telegraph by former home secretary Suella Braverman.

She wrote: “The Islamists, the extremists and the anti-semites are in charge.”

Across the Atlantic, former Prime Minister Liz Truss attempted to drum up new support by attending the far-right Conservative Political Action Conference.

While a guest on War Room, the podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, she said that “a radical Islamic party” could win the Rochdale by-election.

Continue ReadingTories’ ‘toxic racism and Islamophobia’ risks fuelling more hate on the streets

Liz Truss ‘willing to work’ with Nigel Farage to change the Conservative Party and the country

Spread the love

In recent days and weeks Truss has also claimed that the system is rigged against Conservative policies

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss, whose premiership ended in disaster, has announced that she is willing to work with Nigel Farage in order to change the Conservative Party and the country.

Truss, who was booted out of office after just 49 days after her disastrous policies resulted in financial turmoil, has recently being trying to relaunch her political career with the launch of her Popular Conservatism group, also known as PopCon.

The group describes itself as a “new movement aiming to restore democratic accountability to Britain and deliver popular conservative policies.” Its supporters include right wing Tory MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lee Anderson.

In recent days and weeks Truss has also claimed that the system is rigged against Conservative policies as she sought to blame a deep state conspiracy behind her downfall.

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Continue ReadingLiz Truss ‘willing to work’ with Nigel Farage to change the Conservative Party and the country

Liz Truss brutally mocked after claiming that the system is ‘rigged against Conservative policies’

Spread the love

“Imagine, for example, trying to become prime minister while espousing my ideas!”

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss wants us to believe that the ‘system is rigged against Conservative policies’ despite the fact that the Tories have been in power for the last 14 years!

Truss, whose premiership ended in disaster, and who was booted out of office after just 49 days, making her Britain’s shortest ever serving Prime Minister, is currently trying to relaunch her political career with the setting up of her Popular Conservatism group, also known as PopCon.

On Monday, in a bid to rally support for her new group, Truss posted on X: “When the system is rigged against conservative policies, we need to change the system itself.”

She was brutally mocked for her post, with one social media user writing: “Liz is right. We had an 80 seat majority, stuffed the House of Lords with Tories, installed our mates at the BBC, Ofcom,  Ofgem etc and of course have most of the papers in our pockets, but somehow the system is stacked against us.”

David Aaronovitch wrote in response: “Imagine, for example, trying to become prime minister while espousing my ideas! The system would never allow it!  It’s rigged, I tell you, rigged!”

Continue ReadingLiz Truss brutally mocked after claiming that the system is ‘rigged against Conservative policies’

New Liz Truss Faction ‘Pops’ With Climate Science Denial and Fossil Fuel Ties

Spread the love

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lee Anderson and Liz Truss at the launch of ‘Popular Conservatism’. Credit: PA Images / Alamy

The launch of Popular Conservatism saw attacks on “net zero zealots” and the Climate Change Committee.

Liz Truss’s new ‘Popular Conservatism’ faction of the Conservative Party launched today with attacks on net zero targets and environmental bodies, using the playbook established by libertarian lobby groups.

The self-styled PopCons included politicians critical of climate policies and science, including Lord Frost, who is a director of the climate science denial Global Warming Policy Foundation, as well as Conservative MP Lee Anderson and Reform party president Nigel Farage

PopCon director Mark Littlewood is the outgoing managing director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), an influential free market think tank that has talked up its access to government. 

The IEA received funding from oil company BP every year from 1967 to 2018, according to an Unearthed investigation confirmed by the IEA. Both IEA and BP have declined to say if this funding continues, when asked by DeSmog. 

A branded leaflet handed out at the event, under the heading “what we stand for”, stated: “End net zero zealotry and promote energy pragmatism to provide both security of supply and low prices”. 

The leaflet also named the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the government’s independent advisory body on hitting its climate targets, as one of the institutions which “stand in the way of meaningful reform”.  

Littlewood’s speech criticised the UK’s net zero target, complaining about “the Climate Change Committee, pronouncing on our progress to the eye-wateringly [sic] expensive and almost certainly unachievable aim of being carbon net zero”. 

Lee Anderson, former deputy chair of the Conservative Party, repeatedly attacked net zero in his speech, which he claimed “never comes up on the doorstep” aside from when it is brought up by “the odd weirdo”.

Anderson said: “if we became net zero tomorrow, this country… it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the earth’s atmosphere”, pointing to the higher emissions produced by other countries. 

