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Roibeard Dálach Ó Seachnasaigh
A report on the dearth of freedom and equality in modern Britain “Think like a wise man but express yourself like the common people”
William Butler Yeats
In appearance, at least, the United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy under the rule of law and with a tradition of freedom and respect for civic rights going back to the Magna Carta. The reality, however, is that Britain is ruled by what can best be described as a mafia-clique that exerts its influence largely from behind the scenes, using a variety of different channels and levers - “twilight politics” as the late Simon Regan referred to it as. An entrenched and wholly undemocratic structure through which all power is exercised, and which retains an effective veto on major policy agenda, largely overshadows the authority of the elected government. Here, I highlight and summarise these official and unofficial centres of power and name the individuals, where it is appropriate, who are part of them. The public continue to be disenfranchised and manipulated, egregiously, by a group of unaccountable, self-serving oligarchs who line their pockets, circumventing both justice and the law, whilst protecting their vested interests under the perverse veneer of respectability and propriety.
WHAT IS THE ESTABLISHMENT? The Establishment is a term coined by Henry Fairlie and used to refer to the traditional ruling class and the structures of society and institutions that they control. “By the 'Establishment', I do not only mean the centres of official power—though they are certainly part of it—but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised.” For many, particularly the socially pretentious and intellectually insecure, the Establishment conjours the notion of the cream of high society, whom we should attempt to rub shoulders with. Peter Oborne ,writing in the Spectator,claims that the “The Establishment is dead” and that it has been replaced by what he calls the “Political Class.” However, as the adage goes, the Devil’s greatest lie is that he does not exist. Whatever we wish to call it, it is manifestly clear that the Old Guard really does remain firmly in place, albeit having had to reform itself and accommodate newer liberal and metropolitan interests. The Establishment is pervasive and it is difficult to define it precisely since it lacks any formal organisation as such, being more of a network of interlocking circles of power and privilege. But it maintains a basic consensus and shared purpose in preserving the status quo that enables it to act as if it were a single entity. It is this level of control over the apparatus of the State and the machinery of Government that is the subject of discussion throughout this report.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT IN ENGLAND
The origins of the modern English political establishment can be traced back to the Norman conquest of 1066 when a closely-knit military and clerical elite from Northern France replaced but also subsumed the existing Anglo-Saxon political and legal structure that had been built up since the time of Alfred the Great and beforehand. Digger Gerald Winstanley claimed that England had ever since been subjected to the “Norman yoke”. The new and ambitious ruling class combined the opportunism and daring of their Viking forebears with Gallic panache. The Establishment has faced serious challenges over the centuries to its governance both due to internal feuding and also to popular revolt or demands for change. It is important to analyse this in its proper historical context and background. • The Harrying of the North (1069)
After the Battle of Hastings and his subsequent coronation, William of Normandy faced a major uprising against his rule in the North of England. With characteristic ruthlessness, he violently suppressed the revolt killing thousands and employing a scorched earth policy to ensure that any such rebellion never occurred again. • The Anarchy (1135-1154)
The period was marked by a succession crisis between the supporters of Stephen, and those of his cousin, the Empress Matilda. It was marked by a civil war between the ruling barons that contributed to a period of famine and misery among the peasantry known as “Nineteen Long Winters” in which thousands starved and were imprisoned. • Magna Carta (1215)
Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King (John) by a group of his subjects (the barons) in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. Preceded by the Charter of Liberties in the reign of Henry I, it marked the beginning of a shift in power from the monarchy to the aristocracy. • The Creation of Parliament (1264)
The rebellion of Simon de Montfort in 1263 helped create the first Parliament: an Anglo-Norman version of the Saxon Witenagemot. The barons reasserted their power but also invited knights and wealthy burghers to particpate in the governing of the country. The franchise would later be extended over time to include ordinary folk. • The Peasants’ Revolt (1381)
