2007 - 2020

The LM Network in Ireland

Bella Caledonia stands beside Spinwatch in demanding transparency and honesty from groups like Forth (‘forward thinking from Ireland’). This article, which originally appeared in Forth’s online magazine is about disinformation and covert groups posturing as left with a right wing agenda.  At the end of a fortnight of electoral spin and counter spin DAVID MILLER and CLAIRE ROBINSON of SpinWatch respond to Forth‘s own distortion and expose yet another LM Network front group:

We write to correct inaccuracies and misinformation in two recent Forth articles: Will Deighton’s ‘How Zac Goldsmith bought the green movement’ and the anonymously authored ‘Beware of Tory heir tax exiles bearing chequebooks’ (published 23 April 2010). We assume that the latter was also written by Will Deighton as it appears on a new blog, SpinWatchwatch, where he is listed as the author.  We also want to raise some queries about the identity of ‘Will Deighton’ and consequently about the policy of Forth in publishing such material.

First, we will deal with the inaccuracies, which we ask Forth to correct. We will go on to discuss the network or organization that appears to be linked to these articles in Forth.

Transparency and SpinWatch.

SpinWatch is a small non-profit organisation created in 2005.  It provides public interest reporting on spin and deception and campaigns for lobbying transparency.  We were co-founders of the Europe-wide Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation[1] and the more recent UK campaign, the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency.[2]

As campaigners for lobbying transparency, we acknowledge that we ourselves are engaged in lobbying activities (for lobbying transparency) and that we should also be transparent.  That is why we disclose the names of all our funders and the amounts they give us.  We also insist that, with the potential exception of pressing issues of personal safety, people do not use pseudonyms or false names or post anonymously on our websites.  If a pseudonym is used, we will acknowledge that. Our critics are less forthcoming.  We ask readers to judge our arguments against those of our critics on the quality of argument, the strength of the evidence and the openness and transparency of those making the case.

We turn now to the specific allegations. Deighton claims that ‘there is a big gap in SpinWatch’s encyclopedia of Spin. Where is the entry for the millionaire Zac Goldsmith? Where is the exposure of the Tory-led JMG Foundation, and its many contributions to green groups? There is none, because SpinWatch is one of those green groups taking the Goldsmith shilling.’

He also refers to ‘Another JMG funded “SpinWatch” off-shoot, “nuclearspin”,’ which implies that there has been more than one project funded by JMG.  Deighton goes on to note that NuclearSpin ‘was criticised for attacking pro-nuclear Labour MPs, but not their Tory counterparts.’ He quotes Private Eye (26 May 2006) in asking, ‘Might this by any chance be related to the fact that the JMG Foundation was created by Zac Goldsmith, David Cameron’s “green guru”?’ Later, Deighton notes, ‘Luckily for SpinWatch, and others, another foundation has stepped in to fill any shortfall in their income.’

There are several significant errors of fact here. First, and contrary to Deighton’s implication, SpinWatch has had only one grant from the JMG Foundation.  The grant was given four years ago, in 2006, and was for the sum of £2,280. It was given to us as part funding for our project on the push for nuclear new build.  Deighton presumably knew this since he cites other details of the funding of SpinWatch all of which are available on our website.[3]  Other organisations that contributed to that project included Greenpeace UK, the Network for Social Change, Greenpeace International and Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation.

It is misleading to suggest that another organisation has stepped in to ‘cover the shortfall’.  In fact the grants we have had from the Isvara foundation have been largely for work on lobby transparency as opposed to work on nuclear issues, and they have obviously been significantly larger than the grant from JMG.

Claire Robinson has never had ‘a stint at Horse & Rider’, The Ecologist, or any other magazine. She has written as a freelance for those magazines, among other outlets. While GMWatch has received funding in the past from the JMG Foundation, it has not applied for or received any funding from that source for at least the last five years.

Deighton’s statement that the NuclearSpin project was soft on the Tories is untrue.  The project looked at the lobbying efforts of the nuclear industry to change government policy on nuclear rebuild.  The industry used lobbying firms to target people they thought would be important in making the decision – mainly the government.  Since the government making the decision was a Labour government, this was where lobbying was targeted and this was what we exposed.

Turning to Deighton’s most bizarre claim, SpinProfiles and SpinWatch get accused of many things, but a pro-Tory bias has seldom been one of them. It is perfectly plain to all who read or follow SpinWatch or SpinProfiles that we do not have a soft spot for the Conservative Party. Much of our work is on hidden agendas and vested interests and our main campaigning work over the last two years has been in relation to lobbying transparency as co-founders of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency in the UK.  In that campaign, the only mainstream party not to sign up to our key demand of a statutory register for lobbyists is the Conservative Party.  We have sharply criticised the Tories for this, as can be seen on SpinWatch. Moreover, we are more than happy for other organisations that support transparency and accountability in public life to join ALT. They can join even if they are critical of SpinWatch, because this is a broad-based and non-sectarian
campaign.

Deighton’s assertion that there is no page on Zac Goldsmith because of the link with JMG is at best misleading.  SpinProfiles is a fast growing wiki database that was launched only last year.  It has some 9500 pages on it currently and it has not, as yet,  been able to create pages on many important figures and organisations.  At present we are looking at a wide range of activities including the tactics of the food and alcohol industry, networks of free market think tanks across Europe, and think tanks and other agencies producing ‘expertise’ on ‘terrorism’. We would encourage anyone who wants to help with this and can sign up to our value statement to get in touch. Our values, as described in our editorial policy, include upholding international law, universal human rights, social justice, and environmental protection. Spinprofiles opposes racism of every sort, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, opposes deception, and promotes
transparency.[4]

Turning to the Forth profile of Zac Goldsmith, which, while anonymous and now removed from the Forth website, has appeared elsewhere under the name of ‘Will Deighton’,[5] we could not take up the offer to include it in Spinprofiles as it violates our editorial policies on several grounds.