Anderson argued that net zero would cost voters money, calling for an “opt-in, opt-out” approach to what he called “green levies” on energy bills, adding: “Not one politician can put their hand on their hearts and tell you how much it’s [net zero] going to cost.”

The CCC has estimated the cost of net zero at less than one percent of GDP, while the Office for Budget Responsibility has said that “the costs of failing to get climate change under control would be much larger than those of bringing emissions down to net zero”.

Liz Truss used her speech to say: “If we look at the net zero zealots that Lee has just been talking about, the need for cheaper energy is being drowned out by some very active campaigners.” She claimed voters “don’t like the net zero policies which are making energy more expensive”. 

The International Monetary Fund found in September 2022 that the energy crisis was hitting UK households harder than any country in western Europe, due to the UK’s reliance on gas for heating homes.

Politicians fronting the PopCon group have a history of working with anti-green think tanks and supporting more fossil fuel extraction. 

Truss (who went to the University of Oxford with Littlewood) has extensive ties to the IEA, which is part of the Tufton Street network – a cluster of libertarian pressure groups and think tanks that oppose state-led climate action.

In 2022, Truss’s campaign for Tory leader was run by Ruth Porter, a former communications director at the IEA. Once in 10 Downing Street, Truss hired Porter as her senior special advisor, and has since appointed her to the House of Lords. A number of former Tufton Street figures were appointed to government advisory roles during Truss’s short-lived tenure in Downing Street.

The IEA publicly supported Truss’s ‘mini-budget’, which caused economic chaos by promising large tax cuts without explaining how they would be funded. While in office, Truss lifted the UK’s ban on fracking for shale gas, a policy advocated by the IEA. (The policy was ditched by her successor Rishi Sunak.) 

The IEA has consistently opposed UK government climate policies, preferring “market solutions”. In October 2022, IEA executive Andy Mayer said the government should “get rid of” its net zero target, which he called a “very hard left, socialist, central-planning model”.

During her 2022 leadership campaign, Truss received £5,000 from Lord Vinson, one of the few known funders of the Tufton Street-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s main climate science denial group. 

Rees-Mogg also has a long record of opposing climate policies. Earlier this month he said: “the current headlong rush to net zero risks impoverishing the nation to no global benefit on emissions”.

The UK government’s legally-binding target to cut carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 is part of international efforts to keep global warming below 1.5C. 

As Business and Energy Secretary in 2022, Rees-Mogg supported overturning the UK’s ban on fracking, and said “we have to stop demonising oil and gas” in a meeting with the UAE’s state investment company. 

He also receives around £29,000 per month to host a show on right-wing broadcaster GB News. A DeSmog investigation last year found one in three GB News hosts spread climate science denial on air in 2022, while more than half attacked net zero policies. The channel‘s co-owner, Paul Marshall, has £1.8 billion invested in fossil fuels via his investment fund Marshall Wace.

Science Denial

Several figures with ties to climate science denial turned out for the PopCon launch. They included Lord Frost, a trustee of the GWPF who last year said global warming could be “beneficial”, along with Dame Andrea Jenkyns, who sits on the board of the GWPF’s campaign arm, Net Zero Watch

The IEA and GWPF have both received funding from Neil Record, a Conservative donor who was IEA chairman until July 2023 and remains chair of Net Zero Watch. Record has donated thousands to Tory MP Steve Baker, an IEA ally and former GWPF trustee who has claimed much climate science is “contestable” and “propagandised”. 

The PopCon launch was also attended by GB News host Nigel Farage, honorary president of right-wing party Reform UK, which campaigns to “scrap net zero”. Last year the party received £135,000 from donors who spread climate denial or had fossil fuel interests. Reform leader Richard Tice has claimed that “CO2 isn’t poison; it’s plant food”.

Farage posed for a photo at the PopCon event with Lois Perry, director of climate denial group CAR26, who is running for leader of UKIP and last month said she does not believe in human-caused climate change. 

Original article by Adam Barnett republished from DeSmog.

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.

Liz Truss attacks ‘left-wing extremists’ at Tory PopCon launch 

Addressing the audience Truss made a series of bizarre attacks on the Left, taking aim at “wokeism” and said the Tories had failed to “take on the left-wing extremists”. 

“Wokeism seems to be on the curriculum,” said Truss. “There is confusion about basic biological facts, like what is a woman. 