A true people’s uprising, the Peasants’ revolt of the late 14th century was a turning point in British history and a wake-up call for the feudal lords. The Black Death had ravaged England and created a chronic shortage of labour and the Government’s decision to enforce a poll tax was the spark for open rebellion against serfdom, feudalism and the ruling class in general. Jack Straw and Wat Tyler, inspired by the 2
progressive preacher John Ball, led peasant armies which seized London and proceeded to ransack the palaces of power going so far as to summarily execute the Lord Chancellor and Lord High Treasurer who were blamed for the imposition of the poll tax. The revolt ended in failure after the King with promises of concessions that were later revoked tricked the peasants and the leadership was arrested and hanged. • The War of the Roses (1453-1485)
The war between the Houses of Lancaster and York was an internecine conflict that decimated the ranks of the aristocracy and helped revive the power of the monarchy. • The Civil war (1641-1649)
The reign of Charles I saw the complete return of absolutist monarchy that rankled the political elite and Parliament in particular. The roundhead general Oliver Cromwell had the sovereign tried and executed and proceeded to turn England into a military dictatorship and theocracy. The failure of the commonwealth led to the restoration. • The Glorious revolution and the Enlightenment (1688)
The arrival of William of Orange was a bloodless affair that also laid the foundation for constitutional monarchy enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The revolution also marked the beginning of the enlightenment and the rise of intellectualism. • The French revolution (1789)
The bloody republican revolution in France profoundly shocked the ruling establishment in Britain. Rather than reach out to those advocating greater reform, the authorities became defensive and crushed dissent by force as seen in the massacre at Peter’s fields (Manchester) in 1819 which was subsequently referred to as “Peterloo.” • The Industrial revolution (18th/19th centuries)
The agrarian and industrial revolutions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries caused a population and economic explosion that profited the merchant/industrialist class and paved the way for a widening of the franchise and right to vote and sit in Parliament. The process was set under way with the successful passage of the Reform act in 1832. • The Russian revolution – the aftermath of WWI (1917-1919)
Victorious in war, the Establishment faced mass unrest as returning soldiers calling for greater change, inspired by the success of the Bolsheviks in Russia, clashed with security forces. It coincided with a crisis in the Empire that resulted in the Amritsar massacre of 1919 and similar bloodletting in Ireland that broke free from British rule. • Poll tax riots (1990)
The riots in London over the proposed community charge (poll tax) were tumultuous, if short-lived. The police lost control of the situation and were prepared to call in armed response teams. The riots brought about the ousting of Margaret Thatcher. 3
In short, history has shown that the British establishment has proven to be very versatile and flexible, making necessary reforms to accommodate major changes in society and in the economy. However, it has doggedly preserved its essential structure and presiding influence either through manipulation and, where necessary, ruthless repression. As well as drawing from the ranks of the nobility, the Establishment has always allowed freemen to join its ranks. In part, this stemmed from the Crown’s wariness of the power of the landed gentry, as so evidently seen in the reign of Louis XIV of France, and the need for competent officials, soldiers and administrators. The major difference between Britain and other European states is that on the Continent the old ruling elites and Ancien Régimes were destroyed either due to revolution or war (France, Germany, Russia etc), whereas all the evidence points to continuity and the survival of the same political establishment in Britain. In the case of Russia, one should note that although the Soviet empire collapsed when the Iron Curtain came down, the Kremlin elite remained largely intact having dispensed of its communist ideology and having metamorphosised itself into a nationalist one. Vladimir Putin is a perfect example of this transition and transformation of the ruling elite and the “New Russia” has indeed retained much of the authoritarianism of the previous regime. Is the elected Government at all relevant? Yes and no. Yes, in that it has the means to debate and formulate policy but no in that is circumscribed and constrained since it always has to work within the framework and confines that the Establishment imposes upon it. Implementation is crucial to any policy decision and, if it is to achieve its objectives and govern the country effectively, the support of the unelected elite, however begrudging, is essential. Ramsey Macdonald and the Labour party found this out when they took office in 1924, as did Harold Wilson who was all but forced out in 1976. Clement Attlee was more successful since he pushed through a radical and ambitious program that included nationalisation, the creation of a welfare state, reform of the House of Lords and the granting of independence to India. However, the Establishment seems to have been resigned that some of these changes were necessary to alleviate the dire post-war shortages that affected a restless working class and that Britain’s hold on her dominions was untenable. Both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair have pursued reforms that may have rankled some in the Establishment but which nevertheless did not meet outright opposition. I shall now outline the principle centres within which the Establishment operate:
