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Murdoch press lists corporate spending on political and lobbying activities

Times journalists Alex Ralph, and Harry Wilson present and comment on material collected by the Times Data Team: Tom Wills, Ryan Watts, Kira Schacht. Links have been added by PCU’s editor to enable readers to learn more if they wish to do so.

“FTSE 100 groups, including banks, defence contractors, tobacco manufacturers and telecoms companies, have spent more than £24 million on lobbying in Brussels and about £335,000 funding all-party parliamentary groups in Westminster”.

They add: “There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing or rule-breaking by companies”.

FTSE 100 political spending (over the last two years)

The Times first focusses on All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)

APPGs are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords who join together to pursue a particular topic or interest. Many involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities – or as the journalists put it, “help to push industry agendas in parliament”. Read more here.

Unsurprisingly, BAE Systems, which spent £37,000 on a group “to promote better understanding of the Her Majesty’s armed forces in parliament”, is among the biggest backers of the parliamentary groups.

The writers comment that parliamentary groups have proved contentious because of the large amounts spent on reports that often support the views of industry and which grant access to parliament for companies and lobbyists.

BT’s £53,000 included backing the parliamentary internet, communications and technology forum, known as Pictfor, whose members include Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader and Lord Birt, former Blair adviser and director-general of the BBC. A list of funders may be seen here.

Note: ’Donations to APPGs’ shows spending between Jan 2015 and Mar 2017 as declared on the Register of APPGs. ’Spend on EU lobbying’ shows companies’ minimum estimates for the most recent financial year declared on the EU Transparency Register at the time of research. Here is a snapshot taken from one of 10 pages listing donations/other spending and the companies’ rationales for these sums being given.

The Times’ second focus is on the denial of information to shareholders

Less than £10,000 of identified political and lobbying spending in the EU was disclosed to shareholders in the companies’ recent annual reports. ompanies are not required to disclose details to shareholders and little information on corporate political and lobbying activities is revealed in annual reports, which are published before shareholder meetings. The tens of millions of euros spent each year in the EU go largely undeclared to shareholders.

Corporate Europe, which campaigns for greater transparency in EU decision making, has spent years tracking how the business world moulds policy.

Vicky Cann, the group’s UK representative, said that the banking and energy industries were the most active lobbyists. “The financial services industry is a huge spender and even then we think the real scope of their spending is probably bigger than we can currently see,” she said. Her colleague gave the example of recent emissions legislation that was the subject of intense lobbying by BP and Shell.

As Peter van Veen, director of business integrity at Transparency International, said, “Corporate transparency over political activities is important to ensure the public can have the confidence that their politicians and industry leaders are conducting business ethically . . . If companies are not voluntarily willing to disclose their political activities and funding of these, then stronger legislation should be considered and a possible starting point may be to broaden the definition of political activities and expenditure in the Companies Act 2006.”

 

 

 

 

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Political loyalties: EU or USA? The red carpet treatment wins the day

cameron red carpet muscat

Saudi Arabia, with Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan led a gulf coalition airstrike against Yemen in March. The Obama administration is supporting the Saudi-led air war with intelligence, air refueling operations and expediting weapons deliveries and other crucial support.

Today a Moseley reader draws our attention to the news reported by the Guardian that – eager to follow suit – David Cameron has extolled the ‘defence’ products made by BAE Systems and assured the company that every effort would be made by the UK government to support the selling of their equipment to Saudi Arabia, Oman and other countries.

This, despite the European parliament’s vote in favour of an EU-wide ban on arms being sold to Saudi Arabia in protest at its heavy aerial bombing of Yemen, which has been condemned by the UN.

According to a BBC report, Houthis – aka Shiite Muslim rebels – are seeking change from weak governance, corruption, resource depletion and poor infrastructure, unemployment, high food prices, limited social services and large-scale displacement.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets of the capital, Sana’a, to voice their anger at the Saudi invasion.

yemen bombing

Death and destruction: the fruits of Saudi, UK, USA labour

 

Chamber of Shame’s revolving door: the interests of the already rich are served and media further compromised

Clearly at the service of the multinationals, especially arms manufacturers and United States/Israel/Gulf states – and not those whom they were elected to serve – the Conservative cabinet goes full steam ahead to consolidate these links:

From Abu Dhabi Airports to the UK Ministry of Defence

tony douglasAs the electorate sees cuts to basic services, the coalition government has decided to appoint Tony Douglas, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports, with most useful Middle East contacts, as the new chief executive of Defence Equipment and Support (DE & S) on Tuesday. The FT reports: “The new chief of Britain’s armaments programme is to be rewarded with a £285,000 salary and £250,000 performance-related annual bonus, making him the highest earner in Whitehall and the latest in a new line of senior business figures lured into the public sector with the promise of private sector levels of pay”.

Now to the BBC Trust: Sir Roger Carr, arms manufacturer, representing your average license fee payer?

sir roger carrInvestigative journalist Felicity Arbuthnot adds another breathtaking example: Roger Carr, the chairman of Europe’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems and Visiting Fellow of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, has just been appointed as Vice-Chair of the BBC Trust, ludicrously, “to represent license fee payers views”. The BBC is established under a Royal Charter and – under an agreement with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – is to serve the public, inform, educate and entertain.