First, no references or sources are given for the allegations and claims in the profile. We ask that all material submitted to the site be adequately referenced.[6] While not all the older articles meet this requirement – we are slowly bringing them up to standard – all new material must meet this standard.

Second, many of the claims made in the profile were factually wrong and therefore do not meet our policy of trying to ensure accuracy.[7] It is not accurate to say Zac Goldsmith ‘funds’ SpinProfiles and SpinWatch because the sole grant was in 2006 before SpinProfiles was even launched (in 2009). We would not claim that Zac Goldsmith has used ‘front organisations’ to funnel money into ‘environmental causes’ because we have no evidence of that. JMG Foundation openly funds environmental campaigning organisations, but a front group disguises its true purpose. SpinProfiles and SpinWatch do not qualify as ‘front organisations’ as we are open about our sources of funding.

Third, our policy on accuracy leads into our policy of avoiding libel and defamation.[8] Where we make or repeat allegations about a person or organisation, we name the source of the allegation and try to establish whether the target of the allegation has denied or replied to it. If we become aware of a reply, we publish it. We believe that everyone has the right to reply to articles on SpinProfiles and have often published statements from people who believe that there is another side to a story. Accordingly, on SpinProfiles’ new page on Zac Goldsmith, we name one of the major newspapers that reported the non-dom story and publish his reply to the allegation.[9] This is ethically fair, meets our policy guidelines, and is correct procedure in law.

Finally, the profile of Zac Goldsmith that appeared on Forth was unacceptable because it was anonymously authored. It is SpinProfiles’ policy that every contributor writes or edits under his or her own name.[10] This rule is rigorously  enforced.

The site was started to monitor PR and lobbying activities and has grown into a resource for monitoring power networks in a more general sense. Last year we attempted to catalogue the conflicts of interest of all Members of the European Parliament in our MEPedia project.[11]  On the UK Parliament we have not been able to comprehensively cover all MPs and Lords, never mind on Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (such as Zac Goldsmith). We have focused some campaigning work on PPCs with lobbying industry connections – as can be seen in many of the posts on SpinWatch in the past few weeks and months.[12]  There are many gaps remaining, but we have had no policy or intent to exclude specific people such as Goldsmith.  In fact, we only have a very short page on his very right-wing father.  Since the publication of the article on Forth, one of our contributors has started a page on Zac on their own initiative.  Our editorial priorities direct which areas we put resources into, but our users often follow their own leads and interests, which is as it should be. On the JMG Foundation, given that it funds largely progressive causes, we do not see it as a priority, but we have no policy against profiling it.

Much of the work done by SpinWatch is critical of the hidden agendas pulling the levers of public policy in the UK, the EU and across the world.  In particular we are critical of neoliberal ideology – the notion that the market acts as a guide and ethic for action in all matters of public policy.  With few caveats, the neoliberal model has been accepted by the Tories and New Labour alike – as well as by most mainstream parties in Ireland and beyond. While we do produce material that can be seen as ‘green’, SpinWatch is a wider organisation and we also focus on human rights abuses, class polarisation, and the crisis in democracy occasioned by the rise of neoliberalism, corporate power and the US dominance in global politics.

Some don’t agree with our material and views, and we are happy to debate factually-based objections. But it hasn’t escaped our notice that many of the attacks on critics of neoliberalism over the past two decades have followed certain narrow and repeated lines of argument. They are often non-rational ad hominem attacks, labelling environmentalists and other critics in emotive yet ill-defined terms such as ‘anti-science,’ ‘anti-technology,’ ‘terrorists’, and ‘Nazis’. [13] In the UK, these types of attacks have often emanated from outlets dominated by a small group of people – often with no expertise in the field of knowledge in question – that some commentators have called the ‘LM network’. The line of argument adopted by Will Deighton sounds to us very similar to the line repeatedly pushed by the LM network and indeed he has in the past written for Living Marxism.

LM as a network

The LM network is a loosely constituted network of individuals and organisations sharing an extreme libertarian and anti-environmentalist ideology. It is led and largely comprises individuals associated with the now defunct Revolutionary Communist Party and its principal publication, also defunct, titled Living Marxism. When the RCP was dissolved in 1996, it publicly abandoned Marxism and changed its focus to a more amorphous ‘humanism’.

One of the key members – the former editor of Living Marxism, is Mick Hume. An article in the Guardian in 1999 said of Hume: ‘he rehearses the LM worldview: the globe is “at the end of a political cycle of left and right”; class, once the foundation of all left-wing thinking, “is not a political factor”; there is “no alternative to the market”. Instead, the LM project has evolved into “reclaiming the human subject”‘.[14] This opened up the possibility that the ideas pushed by the famously libertarian RCP could float free from ideological moorings.

Perhaps it is better to suggest that LM provided the opportunity for those ideas to become harnessed by whoever could offer them the appropriate conditions of existence.  In practice this was to be the corporate sector. The principal LM themes, support for economic development and freedom from regulation, objectively benefit corporate interests. Thus the larger and more established LM-linked organisations seek and receive corporate sponsorship, either directly or via PR companies or free enterprise think tanks.