“Look at the net zero zealots, if you listen to the Today programme, I don’t recommend it, you’ll hear demands for more public spending.”

Truss went on to warn that the left were “on the march and actively organising”. 

“These people have repurposed themselves, they don’t believe they are socialist or communists anymore. They say they’re environmentalists, they say they’re in favour of helping people across all communities, they are in favour of supporting LGBT people or groups of ethnic minorities. 

“So they no longer admit that they are collectivists but that is what their ideology is about.” 

She went on to claim that anti-capitalists were being “pandered to” by the Government and that Conservative values were being eroded and said it was “only through Conservative values that we can give the British people what they want”, however fell short on saying what this was exactly. 

Liz Truss attacks ‘left-wing extremists’ at Tory PopCon launch 

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.

Truss summons ‘Secret Tories’ to fight Davos and Left

Former prime minister Liz Truss during the launch of the Popular Conservatism movement at the Emmanuel Centre in central London, in a bid to rally right-wing Tory MPs ahead of a general election this year, February 6, 2024

Running through a list of enemies almost longer than her catastrophic time in Downing Street, Ms Truss nevertheless claimed that Britain was “full of secret Conservatives — people who agree with us but don’t want to admit it,” while the Tory party had been appeasing “left-wing extremists.”

Painting a picture of a world on the edge of socialism, the former prime minister, best known for crashing the economy in a matter of days, asserted that “the left have been on the march.”

“They have been on the march in our institutions, they have been on the march in our corporate world, they are on the march globally,” she claimed.

Taking on this menace and “changing the system itself” will require “resilience and bravery,” Ms Truss added.

Unfortunately, rather than resilience and bravery, she had to hand only Lee Anderson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, former frontbenchers taking a break from their present gigs on GB News.

Truss summons ‘Secret Tories’ to fight Davos and Left

Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Continue ReadingNew Liz Truss Faction ‘Pops’ With Climate Science Denial and Fossil Fuel Ties

Tory MPs launch new ‘Popular Conservatism’ group headed by Liz Truss

Spread the love
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.
Lettuce complains about being compared to Liz Truss.

“‘Popular conservatism’ is an oxymoron”: Yet ANOTHER Tory faction forms

A group of Tory MPs have announced the launch of yet another new Party faction, this one called ‘Popular Conservatism’, or ‘PopCon’, with the principle aim to “restore democratic accountability to Britain and deliver popular conservative policies”.

Headed by the shortest-serving prime minister in history, Liz Truss, commentators have been quick to call out the irony in the groups name and head, with Truss previously polled as the least-popular UK prime minister in the history of polling.

Liz Truss announced the launch yesterday on X, with the new movement adding to a number of Tory break out factions that have developed in previous years, as MPs bid to push the party further to the right and influence Rishi Sunak’s manifesto ahead of a general election.

Continue ReadingTory MPs launch new ‘Popular Conservatism’ group headed by Liz Truss

Why it is essential that the UK’s shady think tanks reveal their funders

Spread the love

Original article by Tom Brake republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

We know think tanks can shape government policy. But we often have no idea who is paying them to do so

openDemocracy’s Who Funds You? report finds think tanks raking in millions ahead of general election  | Getty

You don’t have to follow UK politics too closely to have spotted the names of a handful of think tanks cropping up again and again in the news.

There is little doubt these organisations exert significant influence. Just last year, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) was reported to have shaped then-prime minister Liz Truss’s disastrous budget.

And sometimes it seems like only hours have passed between the publication of a Policy Exchange research paper and the adoption and implementation of its content as government policy. This is perhaps unsurprising given even Policy Exchange says its “status as the UK’s most influential think tank is widely recognised”.

The influence of high-profile think tanks is also apparent in the revolving door between them and the government. The former CEO of Taxpayers’ Alliance (TA), for example, took up a job in Priti Patel’s office when she was home secretary.

So we know think tanks can shape public policy. What is often far less obvious, though, is who is paying them to do so.

openDemocracy’s annual Who Funds You? report, published today, assesses how transparent think tanks’ financial disclosures were in the past year, grading them on a scale from A to E based on how much they publish about their funders.

I should mention, at this point, that I am the CEO of Unlock Democracy, a think tank awarded an A rating (the most transparent possible) in the report.

The report has revealed that UK think tanks have raised more than £101m to influence public policy in the run-up to the next general election – £25m of which came from ‘dark money’-funded think tanks, which are opaque about funders.