1. THE ROYAL COURT The palace courtiers and officials to the monarch and the royal family, “the men in grey” as the Duchess of York referred to them as, are more influential in the running of the country than it may appear. They control the affairs of the royals who are little more than prisoners to their whims. The Crown is an all-encompassing institution upon which the Establishment depends for its survival and which it also realises is popular among the general public, representing a thousand years of British history and tradition, past experiments with republicanism proving to be unsuccessful. But what the shadowy figures among the palace staff do is to misuse this popular support for the British monarchy and genuine affection for Her Majesty the Queen in order to advance their own interests and agenda. While the British monarch has steadily been reduced to that of a symbolic figurehead, he/she is still the head of state and that
includes responsibilities that are not entirely inconsequential. Britain’s unwritten constitution affirms that the head of state possesses executive power but that the exercise of this power is done on the advice of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. This, however, leaves ample room for manipulation and intervention by the royal court. The man who coordinates the relationship between the Government and the monarch is currently Christopher Geidt whose office is that of the private secretary to the sovereign. Sir Miles Hunt-Davis and Sir Michael Peat serve the Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh as their respective secretaries. Other important personnel within the royal administration include the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, Charles Gray, who handles the reception of foreign dignitaries and the Lord Chamberlain, Earl Peel, although his duties are more of a ceremonial nature, the person in charge of his office being Andrew Ford who serves as comptroller. Although Geidt, a graduate of Cambridge University, is not of noble extraction he is very much the brain behind the palace machine, endowed with a global perspective having worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as the U.N. Finally, there remains the controversy of the royal prerogative that, among other things, includes the sovereign’s role as commander-in-chief which is actually absolute but in practice only notional. These prerogative powers were originally exercised by the monarch acting alone, and do not require parliamentary consent and there may be situations in which the monarch could choose to exercise the Royal Prerogative without any advice which would have the potential to trigger a constititutional crisis. It also can serve as a sidestep for the Cabinet. During the run up to the Iraq invasion of 2003, PM Tony Blair indicated that should Parliament not approve of invasion, he would not formally advise the Queen to exercise the Royal Prerogative. This issue ,and its usage under the Constitution, thus affords the royal court a great deal of influence when liasing between the sovereign and the elected government.
2. THE HOUSE OF LORDS
There could nothing more preposterous an institution in the modern era than the House of Lords, a feudal legacy from medieval times. It consists of an assortment of unelected life and hereditary peers as well as senior clerics all under the leadership of Baroness Royall. Most of the life peers tend to be former politicians and civil servants. Astonishingly, members of the House such as Lord Waddington and Lord Fraser take part in parliamentary committees concerning spreading democracy in other countries in the world. While the elected House of Commons dominates the government, members of the Lords can and do become part of the Government itself. Lord Malloch-Brown at the FCO and Lady Scotland of Asthal, the attorney-general are two notable examples. Also the Leader of the House of Lords is guaranteed as a seat at the Cabinet table. Formerly the highest court in the land, the House's jurisdiction is essentially limited to the hearing of appeals from the lower courts. But the Lords do have oversight of the lower chamber and can reject bills albeit only for reconsideration. They can also propose their own legislation and hold investigations into Government conduct. Therefore, while the Lords is not the force it was prior to the Parliament Act of 1911, it still retains considerable clout and cannot be simply ignored by the elected members of the Commons. It affords the Establishment some measure of supervision over the Government that is neither benign nor necessary.