The network itself has no public presence or acknowledged existence, although associated organisations have overlapping personnel, themes, views and techniques and promote each other.  Many of the techniques are those of the RCP, including the creation of numerous organisations without apparent formal links, the launching of campaigns, the use of martial terminology and the early adoption of leading edge communication techniques.  A defining characteristic of the network is the positioning of its organisations as catalysts for debate, while in reality the debates are intended to promote their own views. [15]

Those associated with the network routinely deny that there is any such thing.

For example, Brendan O’Neill of Spiked writes:

“Those who oppose what some of our writers have said about Western intervention, environmentalism and free speech have not taken up the arguments head-on but rather have said, ‘Well look who’s funding them…. look who they have meetings with…. what do you expect?’ These attacks should be understood as part of the broader climate of conspiracy-mongering today, where robust political debate has given way to a kind of cowardly dinner-party whispering campaign about individuals’ motives or personal interests and private lives.” [16]

Writing on Wikipedia LM and Spiked columnist James Heartfield (born James Hughes) states, ‘there was no such network – or if there was, I was not a part of it.'[17] A largely sympathetic article about the LM network in the THES, which cites Claire Fox as the main source, states:

“The standards of proof used by some former RCP watchers to establish a conspiracy appear to be low. Fox argues that almost any organisation could be convicted on a similar charge. ‘What they are saying is that if you have had any connection with the RCP and you have since got on with your life, then whoever you work for now is a front organisation for the RCP, which doesn’t even exist.'[18]

But these are ‘straw man’ arguments that easily be demolished. Yes, the RCP no longer exists – no one said it does. What critics of LM are saying is that the RCP appears to have spawned a network that appears to be working together in concert to promote a certain very predictable line. Frank Furedi, former RCP theorist, goes a little further in his denunciations of the LM critics:

“It is so fascistic. It is McCarthyism… It is completely fair to call me a schmuck, but these people are not debating. They are saying I should not be listened to because I am a conspirator… That kind of conspiracy theory, historically, used to be an argument of the Right. It was characteristic of the Right to talk about masonic conspiracy, about Jewish plots, but now we are seeing parts of the Left being obsessed with this kind of stuff. ” [19]

If we look more closely at the evidence of their activities we can see that these organisations are linked and cross promote one another in a dizzying web of interconnections.  SpinProfiles has a large number of pages on the network and we are working to make the network connections as clear as possible.[20]  But you don’t have to take our word for it. Close attention to the accounts given by participants in the network gives enough of a clue. For example, the rest of the above quote from Claire Fox is as follows:

Certainly, there is a network of like-minded people. Some people do come from an RCP background, because we have a long intellectual history together, and we do work together sometimes, but it is just wrong to imagine that there is some revolutionary cell. [21]

We have no quarrel with this part of what Fox says. Former editor of LM, Mick Hume agreed when he admitted that ‘The network of people I live and work with contain lots of people who were members of the RCP.'[22]  The following account by Dolan Cummings (of Spiked and the Institute of Ideas), takes the argument a little further:

I never left the RCP: the organisation folded in the mid-Nineties, but few of us actually ‘recanted’ our ideas. Instead we resolved to support one another more informally as we pursued our political tradition as individuals, or launched new projects with more general aims that have also engaged people from different traditions, or none. These include spiked and the Institute of Ideas, where I now work. … [T]he impossibility of simply doing away with a school of thought that is no longer attached to an organisation is perhaps what annoys our opponents most of all.[23]

So , far from being a ‘conspiracy theory’, the notion of a continuing network is supported by evidence from the accounts of those involved.

Transparency and funding

The LM network has never been transparent about its funding. Not one of its myriad organisations provides a breakdown of all funders and how much they have provided. We do know, however, that they are funded by some of the same corporations that fund the right wing think tanks that are dedicated to obscuring the damage that corporations do to the environment, human rights and democracy.  For example, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer has funded both Spiked and the Institute of Ideas. [24]  As well as funding the LM network, Pfizer also funds a wide range of free market think tanks such as the US-based Competitive Enterprise Institute  and Cato Institute, [25] the Netherlands-based Edmund Burke Foundation,[26] the Brussels based Centre for the New Europe (which also does work on climate funded by Exxon),[27]  and the UK’s Social Market Foundation. [28]  Pfizer’s bosses fund these organisations for the same reason they are part of one of the most important global corporate lobby groups, the International Chamber of Commerce[29] – to safeguard their licence to make profit.

Pfizer also funds the American Council on Science and Health, a deceptive front group,[30] and two organisations with which the LM network has connections, the Science Media Centre[31] and Sense About Science. Both are engaged in managing debate about scientific issues.[32] The obvious evidence-based conclusion is that all these organisations are useful to Pfizer’s corporate strategy.

Other corporations and corporate lobby groups that have funded the LM network are BT, Cadbury Schweppes, IBM, Novartis, Orange, O2, The Mobile Operators Association and the Society of the Chemical Industry.[33]  This kind of funding makes it look as if the LM network is a collection of lobbying or PR outfits.  Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest lobby firms also fund the network.  Hill and Knowlton is one of the most controversial lobbying and PR firms in the world, having famously been behind the deception on the incubator baby story in Kuwait in 1990/91. It also worked for a long list of controversial corporations, including some from the oil, tobacco, pharma, fast food, and GM industry. It worked too for repressive regimes, including Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Morocco, Turkey – and China after the Tiananmen square massacre.[34]  Along with PR firm Luther Pendragon (which has worked for the Hinduja brothers, Macdonalds, Pepsi, the GM industry and
others),[35] Hill and Knowlton has put up cash for LM network events.

