Bannon, Grossart and Charlotte

As we await the arrival of Steve Bannon in Scotland, and denounce BBC Scotland BBC News for inviting him, it’s worth remembering the last time he came, and the background to that trip.

In November 2016, senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi said of President-elect Trump’s decision to appoint Bannon: “There must be no sugar-coating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump Administration.”

In December 2017 he was invited to a secretive gathering of the think-tank Scotland International Ltd (SIL) in Gleneagles by Sir Angus Grossart (standing in the photo right). On this trip he also met Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg to discuss developing their political agenda.

Bella can reveal that the pixelated people are Financial Times editor Lionel Barber (on the left) and ex head of Goldman Sachs International and chairman of the Brookings Institute John Thornton (on the right).

But Grossart’s role in this is worth exploring, as well as being chair of the Scotland International he is also chair of Charlotte Street Partners. Grossart works alongside managing partners and founders Andrew Wilson and Malcolm Robertson (the son of former Scottish secretary Lord Robertson) as well as Kevin Pringle and Chris Deerin.

Charlotte Street Partners have lobbied on behalf of Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers in Scotland, as well as being involved in the campaign to bring fracking to Scotland, working on behalf of Cluff Natural Resources (CNS).

So far so predictable.

But why are Lionel Barber and John Thornton so shy?

You may want to shmooze and chat with the likes of Steve Bannon, but he’s far too toxic for you to actually want that to be in the public realm.

So as we prepare to welcome Bannon – and to stand up to fascism and the alt-right here and in America  – it’s worth noticing that the elite of Scottish politics and business had no such qualms about supping with him.

The “BBC invited Bannon” may fit the anti-beeb narrative, but so too did the chair of the establishment Scotland’s key think-tank, which is closely connected to the SNP.

Nicola Sturgeon has rightly withdrawn from the event stating that she will not be part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far right, racist views, but Grossart, Barber and Thornton were more than happy to share a platform.

Bannon’s contribution if it goes ahead, is unlikely to be especially controversial.

As David Mitchell has written:

“As part of his current quest to unite the nationalist right around Europe he ensures his own rhetoric stays within broadly acceptable limits. He bemoans the inability of the liberal elite to cope with the worst excesses of globalisation. He rallies against immigration. He calls for curbs on the power of the tech giants while he was himself a senior board member of Cambridge Analytica.

The solution Bannon proposes is a reworked nationalism, where the nation is re-established as the largest organisational structure. Countries take care of their own people and their own interests. Any supranational structures, be they corporations or governmental bodies (like the EU), are to be dismantled, diminished, and greatly reduced in power and influence. These “common sense” proposals are designed to appeal to the many who’ve been left behind by globalisation, or those who feel threatened by immigration. The parties of the far right see these policies as the ideal Trojan horse for their own long-held racist, nationalistic, authoritarian views. And it’s within these parties Bannon can also find sympathy for his true beliefs, using their new found influence as a platform for his own apocalyptic ideology.”

Scotland International and Charlotte Street Partners are the buckle between business and politics in Scotland, the lobbying powerhouse that likes to elide the key players to their common interests. As they pander to the far-right they share the same liberal shibboleth that everything is okay in the “marketplace of ideas” and all that is at stage here is “freedom of speech” – a quaint notion being ruthlessly exploited by forces that would extinguish it without a second glance. This is part of the new wave of establishment fake populism.

Sign the petition against Bannon’s presence in Edinburgh here.


Comments (2)

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  1. Craig P says:

    Thanks for bringing attention to these links Mike, very interesting.

  2. Graeme Purves says:

    Isn’t it lovely that Vladimir Putin has awarded Sir Angus Grossart the Pushkin medal for his services to ‘Russian – British cultural co-operation’! Perhaps Sarah Smith can look forward to a similar accolade?

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