BBC impartiality further compromised?

BBCarms88The BBC Trust is its governing body, mandated to ensure that the BBC delivers that mission – and ‘speak peace’ according to the charter coat of arms.

But truth?

On a range of issues, grossly skewed information has led to floods of public protest and the official 2004 Hutton Inquiry investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly, a biological warfare expert and former UN weapons inspector in Iraq challenged the BBC’s journalistic standards and its impartiality.

CAAT protests that BAE Systems has armed dictatorships and human rights abusers around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. It has presented a petition asking the BBC to cut its ties with Carr and the arms trade.

The Guardian’s gross omission

Disturbingly, the Guardian, still read by many thoughtful people, does not mention this affiliation, listing only Carr’s former appointments.

99%-3If any of the 99% vote for Conservatives in May, they will deserve all the ill-treatment they get – but would Labour, with previous New Labour incumbents, do much better in office?

British-made drones: killing civilians and breeding the desire for revenge

On The Top 10%, Open letter 1 to Professor Snowden, then President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (2009–10), urged the IET to take defence ethics seriously.

It was written after IET had invited Dick Olver, the Chairman of BAE Systems, one of the world’s largest arms firms, to give the keynote speech on ‘Ethical Leadership’ !

A year later, Professor Snowden’s correspondent attended the 2010 defence lecture on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles which “provided a rare opportunity to hear Air Commodore Tom Cross, the senior MOD proponent of a significant defence capability”. 

Like the related article in the IET’s magazine, only technical issues were raised; no mention was made of the immorality of these barbaric civilian-killing drones. See: Legal action taken on behalf of civilian victims of CIA drone attacks and the Drone Campaign Network.

Engineers should use their skills to build and defend, not destroy

The writer concluded that engineers should use their skills to build and defend, not destroy, and a following post noted that some engineers, technologists and scientists take an ethical stance, citing Scientists for Global Responsibility [SGR], an independent UK-based membership organisation of about 1000 natural and social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. SGR promotes ethical science, design and technology that contributes to peace, social justice and environmental sustainability.

PCU’s last word on BAE systems and the arms industry

Prompted by a link sent by Rianne: BAE Systems hires Britain’s former envoy to Saudi Arabia: Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who played a key role in ending the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation into BAE’s al-Yamamah arms deal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/18/envoy-saudi-bae-systems.

Selected entries from PCU’s archive:

Arms industry

A pragmatist asks if Britain still needs an arms industry – 2007 http://www.spectator.co.uk/business/104601/does-britain-still-need-an-arms-industry.thtml

Money spent on McKinsey, consultants well-integrated in political circles but lacking relevant military and industrial experience:  http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&article=155&issue=1249

MP Douglas Carswell calls for investigation of for senior civil servant Sir Kevin Tebbitt now employed in arms industry 2010: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1265017/Troops-pay-blood-price-ex-MoD-chief-protects-1bn-helicopter-contract.html#ixzz0klHBBdgX

Lock the Revolving Door: http://www.caat.org.uk/campaigns/calltheshots/revolving.php

BAE systems

Bribery allegations 2008: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/engineering/article3958404.ece

The most persistent mendicants for public funds are the arms exporters 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2b8b272e-a4b4-11df-8c9f-00144feabdc0.html

Lobbying 2010: http://order-order.com/2010/06/28/up-in-arms-back-again-despite-being-twice-stripped-of-passloophole-lets-lobbyist-back-into-legislature-for-third-time/

Conflict of interest: Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the BBC chief who played a pivotal role in how the corporation covered the Iraq war and the David Kelly affair, stands to profit out of a firm with lucrative military contracts in Iraq: http://bpc-world.co.uk/2010/09/bbc-governor-under-fire-for-iraq-contracts/

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Search Results – on this site:

Celebrate – the ‘Industry and Parliament Trust’ has achieved its aims! January 11th, 2011

Through the revolving defence door – Lady Ann Taylor December 18th, 2010

Corporate hospitality will be under scrutiny – a good move? December 3rd, 2010

Bad decisions by government – 15: BAE aircraft carrier contract November 5th, 2010

The Defence Review: Steven Schofield November 3rd, 2010

The Speaker’s 100% solution: a ban on second jobs for MPs August 5th, 2010

New government: time to pursue corporate tax evaders June 1st, 2010

Bad decisions by government – 3: manipulation of the press April 30th, 2010

Bad decisions made by government – 2: subservience to the arms industry. April 29th, 2010

MP calls for an investigation into defence contractors’ influence in Whitehall April 11th, 2010

Symon Hill: Government is treating corporate fraud more lightly than benefit fraud February 22nd, 2010

The Revolving Door: news from the CAAT newsletter and other sources February 5th, 2010

Direct action February 5th, 2010

BAE Systems – guilty February 5th, 2010

Campaign Against the Arms Trade and other groups focus on BAE, advisors and government February 4th, 2010

Will continuing to write about this make the slightest difference?