The LM network has also worked with other free market think tanks such as the International Policy Network (which took money from Exxon for climate change ‘outreach’)[36] and the Social Issues Research Centre (which takes money from the food, alcohol and tech industry and downplays the risks from their products).[37]

The LM Agenda

So, what is the LM agenda? Wherever they go, LM-ers peddle a definite ‘line’. They share an anti-environmentalist libertarian ideology that has more in common with the extreme pro-corporate US-based Wise Use movement than the old left groups from which LM sprang.

The Wise Use ideology was summed up by its pioneer Ron Arnold, who was also a former Dow Chemical consultant and head of the Washington State chapter of the American Freedom Coalition, the political arm of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Arnold said of the think tank he headed, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise,[38] “We created a sector of public opinion that didn’t used to exist. No one was aware that environmentalism was a problem until we came along… We want to destroy environmentalists by taking their money and their members.'[39]

Since the rise of the anti-capitalist movement in the late 1990s, the corporations have attempted to undermine their critics in any way they can.  The full range of tactics is used, from infiltration to the use of legal and other complaints. They have also conducted  aggressive ideological onslaughts intended to staunch the flow of funds to groups that campaign against corporate power. As early as 2001, the Financial Times reported, ‘In recent months, companies and conservative foundations have been clubbing together behind the fronts of industry-wide lobby groups to try to staunch the flow of funds to counter-capitalist groups.’  The FT mentioned in particular Frontiers of Freedom (backed by oil companies such as Exxon, defence groups and pharmaceuticals businesses), and the Guest Choice Network, who ‘are backing groups which they describe as being part of the ‘Nanny culture’. [40]  The US-based Guest Choice Network is now known as the Center for Consumer Freedom and is one of the most notorious smear operations targeting progressive activists and campaigns.  The CCF has also worked with Ron Arnold’s Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

Back issues of LM Magazine feature a number of articles from such pro-market voices, including in 1998 one from Ron Arnold himself which, according to journalist George Monbiot, claimed that ‘the Unabomber is an environmentalist, ergo all environmentalists are terrorists[41].’ LM is on these questions little different from a corporate-funded front group.  Just like the front groups that write to the corporations offering to do work on GM, tobacco, food or climate, LM’s Frank Furedi and John Gillott wrote in 1998 offering their services ‘to the major superstores and the Food and Drink Federation, proposing to “educate” consumers towards a “less emotive” consideration of food safety’.[42]

All this suggests that the LM network continues to be interested in attacking critics of the corporations or of its own activities.

Forth

Forth magazine itself has a number of connections to the LM network.  The author of the articles attacking SpinWatch, Will Deighton, has written for Living Marxism/LM Magazine.[43] Jason Walsh, the editor of Forth, has written for the LM-linked online magazine Spiked.[44]

Nine other Forth writers have either written for Living Marxism, or for LM network  initiatives[45]:
·      Andrew Calcutt, contributor to Forth, is described on a Battle of Ideas (a project of the LM-linked Institute of Ideas)[46] website bio as a ‘longstanding contributor to spiked-online, and before that Living Marxism/LM’. [47]
·      Michael Fitzpatrick, named as a “contributor” to Forth, had a regular column in LM and was a contributor to Spiked.[48]
·      Pauline Hadaway has written for Spiked and LM and been involved with  LM-connected initiatives, the Battle of Ideas, the Manifesto Club and the Belfast Salon.[49]
·      James Heartfield, a contributor to Forth, has a long list of publications in Living Marxism/LM magazine.[50]
·      Rob Lyons, journalist, editor and IT developer, is deputy editor of Spiked.[51]
·      Brendan O’Neill, contributor to Forth, is the editor of Spiked. He started his career in journalism at Spiked’s predecessor, Living Marxism.[52]
·      Patrick West, contributor to Forth, also writes for Spiked.[53] According to his blog, he has written for Living Marxism.[54]
·      Philip Hammond[55] and Timandra Harkness[56], both writers for Spiked, have provided articles for Forth.

As far as we can tell from the Forth website, that is ten (excluding Walsh) out of a total of about thirty-five contributors. None of this shows that Forth is a project of LM or a front for it. But given what we are about to discuss, we think that these links raise important questions about Forth, to which we will return at the end of this article.

Who is Will Deighton?

The more pressing question is about the author of the pieces attacking SpinWatch.  As we noted above a ‘Will Deighton’ has written for Living Marxism in the past (back in 1998 and 1999). But aside from this, there is very little public information available on Will Deighton, either on the web, on the electoral roll or in other sources.  Given the propensity for LM, and the RCP before it, to use ‘Party names’ or pen names, we looked a little closer. We should note that the RCP penchant for false names appeared not to be a matter only of protecting the revolutionaries from the prying eyes of the state or of their employers, since they also used their real names.  Thus Frank Furedi would also write as Frank Richards, Fiona and Claire Fox would write as Fiona or Claire Foster, etc. Perhaps this was intended to suggest that the LM network had more activists that it actually had?  Perhaps ‘Will Deighton’ was a cover name?

Clues to Deighton’s real identity include that fact that the original article by Will Deighton was posted to the email list of the Left Business Observer by James Heartfield. Heartfield is a long-time LM network participant and former leading member of the RCP who helped, by his own account, [57] to write its manifesto, Preparing for Power, in the 1980s.[58]  Except it was not the same article.  It included new and additional references and had a different translation for the term ‘Isvara’. How did Heartfield get a different version of the article – unless he is in very close contact with ‘Deighton’?