Policy Exchange and the IEA were both awarded D ratings, the second lowest.

There is nothing in either think tank’s mission that indicates any requirement for high levels of secrecy surrounding their funders. So why are they so shy about revealing their backers?

Is it because the public and ministers might view any advocacy of slower action on climate change or accusations of ‘nanny-statism’ over limits on sugar, salt and fat in processed foods differently if their accounts revealed they were partly funded by oil or gas companies, large food manufacturers or private individuals with an interest in promoting deregulation or privatisation? Of course, they might not be. But that’s the point – we don’t know.

Or is it because much of the media might stop describing them, rather generously, as ‘independent’ if the truth were known about from where and whom they received financial support?

Or is it because pressure would build for Parliament to force these think tanks to register as consultant lobbyists?

Given the IEA, Policy Exchange, the Taxpayers’ Alliance and other think tanks have declined to take voluntary action to reveal their sponsors, it is time for the government to step in and require them to declare funders contributing over £5,000 a year.

The media could help by refraining from describing think tanks whose funding remains as murky as the waters in our polluted rivers as ‘independent’.

We would all then be better equipped to establish whether the exhortations of the most influential think tanks will help deliver ‘a stronger society’ or something far less attractive.

The full report is available at

Original article by Tom Brake republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.  

Continue ReadingWhy it is essential that the UK’s shady think tanks reveal their funders

Truss-supporting economists call for minimum wage to be frozen, then cut

Spread the love

‘Is it too much of a stretch to recognise that poverty is the CAUSE of poor growth.’

Image of cash and pre-payment meter key
Image of cash and pre-payment meter key

The Growth Commission was formed by Liz Truss, following her resignation as prime minister after her chaotic 49 days in government. Truss was in the audience at the Commission’s event, alongside Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Brexit negotiator, Lord David Frost.

Minimum wage rates increased in April. The level is currently set at £10.42 an hour for those aged 23 and over. 21-22-year-olds must be paid a minimum of £10.18 an hour, 18 to 20-year-olds receive £7.49 and under 18s and apprentices have to be paid no lower than an hourly rate of £5.28.

Growth Commission co-chairman, Shanker Singham, said the group was “concerned about how high” Britain’s minimum wage is compared with other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“There is nothing wrong with the minimum wage. What matters in terms of competition is where it is set,” said Singham.

“What we are intending to do in the UK is move it to 66 percent of median wage, which is far higher than any other OECD country by next year and will be a significant drag on the economy.

“So we are suggesting freezing it and targeting it down to 61 percent.

“Even that small reduction or that small change in minimum wage has a very big impact on GDP per capita, according to our calculations,” he added.

Continue ReadingTruss-supporting economists call for minimum wage to be frozen, then cut

Top Tory Think Tank’s North Sea Oil and Gas ‘Vested Interests’

Spread the love

Original article republished from DeSmog.

‘Shocking’ findings show how board members at the Tufton Street think tank are tied to fossil fuel firms.

North Sea oil rigs in Cromarty Firth, Scotland. Credit: joiseyshowaa (CC BY-SA 2.0)
North Sea oil rigs in Cromarty Firth, Scotland. Credit: joiseyshowaa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The influential Conservative-linked Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has been pushing for further North Sea oil and gas drilling while several of its board members hold financial interests in the industry, a DeSmog investigation has found.

The news follows the government’s approval of the major Rosebank oilfield and the issuing of new North Sea licences, which the government intends to turn into a mandatory annual process, as announced in this week’s King’s Speech.

Five of the think tank’s board have financial interests in North Sea oil and gas, including its chair Lord Spencer, a major Conservative Party donor whose exploration company is bidding for licences in the current round.

The think tank, which is based at 57 Tufton Street in Westminster, meets regularly with ministers. It has called for new oil and gas projects to be accelerated, labelled the windfall tax on energy companies a “terrible idea”, and argued for a more generous fiscal environment for the UK’s fossil fuel producers.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is quoted on the organisation’s website as saying that “Lots of exciting ideas are being generated at the CPS… many of which are finding their way into government.”

Tessa Khan, executive director of climate group Uplift, said the findings were an example of how some think tanks have “long been little more than lobbying vehicles for private interests, including oil and gas”. The CPS denies that it is a lobbying group.

Khan added that organisations like the CPS “amplify the voices” of the oil and gas industry.