3. THE JUDICIARY
The judicial system in the United Kingdom is corrupt as much as it is anachronistic. For all their pomposity and high-mindedness, along with their robes and regalia, judges can be seen collectively as comprising a “wigged mafia”, many of whose allegiance to the Crown is suborned to the Masonic oath. According to a voluntary survey conducted by the Government in 1998, more than 200 judges and over 1,000 magistrates in the UK owned up to being freemasons. The real figure is almost certainly much higher. Senior barrister Elizabeth Woodcraft says lack of knowledge remains a problem surrounding the masons and their ties to the judiciary1. There are well-founded suspicions about judges use Masonic connections to advance their careers within the hierarchy. Woodcraft goes on to say that “What we do know is that organisation requires loyalty and adherence to a set of values that may be in conflict with the values and the requirements of justice." Judges in the UK are unelected and largely unaccountable. They are frequently accused of being out of touch and totally unrepresentative of society as a whole. Even the Government has waded in on this expressing its frustration that judges are aloof and do not live in the real world. Previously chosen in secret by the Lord Chancellor’s department, an “independent” Judicial Appointments commission has been set up by the Government to try and rectify this. A look at the members of the panel, however, reveals that this is nothing other than a whitewash since all are part of the same tainted judicial system. Moreover, the body has no power to remove judges who are deemed as being incompetent, dishonest or biased – as many of them no doubt are. Very few if any can be removed – they simply serve on the bench for life. The constitutional reform act of 2005 attempted to separate the judiciary from the House of Lords although the new Supreme Court is hardly a major departure from the previous set up being presided over by Lord Phillips and several justices of the old high courts. It would be foolish to dismiss the Masonic influence on the British judiciary as mere conspiracy talk. The Inns of Court are located at the very site of the “Temple”- a building founded in London by the Knights Templar (a secretive and elite order of warrior-monks) and which was originally their precinct in London named in honour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Middle Temple Hall and the Inner Temple Hall were originally the two sections of this medieval site. The Inner Temple, indeed, was first recorded as being used for legal purposes when lawyers' residences were burned down in the Peasant’s revolt. The crusading Templars are widely believed to have brought over occultic ideas about spiritual alchemy and sacred geometry from the East which would later become the cornerstone of masonic beliefs and rituals. They also established the beginnings of the European banking network which links the Bench the governing judicial body), headed by Lord Chief Justice Judge (yes, that is his surname), by historical association with the financial centres in the City of London. In short, there is every reason to suspect that the leadership of the judiciary is thoroughly compromised by interests and affiliations to secretive societies. Contol of the courts, moreover has allowed the Establishment to forgo certain laws, notably the official ban on foxhunting for which the Crown prosecution service has not hauled anyone before the stand despite numerous reported violations. They also serve to protect members of the Establishment, especially those in the security forces, from punishment when they break the law of the land.
4. THE CIVIL SERVICE
The British civil service, centred at Whitehall, is the permanent bureaucracy of Crown employees that supports HMG in the function of administration; it is an extremely important institution, far more so than in other countries. Governments and politicians come and go, but civil servants remain, and ministers depend on and consult with civil servants on how to implement policy decisions. Since many elected MPs have little experience of actual government, it is up to unelected civil servants to inform and counsel them. While the recruitment and selection process for the civil service is supposedly transparent and non-discriminatory, the reality is that there is an institutionalised predilection for Oxbridge graduates as well as those from the leading public schools. A report in 1968 by Lord Fulton uncovered this. This serves the purpose of maintaining a certain genre of personnel with a particular political outlook, although the service likes to project an entirely false image of neutrality and objectivity. Yes Minister, a parody of ministers and top civil servants, is nonetheless a good insight into the world of top bureaucrats and how they influence politicians. Heading the civil service is the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the former press officer to John Major and one of the few senior officials from the Tory years who joined Gordon Brown's inner circle after Labour was voted in. This is a perfect example of how the Establishment believes it can manipulate the Government whatever the political party in office is. Assisting the Prime Minister are his principal private secretary Jeremy Heywood and chief of staff Stephen Carter. “Answering” to the cabinet secretary and to the their respective cabinet ministers are the powerful permanent under secretaries and mandarins of each government department. Of note are Sir William Jeffrey at the MoD, Sir David Normington at the Home office, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, closely assisted by Tom Scholar, and Sir Peter Ricketts at the Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO). Sir David in particular epitomises the demeanour of an Establishment official: Charming, erudite, intelligent but also ruthless to the core. Although the permanent under-secretaries do have a major say in both policy decision taking as well as its implementation, it is the middle-ranking tier, the deputy and assistant directors, who are the brains of the service and not really the upper echelons of the management hierarchy, and who are involved in the actual direction