Another coincidence is that Heartfield himself has written in very similar terms about Goldsmith and SpinWatch – for example, in this piece in New Geography;

Zac inherited £300 million from his father, asset-stripping financier Sir James Goldsmith, using the proceeds to finance his pet causes through his own grant-making bodies, the JMG Foundation and the Isvara Foundation… He has financed his own web-site SpinWatch to ‘expose’ corporate lobbying – though as Private Eye pointed out, its attack on the nuclear industry was curiously selective, mentioning no Tories, only Labour-backing investors (26 May 2006).[59]

Here Heartfield repeats Deighton’s reference to Private Eye, but introduces further falsehoods.  The Isvara foundation is nothing to do with Zac or any other Goldsmith.  SpinWatch is not Goldsmith’s ‘own’, as we have indicated above. Heartfield presumably knows this as he appears to have read the ‘Who Funds SpinWatch?’ page on our website.

A further indication of a possible link is to be found in the archives of Living Marxism.  ‘Deighton’ had written several articles for Living Marxism in 1998 and 1999.  On each occasion the issue also had at least one article also by Heartfield.  In the original online LM archive, each article included a word from the title or sometimes the first name of the author in the URL.  Thus ‘Ann’ referred to ‘Ann Bradley’ (real name Ann Furedi).[60]  In some editions, however, the surnames of authors are used in the URL.[61]  Thus James Heartfield’s article, “Agribusiness and its helpful critics”, has a URL ending: /LM124_Heartfield_Agri.html.[62]  This is unusual in the issue as most of the other articles only have the surname and not also a part word from the title. But it would make sense if there was another article from Heartfield in the issue, in order to distinguish them.  But according to the contents page, there is no other Heartfield article.  There is one written by ‘Will Deighton’ on East Timor.

The URL of the Deighton article does not, however, contain the name ‘deighton’, but instead ends as follows: /LM124_Heartfield_Timor.html.[63] This does not prove that ‘Deighton’ is Heartfield, but it does raise uncertainties about the identity of Deighton and his links to James Heartfield.

Heartfield has been interested in SpinWatch and SpinProfiles for some time. In January 2010, Heartfield tried to sign up for the SpinProfiles email list.  When we asked who he was, he wrote:

I am a Ph. D. student at Westminster University, and have written on the influence of consultancies and PFI on government in Britain for Mute  http://www.metamute.org/content/state_capitalism_in_britain , and on ‘Greenwashing’ as well as contributing to the journal Critique.  I have been a user on Wikipedia and Sourcewatch.[64]

This account arguably does not do justice to the full range of Heartfield’s achievements.  It mentions some activities that might plausibly indicate his involvement in progressive, even, environmental activities – such as the PFI article and his alleged work on ‘greenwashing’ as well as a contribution to Critique, a genuine Marxist journal.  Perhaps the mentions of Sourcewatch and Wikipedia, both wiki projects like SpinProfiles, might have persuaded us of his bona fides.  Sourcewatch is, after all, a sort of sister project to SpinProfiles, run by our colleagues at PR Watch in the US.  So we had a look. The saga of Heartfield’s involvement – as reported on Sourcewatch – begins as follows:

On 22 December 2004, the James Heartfield article was vandalised to remove references to:
·      Heartfield’s involvement with the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-authorship of its manifesto.
·      His pseudonym James Hughes.
·      His wife Eve Kaye and her work on the anti-environmentalism documentary Against Nature.
·      A link to a GM Watch profile of the LM group.
·      “Heartfield is now a director of LM front group Audacity.org, promoting the network’s critique of sustainable development to the construction industry.” was changed to “Heartfield is now a director of Audacity.org, campaigning for more house-building.””.
·      Various items of personal information and a list of various outlets in which Heartfield has had worked published was substituted in its place. The given summary of this editing was “more information, less pejoratives”.
·      This is certainly the work of someone familiar enough with James Heartfield to know his place and year of birth, names of his daughters, and six different publications he has written for. I am afraid I can’t resist the temptation to suggest that this may be Heartfield himself. Members of the LM group are certainly less keen on free speech when they are on the receiving end.[65]

The user then went on to add material that he repeatedly reposted, following deletions by other Sourcewatch users.  The day after receiving appeals to block this user, the editor of Sourcewatch wrote:

While wary of banning a contributor during edit exchanges the insistence of 82.35.83.89 in deleting other users fair and accurate contributions to the Heartfield page is unwarranted. In recent changes rather than addressing the specific objections of what is on the page 82.35** has insisted on his/her version of the page. I’m blocking the user to ensure other contributors time is not wasted.[66]

It later transpired that the anonymous user was in fact Heartfield.  Between November 2005 and February 2008, Heartfield went on to make a number of other edits to the page using his own name.  These included uploading a new picture of himself.[67]

Meanwhile, over at Wikipedia, Heartfield was conducting a similar campaign. His first action at Wikipedia was to create a page on himself on the same day (22 December 2004) that he was editing the Sourcewatch page on himself.  He made three edits using the same anonymous IP address from which he had edited Sourcewatch (82.35.83.89).

Between then and June 2009, Heartfield made a number of other edits on Wikipedia adding publications and details including favourable comments on himself such as: ‘Nick Bell named Heartfield as “one of the most important commentators on design”.'[68]

On 1 June 2009 information on his link to the RCP and Living Marxism, and the name of his wife and her link to Against Nature, were added for the first time. While the entries also included some erroneous information, Heartfield was quick to remove all of the factual material relating to the RCP, etc., the very next day.  The factual information was re-inserted by another user on 14 September 2009.[69] Heartfield removed the link with LM on the 30 October 2009, but left the RCP link.[70]  At the time of writing (2May 2010) the LM link is still missing from the Wikipedia page.