“This maybe goes some way to explaining why this government is set on subsidising new oil and gas fields when they represent such a bad deal for the public, in that they won’t lower bills, won’t increase energy security but will make the climate crisis worse,” she said.

Nature broadcaster Chris Packham, who is threatening to take the government to court over its recent watering down of climate measures, said: “Just weeks after we learn that not a single new offshore wind project will be going ahead this year due to the government’s intransigence – and as Rishi Sunak tears up vital climate policies – these findings are shocking.

“They provide further evidence that Number 10’s fossil fuel agenda is far from accidental. There are powerful vested interests at work and the Centre for Policy Studies seems to be at the heart of it. The government’s plan to hand out more than a hundred new North Sea drilling licences in the coming months is looking grubbier than ever.”

DeSmog previously revealed that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million from fossil fuel interests in 2022, including from the North Sea industry. This week, DeSmog also revealed that the government watered down its windfall tax on the excess profits of energy firms after a lobbying blitz by the oil and gas industry.

When asked about its board members’ business interests, a CPS spokesperson said that the think tank is “grateful for all our supporters, especially the support of our board members, but the investments of other boards on which they sit have no bearing on their relationship with the CPS”.

They claimed that DeSmog was “cherry-picking in order to manufacture an incorrect picture of the CPS’s position” and that it was “misleading and below journalistic standards.”

They added that “the Centre for Policy Studies has been one of the most prominent champions of free-market environmentalism, with a dedicated workstream on net zero” and that “Where our work is sponsored, this is made clear in the report acknowledgments, in press releases, and in event invitations.”

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the regulator in charge of issuing drilling licences, said that oil and gas were “forecast to play an important role in the energy mix for decades to come”. A spokesperson said the NSTA was “pleased” with the number of applications received in the current oil and gas licensing round and that the process of assessing them was “progressing well”.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero declined to add any further comment.

At the end of September, the International Energy Agency, of which the UK is a member, released a report reiterating the need for a phaseout of fossil fuels if climate goals are to be met. 

Lord Deben, the recently retired chair of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, which advises the government, argued in August that the government should stop approving North Sea licences.

Deltic Energy

Lord Spencer, who has chaired the CPS since the start of 2020, is the largest shareholder of Deltic Energy, which holds stakes in 18 North Sea areas, known as blocks, according to NSTA data.

A former Conservative Party treasurer, Spencer was given a life peerage by Boris Johnson. Official data shows that he has donated more than £7.5 million to the Conservative Party, individual Tory politicians and officially affiliated groups since 2015. He also sits on the board of the party’s multi-million-pound endowment fund. DeSmog revealed earlier this year that many of its directors have significant fossil fuel interests.

Through his holding company, IPGL, Spencer owns a £17.5 million stake in Deltic, according to Refinitiv data – nearly a fifth of the firm. He has held a significant shareholding since at least 2018, and bought more shares in 2019 from its founder Algy Cluff, a pioneer of the original North Sea oil boom in the 1970s who himself later joined the CPS board.

Responding to an enquiry from DeSmog, Cluff said that although the value of the company “may have increased in the view of management”, the stock market is “unimpressed and very much aware of the risks associated with any oil investments nowadays”. He described the “small number” of options he holds in the company as “presently worthless”.

Cluff has nevertheless spoken of the North Sea’s “second coming”, claiming that there is “a lot more oil to be found” and a “huge amount of gas”.

Deltic has made significant discoveries in recent years, touting its “enviable reputation as proven hydrocarbon finders” on its website, and has seen its market value rise in tandem.

It won blocks in North Sea licensing rounds in both 2018 and 2020, with the former is said to represent an area the “size of Bedfordshire”.

In its latest annual report, for the 2022 calendar year, Deltic criticises the government’s windfall tax but praises its accompanying investment allowance, which provides North Sea companies with tax breaks to encourage investment.

A presentation it gave investors in March describes its strategy as “Identify. Explore. Monetise. Repeat.” It says the investment allowance “significantly enhances economics from investment in Deltic exploration”, touts controversial gas-derived “blue hydrogen” as environmentally friendly, and highlights “established export infrastructure” and “regular licensing rounds” as attractive features of the North Sea.

Deltic is chaired by Mark Lappin, a former technical director of fracking company Cuadrilla who has publicly called for more oil and gas production, criticising opposition to new drilling.

Lord Spencer’s Conservative donations, made either personally or through IPGL and ICAP, include £25,000 gifts to the 2022 leadership campaigns of Sunak, Liz Truss, and Penny Mordaunt.

