Unmasked: George Monbiot adds further information about the global corporate-political nexus

In the Guardian (18th Feb), Monbiot has highlighted two secretive organisations working for US billionaires:

“While inflicting untold suffering on the world’s people, their funders have used these opaque structures to ensure that their identities are never exposed”. 

Their British operation: American Friends of the IEA

Monbiot (right) writes:

George Monbiot 3“The Institute of Economic Affairs is a British group which, like all the others, calls itself a free market thinktank. Scarcely a day goes by on which its staff are not interviewed in the broadcast media, promoting the dreary old billionaires’ agenda: less tax for the rich, less help for the poor, less spending by the state, less regulation for business. In the first 13 days of February, its people were on the BBC ten times.

“Never have I heard its claim to be an independent thinktank challenged by the BBC. When, in 2007, I called the institute a business lobby group, its then director-general responded, in a letter to the Guardian, “we are independent of all business interests”. Oh yes?

“The database, published by the Canadian site www.desmogblog.com, shows that American Friends of the IEA has received (up to 2010) $215,000 from the two secretive funds. When I spoke to the IEA’s fundraising manager, she confirmed that the sole purpose of American Friends is to raise money for the organisation in London. She agreed that the IEA has never disclosed the Donors’ Trust money it has received. She denied that the institute is a sockpuppet organisation: purporting to be independent while working for some very powerful US interests.

“Would the BBC allow someone from Bell Pottinger to discuss an issue of concern to its sponsors without revealing the sponsors’ identity? No. So what’s the difference? What distinguishes an acknowledged public relations company taking money from a corporation or a billionaire from a so-called thinktank, funded by the same source to promote the same agenda?”

The verdict:
One of the billionaires: David Koch, co-founder of the Tea Party

One of the billionaires: David Koch, co-founder of the Tea Party

“This is the new political frontier. Corporations and their owners have learnt not to show their hands. They tend to avoid the media, aware that they will damage their brands by being seen to promote the brutal agenda that furthers their interests. So they have learnt from the tobacco companies: stay hidden and pay other people to do it for you”.

The answer, as ever, is transparency:

As the so-called thinktanks come to play an ever more important role in politics, we need to know who they are working for. Any group – whether the Institute of Economic Affairs or Friends of the Earth – which attempts to influence public life should declare all donations greater than £1000. We’ve had a glimpse of who’s paying. Now we need to see the rest of the story.

Read the Guardian article here, and/or the fully referenced article on Monbiot’s website.
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Posted on February 19, 2013, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Lobbying, Vested interests and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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