Wikipedia discourages users from writing or creating pages about themselves: ‘Writing an autobiography on Wikipedia is strongly discouraged’.[71] Its guidance notes: ‘Conflict of interest often presents itself in the form of self-promotion, including advertising links, personal website links, personal or semi-personal photos’.[72]

The LM agenda is thus in part about trying to remove from the web factual information about their connections. Not much transparency there. The attack on SpinProfiles is part of that attempt.  Part of the reason for this may well be that SpinProfiles is one of the best and most prominent sources of information on the LM network on the web.  But we should see this in a wider context than just the LM network’s own attempts to rewrite history.

Questions for Forth.

These connections between the LM network do not by themselves show that Forth is a ‘front’ for LM.  Indeed, the editor Jason Walsh has claimed in an email to SpinProfiles that ‘Forth publishes all kinds of arguments, including pro-green ones’, adding that he doesn’t have a ‘line’. Certainly Forth lists a number of writers from across the political spectrum, including green, socialist, Republican and Unionist voices.  We are happy to give Forth the benefit of the doubt for the moment.  However, there are some questions that we think that Forth needs to answer, as well as making the corrections to the original article that we list above.  So, Jason, can you tell us:

1.    Did you know that Will Deighton was a pseudonym when you published the article?
2.  Are you aware of the real identity of ‘Will Deighton’, and if so, can you confirm it, providing evidence, in Forth?
3.  Do any other writers for Forth use undisclosed pseudonyms?  If so, please disclose this – and where possible, reveal who they really are.
4.   What is Forth’s view on anonymous or pseudonymous contributors and will you now include as one of Forth’s stated policies that such contributions will not be accepted in future?

[1] http://www.alter-eu.org
[2] http://www.lobbyingtransparency.org
[3] SpinWatch ‘Who funds SpinWatch?’, http://www.spinwatch.org/about-SpinWatch-mainmenu-13/3705-who-funds-Spinwatch
[4]  SpinProfiles ‘Editorial Policy’ http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=spinprofiles:Editorial_Policy
[5] Will Deighton Spinwatchwatch blog, http://spinwatchwatch.wordpress.com/
[6] SpinProfiles referencing policy: http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=SpinProfiles:A_Guide_to_Referencing
[7] SpinProfiles libel policy: http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=spinprofiles:Libel
[8] SpinProfiles libel policy: http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=spinprofiles:Libel
[9]  SpinProfiles ‘Zac Goldsmith’, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Zac_Goldsmith
[10] SpinProfiles:How to Register as a User: http://www.SpinProfiles.org/index.php?title=spinprofiles:How_to_Register_as_a_User#Do_I_have_to_use_my_real_name_when_registering_as_a_User.3F
[11]  See SpinProfiles ‘MEPedia’ http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=MEPedia
[12]  See http://www.SpinWatch.org; http://www.lobbyingtransparency.org/
[13] See SpinProfiles, Martin Durkin, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Martin_Durkin; SpinProfiles, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, http://spinprofiles.org/index.php/Center_for_the_Defense_of_Free_Enterprise
[14] Andy Beckett, ‘Licence to rile’ guardian.co.uk, Saturday 15 May 1999 http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/1999/may/15/weekend7.weekend2
[15] See SpinProfiles, Institute of Ideas, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Institute_of_Ideas
[16] Brendan O’Neill ‘Gossip dressed up as investigative journalism’ Spiked, 23 February 2006, http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000CAF90.htm
[17] Wikipedia ‘Talk:James Heartfield’
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:James_Heartfield
[18] Chris Bunting ‘What’s a nice Trot doing in a place like this?’
Times Higher Education 28 January 2005  http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=193769
[19] Chris Bunting ‘What’s a nice Trot doing in a place like this?’
Times Higher Education 28 January 2005  http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=193769
[20] SpinProfiles ‘Category:LM network’ http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Category:LM_network
[21] Chris Bunting ‘What’s a nice Trot doing in a place like this?’
Times Higher Education 28 January 2005  http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=193769
[22] Andy Beckett, ‘Licence to rile’ Licence to rile guardian.co.uk, Saturday 15 May 1999 http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/1999/may/15/weekend7.weekend2
[23] Dolan Cummings, ‘In defence of “radicalisation”‘, sp!ked review of books, No. 5, September 2007 http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_article/3855/
[24] See SpinProfiles, Spiked, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Spiked; Institute of Ideas, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Institute_of_Ideas
[25] See SpinProfiles, Competitive Enterprise Institute, http://spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Competitive_Enterprise_Institute#Funding; SpinProfiles, Cato Institute, http://spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Cato_Institute
[26] See SpinProfiles, ‘Edmund Burke Foundation’, http://spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Edmund_Burke_Foundation
[27] See SpinProfiles, ‘Centre for the New Europe’, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Centre_for_the_New_Europe
[28] See SpinProfiles, ‘Social Market Foundation’, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Social_Market_Foundation
[29] International Chamber of Commerce ‘Links to ICC member companies’ http://www.iccwbo.org/id19696/index.html
[30] Ray Moynihan Observations: Lobby Watch ‘American Council on Science and Health’ British Medical Journal 2010;340:c1819 Published 7 April 2010, http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/340/apr07_2/c1819 ; SpinProfiles, American Council on Science and Health, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=American_Council_on_Science_and_Health
[31] SpinProfiles ‘Science Media Centre’ http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Science_Media_Centre
[32] SpinProfiles ‘Sense About Science’ http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Sense_About_Science
[33] Funding sources compiled from Spiked ‘spiked – sponsorship packages’ http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/about/article/340, accessed 2 May 2010; Spiked Brand manager’s pack http://www.spiked-online.com/pdf/BrandManagersPack.pdf, accessed 2 May 2010; Andrew Billen, “A prickly opinion on just about everything”, The Times, 17 December 2002, accessed September 2008
[34] SpinProfiles ‘Hill and Knowlton’, http://spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Hill_and_Knowlton
[35] SpinProfiles ‘Luther Pendragon’ http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Luther_Pendragon
[36] SpinProfiles ‘International Policy Network’, http://spinprofiles.org/index.php/International_Policy_Network
[37] David Miller and Marisa De Andrade, ‘Observations: Lobby Watch: The Social Issues Research Centre’ British Medical Journal Published 3 March 2010;340:c484 http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/340/mar03_3/c484 Full text here: http://www.spinwatch.org/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/41-corporate-spin/5349-obby-watch-the-social-issues-research-centre
[38] See SpinProfiles, ‘Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise’ http://www.SpinProfiles.org/index.php/Center_for_the_Defense_of_Free_Eterprise
[39] Timothy Egan, ‘Fund-Raisers Tap Anti-Environmentalism’, New York Times, December 19, 1991 http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/19/us/fund-raisers-tap-anti-environmentalism.html?pagewanted=all
[40] James Harding ‘Feeding the hands that bite Part two: Bankrolling the movement’ Financial Times, October 15 2001 18:31GMT | Last Updated: October 15 2001 19:35GMT http://specials.ft.com/countercap/FT37OP0LUSC.html
[41] George Monbiot ‘Far Left or Far Right?  Living Marxism’s interesting allegiances’, Prospect Magazine, November 1998 Posted November 1, 1998 http://www.monbiot.com/archives/1998/11/01/far-left-or-far-right/
[42] Frank Furedi and Tony Gilland, 1998. Research Proposal: The impact of safety panics on the debate about the use of GMOs in food production. Sent to the superstores, Food and Drink Federation and National Farmers’ Union by Tony Gilland, from 23 Roslyn Road, London.: cited in George Monbiot ‘Invasion of the Entryists’ The Guardian 9th December 2003 http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2003/12/09/invasion-of-the-entryists/
[43] Will Deighton, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions: Why the pressure for international intervention in East Timor was destined to end in bloodshed”, LM Magazine, October 1999, http://globalresistance.com/analysis/road.htm; Will Deighton, ‘A Threat to Whom? What’s really behind the latest Gulf crisis’, Living Marxism issue 108, March 1998, http://radioislam.org/historia/zionism/LM108_Iraq.html
[44] For example: Jason Walsh, ‘Google: an anti-capitalist scapegoat?’ Spiked, 16 Mar 2010, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/8316/; Jason Walsh, ‘Ireland’s bizarre war on blasphemy’, Spiked, 20 July 2009
[45] For more on the RCP and LM, see http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php/Forth; http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php/LM
[46] Institute of Ideas, SpinProfiles, http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php?title=Institute_of_Ideas#Origins_and_Activities
[47] Dr Andrew Calcutt, Battle of Ideas website, http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/site/speaker_detail/372/
[48] The future of forth: an announcement: updated, Forth, http://forth.ie/index.php/content/article/the_future_of_forth_an_announcement acc 3 May 2010
[49] Pauline Hadaway, Categorising artists, Spiked, 26 Feb 2004, acc 3 May 2010; Culture Pauline Hadaway, Wars: Fringe benefits in Belfast? LM, 146, October 1999. http://web.archive.org/web/20000605125846/www.informinc.co.uk/LM/LM122/LM122_CW_Hadaway.html