Spencer made £20,000 donations to Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid in 2019, and has made smaller donations to numerous other leading figures within the party in recent years, including Kwasi Kwarteng, Dominic Raab, Theresa May, Brandon Lewis, and Andrew Griffith.

Spencer has also funded “Blue Collar Conservatism”, a large caucus of Conservative MPs working to “champion working people”, with donations totalling £25,000 in 2019 and 2020. The group has campaigned against fuel duty rises.

Spencer’s Other Fossil Fuel Interests

Lord Spencer has also publicly talked up the fossil fuel industry, telling LBC’s Nick Ferrari last September that the UK “sadly has opposed further investment in North Sea oil and gas”. During the interview, he praised then Prime Minister Liz Truss for speaking out against windfall taxes on the sector, calling them “not Tory policy” and “not pro-business”.

He also expressed support for fracking, praised Truss’s “strategy” and “ideology”, and called for investment in renewable energy, but omitted to mention his interests in oil and gas.

In addition to the North Sea, Spencer has various other fossil fuel interests. According to Refinitiv, he holds the second largest stake in Pantheon Resources, a UK company exploring for oil in Alaska that recently hailed a potentially enormous discovery.

His brokerage firm ICAP also includes an oil and gas trading arm. Until December last year, Spencer held shares in Petrofac, an oilfield services firm heavily involved in the North Sea, including the controversial Cambo project.

Spencer’s shareholdings are disclosed to the House of Lords – indicating either a stake worth more than £70,000 or significant control over the company. They include Cluff Energy Africa, described as an “early stage oil prospecting company, seeking licences in Africa (Angola and Sierra Leone)”.

Its founder, Algy Cluff, told DeSmog that they had “wound the company up” because they “found the premium being asked by governments for the right to explore not to be consonant with the rewards”.

Cluff was a director of the CPS between 1995 and 2006, coinciding with the executive directorship of the late Tessa Keswick. Cluff confirmed to DeSmog that Keswick helped him find investors for his North Sea consortium in the 1970s, as has been reported.

Tessa’s husband Henry Keswick, chairman emeritus of the conglomerate Jardine Matheson and a major Tory donor, used to own the influential conservative Spectator magazine and sold it to Cluff in the early 1980s. Cluff was its chairman until 2004, during which Charles Moore, Dominic Lawson, and Boris Johnson were editors.

The magazine was edited in the 1960s by the late Nigel Lawson, who would become Thatcher’s chancellor and in later life promote climate science denial through the Global Warming Policy Foundation, based at 55 Tufton Street.

Cluff’s remaining business interests include Cluff Mineral Resources, an Africa-focused gold and coal exploration company, which was temporarily based at 55 Tufton Street before moving next door to share an address with the CPS.

The Board

Another CPS board member, Lord Strathclyde, is a senior strategic adviser to Hibiscus Petroleum, a Malaysian oil and gas company that has amassed stakes in 11 North Sea blocks in recent years

Ithaca, the firm behind the high-profile Rosebank and Cambo projects, is partnering with Hibiscus on one of the blocks.

Hibiscus is also one of the firms to have been awarded stakes in the latest round of oil and gas licences.

Strathclyde, who was leader of the House of Lords under David Cameron, is an adviser to oil trading giant Trafigura.

Sir Douglas Flint, chair of Abrdn – formerly, Standard Life Aberdeen – also sits on the CPS board. Abrdn has been targeted by protesters for its investments in oil and gas, which climate researchers Urgewald estimate at £2.9 billion. According to the latest figures, they include oil majors like BP, Shell and Exxon, as well as North Sea-focused firms Serica Energy, Harbour Energy, and EnQuest.

The major asset manager was reportedly one of a group of financial institutions recently summoned by the Treasury to increase investment in the North Sea.

Lord Spencer’s entry in the register of interests indicates he also holds a stake worth more than £70,000 in Abrdn.

Other CPS board members include Jon Moulton, chair of FinnCap, a financial advisory firm whose activities include raising finance for North Sea oil and gas companies, and Roger Orf, a partner at Apollo Global Management, a US private equity firm with £349 million of investments in BP and Shell, both major North Sea players.

Two further CPS board members have wider interests in oil and gas: Ian Molson, deputy chair of Central European Petroleum, which is exploring for oil in Germany and Poland; and major Tory donor Lord Bamford, chair of construction giant JCB, a sector still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

In April 2023, DeSmog revealed that CPS board members had donated more than £600,000 to the Conservatives since Rishi Sunak became prime minister. 

