By Mike Small
What’s emerging is not an alternative case for the Union but a war against the limited democracy we have. The revelation that Better Together is bankrolled (‘Tory to the core‘) by spivs, spooks and spies is maybe not surprising but it does clarify matters. All the big donors were Conservative supporters. But there’s murky backers emerging all over the place. Chief amongst them are the company ‘Hakluyt’ (named after a 16th century author who wrote about journeys to far-off lands). According to former Director Christopher James, Hakluyt: “places an unparalleled private intelligence network at the personal disposal of senior commercial figures.”
The firm was accused in a 2001 Sunday Times article of helping BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc spy on Greenpeace using a German agent called Manfred Schlickenrieder, who posed as a film-maker. A 1997 message in German from then Hakluyt Director Mike Reynolds discussed the location of Greenpeace ships and asked Schlickenrieder to use his informants to find out how the organization would respond to being sued.
Sir Keith Craig an ‘army veteran’ who works for Hakluyt gave £10,000. The Sunday Herald reports:
… perhaps the most intriguing donor – is Christopher Wilkins, the chairman of North British Wind Energy Ltd, who gave £10,000.
A former Welsh Guards officer, in 1995 he helped found the Mayfair-based private intelligence company Hakluyt alongside several former members of the secret intelligence service MI6. Hakluyt, which continues to employ ex-spies, was later found to have infiltrated and spied on Greenpeace on behalf of Shell and BP.
Wilkins, 72, last night said he had set up Hakluyt, but had left 15 years ago. “I am not in that game. I was on the edge of that game. I did Hakluyt. I helped set it up. It was an interesting operation at an interesting time and life has moved on.”
He’s not alone amongst people with a background in ‘intelligence’ and ‘ex-military’. Simon Crane, CEO of the security company Edinburgh International (founded in Baghdad in 2003), which ‘supplies bodyguards’ in Afghanistan, gave £15,000. According to their website, Edinburgh International are now a ‘full service’ security company who provide a one-stop-shop of outsourced services to organisations operating in ‘challenging environments’. Their permanent locations are UK, US, UAE, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Lebanon, Turkey, Nepal, Australia and Jordan. See their site here.
After Vitol, it’s these guys.
But whilst it’s amusing to think how this funding platform places Scottish Labour – essentially as Tory shills for the Union – the idea that these spooks are all Conservative contacts is not quite right.
Hakluyt & Co (now Hakluyt Ltd) was founded by Fitzroy MacLean in 1995. He was close friends with Elizabeth Smith, the wife of the late Labour leader who was on the Hakluyt board between 1998 and 2002. Smith himself was a Steering Commitee Member of the Bilderberg Group – as disclosed by Robin Ramsay in The Rise of New Labour.
What are we to make of this backing?
Derek Bateman puts it well (‘Know who your friends are’):
I was one of those who prickled at suggestions after the Radical Scotland conference claim that the No’s were the rich Yes were the poor. On this evidence I’m wrong. No is funded by the wealthy, the greedy, the seedy and the undemocratic. I loved the statement from Donald Houston who more or less own Ardnamurchan, an iconic peninsula in our country’s history. It’s the location of Castle Tioram, symbol of windswept resistance, which was burned down deliberately by the Macdonalds in 1715 to prevent it falling again into British Hanovarian hands. Sadly Donald is made of softer stuff. “We have spent 300 years building up a Union between our countries that has achieved so much”, he says. You can almost hear his incomprehension. It certainly has achieved much for him since he can afford to give £100,000 and half a million via his companies. The killer line though is: “I hope that other people in the same position as myself are also willing to contribute whatever they can.”
This is really about interest groups and individuals clinging on to raw power. The hilarious suggestion by the Bold Baron Wallace of Tankerness, that he’d stick around in the House of Lords after an independence vote is just more evidence that the penny hasn’t quite dropped for these people (‘Peers could remain Lords’).
It’s not just that the forces of the secret state back the No lobby – from Diomhair to the recent example of Amendment 54 there’s an urgency for power to be retained and there’s little qualms about how to do it.
The pronouncements of Andy Burnham on a pan-UK health policy make it clear the trajectory for unification if No wins. But what we know today is that the forces of the British State are emerging to back Project Fear.
But what don’t we know that they’re up to? Let’s find out.