[50] James Heartfield, articles from Living Marxism online, listed on the website: http://www.heartfield.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/lm.htm
[51] Index of contributors Thu 08 Oct, 2009, forth website, http://forth.ie/index.php/content/article/index_of_contributors/ acc 3 May 2010 ; Spiked people, Spiked, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/about/article/335/ acc 3 May 2010; articles by Rob Lyons, Spiked, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/author/Rob%20Lyons/ acc 3 May 2010
[52] Battle of Ideas 2007 festival, ‘Brendan O’Neill’ http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/site/speaker_detail/84/
[53] Patrick West, “Why everyone laughs at Canada”, Spiked, 5 Mar 2010, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/8278/
[54] Patrick X West, Patrick West blog, http://patrickwest1974.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-spiked-march-25-2010.html
[55] Philip Hammond, “Al-Qaeda: what’s the big idea?”, Spiked, Issue 25, Jun 2009, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_article/7082/; Philip Hammond, “The war liberals love to love”, Forth, 22 Mar 2010, http://forth.ie/index.php/content/article/the_war_liberals_love_to_love
[56] Timandra Harkness, “What on Earth is the UK Space Agency for?”, Spiked, 6 Apr 2010, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/8501/; Timandra Harkness, “I want to be alone”, Forth, 3 May 2010, http://forth.ie/index.php/content/article/i_want_to_be_alone
[57] James Heartfield ‘James Heartfield (Difference between revisions)’ SourceWatch
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=James_Heartfield&diff=next&oldid=55952
[58] Preparing for power: the programme of the Revolutionary Communist Party, 1983, London: Junius. 44p.
[59] James Heartfield ‘Can David Cameron Close the Deal?’  New Geography 04/28/2010 http://www.newgeography.com/content/001539-can-david-cameron-close-deal
[60] For Example: Ann Bradley Opinion: Penalising baby-fathers LM 122, July-August 1999 http://web.archive.org/web/20000308041114/http://web.archive.org/web/20000308041114/www.informinc.co.uk/LM/LM122/LM122_Ann.html;
[61]  See the contents page for LM 124, October 1999: http://web.archive.org/web/20000309053651/www.informinc.co.uk/LM/LM124/index.html
[62] James Heartfield ‘Agribusiness and its helpful critics’ LM, 124, October 1999http://web.archive.org/web/20000309024936/www.informinc.co.uk/LM/LM124/LM124_Heartfield_Agri.html
[63] Will Deighton ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ LM, 124 October 1999 http://web.archive.org/web/20000116080047/www.informinc.co.uk/LM/LM124/LM124_Heartfield_Timor.html
[64] From: James Heartfield
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 10:20:17 -0000  To: Claire Robinson