The CPS also leans on its board for funding. According to the group’s latest accounts – for the period up to September 2022 – its directors donated £1 million to the company during the year. Turnover was £650,000 during the year and ‘other operating income’ hit £1.5 million, meaning that the CPS board contributed nearly half (47%) of its income during the period.

North Sea Push

The Centre for Policy Studies has strongly supported new North Sea oil and gas drilling in recent years.

In a March 2022 economic bulletin, it recommended that the government “look at accelerating regulatory approval for upcoming oil and gas projects such as Rosebank [Phase 1], Clair South, Glengorm, Cambo and Bentley [Phase 2]”. 

The bulletin added that introducing a windfall tax on profits would be a “terrible idea” and “completely self-defeating”. It welcomed “reports” suggesting the government was planning to launch another licensing round for fossil fuel projects.

A month later, the CPS welcomed the government’s “energy security strategy”, calling the return of annual North Sea licensing rounds “overdue”. A 33rd licensing round was launched in October.

In September 2022, an economic bulletin from the think tank called for “improved tax incentives for firms operating in the North Sea”.

In February this year, one of the CPS’s senior researchers criticised the “punishment beatings inflicted on the North Sea oil and gas industry from George Osborne onwards” – despite the sector having enjoyed one of the most generous tax regimes in the world until the recent windfall tax.

Other articles published on CapX, a commentary website run by the CPS, have labelled the Labour Party’s policy of no new North Sea licences “more than a little nuts” and the SNP’s similar position a “dangerous gambit”.

Andy Mayer, chief operations officer at the BP-funded Institute of Economic Affairs, writes regularly for CapX. He has used the platform to describe opposition to the Rosebank project as “shrill hysteria”, Shell’s bumper profits this year as “brilliant stuff”, and North Sea companies being fined for gas flaring as a “dotty investment message to send”. Following the announcement of the latest North Sea licences, Mayer wrote a story for CapX headlined “Hurrah for new North Sea oil licences!”

CPS Influence

The CPS has significant political access, having conducted private, one-to-one meetings with ministers on 27 occasions since 2014 and attended many other larger ministerial meetings, according to data compiled by Transparency International from government disclosures.

A number of the think tank’s former employees are now working as government advisers and its homepage carries supportive quotes from former prime ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson. 

Rishi Sunak spoke at a CPS event at the Conservative Party conference in 2019 and wrote a report for the organisation in 2016 backing the roll-out of freeports, which have since been introduced.

The think tank, which was co-founded by Margaret Thatcher, hosted a “dedicated space” at this year’s party conference, with speakers including Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, and Grant Shapps.

The chair of Times Newspapers, which publishes The Times and Sunday Times, and the editor of The Spectator, both sit on the CPS board. All of the titles editorially support new North Sea oil and gas.

Richard Sharp, who was forced to resign as chairman of the BBC earlier this year over his connection to a secret £800,000 loan to Boris Johnson, sat on the CPS board for 19 years before joining the BBC in 2021.

The CPS, which does not disclose its funding, has offices on Tufton Street in Westminster, alongside several other “free market” pressure groups and think tanks, including the climate science denying Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Other board members include Rachel Wolf, a co-author alongside CPS Director Robert Colvile of the 2019 Conservative manifesto, which said the “North Sea oil and gas industry has a long future ahead” and supported a deal with the sector that allows for new drilling projects.

Original article republished from DeSmog.

Scientists protest at UK Parliament 5 September 2023.
Scientists protest at UK Parliament 5 September 2023.
Continue ReadingTop Tory Think Tank’s North Sea Oil and Gas ‘Vested Interests’

Mark Carney demolishes Brexit and Liz Truss’ economic policies

Spread the love
Image of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. “Some people said we were in too much of a rush – and it is certainly true that I didn’t just try to fatten the pig on market day, I tried to rear the pig and slaughter it as well. I confess to that.”

The former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has taken apart the arguments of Brexiteers as well as the economic policies of Liz Truss during a speech at the Global Progress Action Summit in Montreal, where he praised “progressive” policies while attacking “far-right populists”.

Carney, who was governor between 2013 to 2020, accused those who backed quitting the European Union of wanting to “tear down the future” and also launched a scathing attack on the disastrous economic policies of Liz Truss.