Subject: Re: Spinprofiles
[65] Sourcewatch ‘Talk:James Heartfield Deletion of crucial information’
17:16, 22 Dec 2004 (EST) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Talk:James_Heartfield#Deletion_of_crucial_information
[66] Bob Burton ‘Talk:James Heartfield’ Sourcewatch 14:32, 23 Dec 2004 (EST) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Talk:James_Heartfield&diff=56096&oldid=56095
[67]  List of all posts by user ‘82.35.83.89’ [James Heartfield] http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Special:Contributions/82.35.83.89 user ‘James Heartfield’, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Special:Contributions/James_Heartfield
[68] James Heartfield (Difference between revisions) Revision as of 11:39, 1 December 2008 Revision as of 13:27, 23 December 2008
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Heartfield&diff=next&oldid=255186883
[69] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Heartfield&diff=next&oldid=307933654
[70] http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_Heartfield&diff=next&oldid=321561306
[71]  Wikipedia ‘Autobiography’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Autobiography
[72] Wikipedia ‘Conflict of Interest’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest

Comments (6)

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  1. bellacaledonia says:

    Not an attempt at a smear Jason, just reproducing content which shines a light in a dark corner. Your response on pen-names lacks credibility. The LM Networks extensive use of false or ‘cadre’ names is part of their deeper attempt to hide there own funding and misrepresent their own actions. This has been well documented over years.

    1. Jason Walsh says:

      Even if you’re correct about pen names, funding or anything else it has nothing to do with either me or forth. forth was launched on October 8, 2009 by me, not anyone else.

      How is it not a smear? You headline this blog as the “LM Network in Ireland”. If the “LM Network” is in Ireland it certainly has nothing to do with me.

      You are repeating and adding to baseless rumours and doing so on very shaky ground.

      It’s perfectly clear that the initial article contained inaccuracies which have been corrected (now that my attention has been drawn to them) but it beggars belief that just because I publish something I am suddenly represented as part of some Byzantine conspiracy.

      As I have already stated, I don’t know the exact truth or basis for any of this and I don’t really care.

      Is 3AM magazine an LM front? Is Bella Caledonia? Give me a break – this is stupid beyond belief.

      As for pen names, who the hell are you? I don’t see your name on this post.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        For some more details on the LM group’s use of cadre names go here: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=LM_group

        Who am I? I am Mike Small, one of the editors and contributors to Bella Caledonia.

        You can read previous artiles by me on LM here: http://www.variant.org.uk/24texts/lmnetwork.html

        or by Monbiot here on the links to the far right: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/1998/11/01/far-left-or-far-right/

        The LM network has never been transparent about its funding. Not one of its myriad organisations provides a breakdown of all
        funders and how much they have provided. We do know, however, that they are funded by some of the same corporations that fund the right wing think tanks that are dedicated to obscuring the damage that corporations do to the environment, human rights and democracy. For example, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer has funded both Spiked and the Institute of Ideas. As well as funding the LM network, Pfizer also funds a wide range of free market think tanks such as the US-based Competitive Enterprise Institute and Cato Institute, the Netherlands-based Edmund Burke Foundation, the Brussels based Centre for the New Europe (which also does work on climate funded by Exxon), and the UK’s Social Market Foundation. Pfizer’s bosses fund these organisations for the same reason they are part of one of the most important global corporate lobby groups, the International Chamber of Commerce – to safeguard their licence to make profit.

        Pfizer also funds the American Council on Science and Health, a
        deceptive front group,30 and two organisations with which the LM network has connections, the Science Media Centre and Sense About Science. Both are engaged in managing debate about scientific issues. The obvious evidence-based conclusion is that all these organisations are useful to Pfizer’s corporate strategy.

        Other corporations and corporate lobby groups that have funded the LM network are BT, Cadbury Schweppes, IBM, Novartis Orange, O2, The Mobile Operators Association and the Society of the Chemical Industry. This kind of funding makes it look as if the LM network is a collection of lobbying or PR outfits.

        Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest lobby firms also fund the
        network. Hill and Knowlton is one of the most controversial
        lobbying and PR firms in the world, having famously been behind the deception on the incubator baby story in Kuwait in 1990/91. It also worked for a long list of controversial corporations, including some from the oil, tobacco, pharma, fast food, and GM industry. It worked too for repressive regimes, including Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Morocco, Turkey – and China after the Tiananmen square massacre. Along with PR firm Luther Pendragon (which has worked for the Hinduja brothers, Macdonalds, Pepsi, the GM industry and others), Hill and Knowlton has put up cash for LM network events.

  2. Jason Walsh says:

    All of which is very interesting but *again* has nothing to do with me. Ask Leigh French or Dan Jewesbury, whom I presume you know because you – like me – have written for Variant!

  3. Jason Walsh says:

    All of this LM hunting always struck me as weird and sinister. More so now that it – inaccurately – has been dropped on me.

  4. MikeH says:

    Your link to Spinwatch (http://www.spinwatch.org.uk) needs amending to: http://www.spinwatch.org

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