Turning his attention to Truss, Carney said that when Brexiteers tried to create Singapore on the Thames, the Truss government instead delivered Argentina on the Channel – and that was a year ago.

“Those with little experience in the private sector – lifelong politicians masquerading as free marketeers – grossly under-value the importance of mission, of institutions, and of discipline to a strong economy.

“And the bad news is that while these tactics never work economically, they can work politically. Brexit happened, Donald Trump was elected. So we can’t dismiss the impact of anger, but we must resist its power.”

Continue ReadingMark Carney demolishes Brexit and Liz Truss’ economic policies

Tories have taken £291,000 in gifts from airports as Sunak eyes runway U-turn

Spread the love

Original article by Adam Bychawski republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Donations raise eyebrows with Rishi Sunak expected to reject Climate Change Committee advice on banning expansions

Image of a dirty jet passenger aircraft
A dirty jet passenger aircraft

Airport operators have lavished Britain’s last three prime ministers with VIP services worth more than £200,000 since the 2019 election, analysis by openDemocracy has found.

Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and Theresa May are among the Conservative MPs who have accepted more than £275,000 in donations-in-kind from airport operators, while Conservative Party HQ has also taken more than £13,500 in donations from airport operators.

It comes as the government signals its backing for airport expansions, in contrast with advice from its own climate advisers that adding runways to Heathrow and Gatwick would be incompatible with the UK’s net zero goals. The Department of Transport told openDemocracy it was “supportive of airport expansion where it can be delivered in a sustainable way”.

Peter Barclay, the chair of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said gifts to the Conservative Party were “all part of the industry’s efforts to oil the government machine in their favour”.

“It makes you very suspicious of politicians,” he said.

Sarah Clayton, coordinator of climate campaign group AirportWatch said: “Rishi Sunak has no interest in the environment, his only interest is keeping the Conservative Party going.

“The airports will use every little trick in the book in order to make sure that the law isn’t changed so they can get their expansion plans through.”

Truss, Johnson and May have accepted tens of thousands of pounds in donations in kind from Heathrow Airport Ltd and Gatwick Airport Ltd in the last four years. Both airports are hoping to open additional runways.

Theresa May alone accepted donations in kind worth more than £183,000 for the use of the VIP Windsor suite at Heathrow Airport a staggering 44 times, according to declarations made on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Heathrow advertises the private suite as a “unique and luxurious service” that includes a chauffeur and dinner prepared by a Michelin starred chef “served by your own personal butler”.

Boris Johnson also used the suite at least 34 times, accepting stays worth £58,000 from the airport, four of them while still in office. In addition, he made use of a VIP suite at Gatwick Airport for him and his family on three occasions after leaving office, a donation in kind worth more than £4,000.

His short-lived successor Liz Truss also made use of VIP suites at Heathrow and Gatwick, accepting 14 stays worth more than £24,000 after resigning as prime minister.

Theresa May accepted donations in kind worth more than £183,000 for the use of the VIP Windsor suite at Heathrow Airport a staggering 44 times

Tory Party HQ also accepted a £12,500 cash donation from London City Airport Ltd just days after it won the 2019 election, according to the Electoral Commission’s records, while Heathrow Airport Ltd made a “non-cash” donation worth the equivalent of £1,680.00 to the party in October 2022. It did not respond to questions about what the donation actually was.

A further six Conservative MPs have accepted gifts worth almost £7,000 in total from London City Airport Ltd since 2019. Orpington MP Gareth Bacon declared in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests that he received tickets to sporting fixtures worth £1,849 from the airport last year, which is the closest to his constituency.

Tory MPs Nigel Evans, Robert Neill, Paul Scully, Kevin Hollinrake and Gagan Mohindra also declared that they had accepted tickets to sporting events from the airport.

London City had an application to increase the size of its terminal refused by Newham Council in July, but has appealed the decision.

Operators of British airports including Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as the Airport Operators Association (AOA), also sponsor the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group of MPs by donating £10,000 a year to pay for its secretariat.

Karen Dee, the chief executive of AOA, recently wrote that she had been “working with MPs on the Future of Aviation All Party Parliamentary Group to lobby the prime minister and chancellor to allow airports to establish arrivals duty-free stores and to restore VAT-free shopping for international tourists”.

Original article by Adam Bychawski republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

Continue ReadingTories have taken £291,000 in gifts from airports as Sunak eyes runway U-turn