and implementation of policy. At the FCO, for example, although Director general Ms Mariot Leslie heads an important directorate concerning defence and intelligence, it the less visible directors working under her who run the show, men such as Simon Manley and his team. The FCO has acquired a notorious but deserved reputation for contrivance and machination and it is here that the attempted subversion and meddling in the affairs of other countries takes place. The major reason why British foreign policy has been so consistent over the last 200 years, despite the frequent change in governments, is precisely because a tightly-knit class of civil servants at the FCO have been singing from the same hymn sheet all this time. In the Middle East and South Asia, Britain is still referred to as the wily “Old Fox” since they see the same political animal today as they have in the past. As well as the bureaucratic staff, there exists a small clique of leading members of the diplomatic corps who virtually direct foreign policy for the United Kingdom; the list includes Sir Peter John Westmacott, Sir William Ehrman
and Sir Nigel Elton Sheinwald, the ambassadors to France, China and the United States respectively. A major insight into how the civil service works and how it has deceived HMG in the past was revealed three years ago by Newsnight investigator, Michael Crick2. He found that The UK had supplied Israel with shipments of plutonium, while Harold Wilson was prime minister, to enable the Israelis to make a nuclear bomb. Britain’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mike Michaels, used extensive ties at the FCO to bypass Government regulation and the Minster of Technology at the time, Tony Benn. The latter, who was shocked at the disclosure, maintains he always suspected civil servants were doing deals behind his back but he never thought they would do such a thing. "It never occurred to me they would authorise something so totally against the policy of the government." Benn concludes that it was “probably a conspiracy by civil servants and the nuclear industry to flout HMG policy.” It was thus a decision to sell nuclear materials by unelected civil servants over and above the will of the elected government of the day. This finding only scratches the surface of a web of deceit practiced by civil servants serving their own interests and those of their masters in the Establishment and the business world. Chatham House (Royal Institute for International affairs): Closely associated with the FCO is Chatham House, formerly the Royal Institute of International affairs but still under the patronage of the Queen, which has the sheer audacity to claim on its website that it represents “independent thinking.” On the contrary, it is used by the British Government and a list of corporations that fund the institute to provide intellectual justification to their actions. Its infamous Chatham House Rule, when invoked, ensures confidentiality of all meeting participants and attributing comments to them. Chatham House can be seen as the very nerve centre of the Establishment patron with a list of directors includes retired civil servants, bankers, financiers, captains of industry, former politicians and peers – a veritable Alist that includes the likes of Sir Roderic Lyne, Sir Richard Dalton and Lord Jay (who was incidentally ambassador to Paris at the time of Diana, Princess of Wales’ tragic car “accident”). Sir Robin Niblett presides over the running of the centre and has close ties to key members in the American security establishment having worked for the Centre for strategic and international studies. Chatham House put forward a deeply flawed report on the Iranian presidential election a few days after it was held on June 12th in a bid to cast doubt on its authenticity. This was part of an FCO-led plan to discredit the Iranian Government and weaken its ability to talk with the West.
5. THE MEDIA
The BBC Control of the media is also indispensable to the maintenance of power and preservation of elitist interests and structures. This is especially true of the BBC, The British Broadcasting Corporation, which is the largest news coverage enterprise in the world today, with a contingent of over 2,000 journalists broadcasting in more than 40 languages. It is, in effect, a state-licensed monopoly that is funded by a compulsory
tax – the license fee. While the BBC has tried to assert its editorial independence from the state and rejects the accusation that it is merely a tool in the service of the Establishment, it is compromised by the simple fact that it is state owned. The BBC, from its inception, has been part and parcel of the Establishment and is used as a voice by the British State to promote and defend the views and policies whatever political party is in government. Broadcaster Sir David Frost is perhaps the most obvious example of this. It was shamefully evident in the months leading up to the Iraq invasion of 2003 when BBC programs like Panorama bought the Government’s dossier on the “danger” posed by Iraq wholesale. Overall, its message is more subtle and nuanced than brazen propaganda. The BBC would defend itself against such accusations citing the Suez crisis of 1956 as a time when the corporation criticised the Eden Government’s decision to intervene without any authorisation from the United Nations, but one need only look back a few years earlier to see how the BBC was every bit the Voice of the Establishment during the crisis over the nationalisation of the oil industry in Persia under the Mossadegh premiership. Nearly 60 years later, and six months before Iran’s June presidential election, the BBC set up a Persian TV channel. Peter Horrocks (now the head of the World Service) was instrumental in this, coordinating efforts with the FCO in a bid to influence public opinion in a country the BBC recognizes as having “geopolitical importance” and at the cost of £15m to the British taxpayer. Conservative MP Philip Davies called this an attempt at “empire building”3. This is just one example of how BBC World service works with the FCO and the British State to serve the perceived interest of the latter. The ever-increasing license fee and the ever-rising salaries of BBC executives and governors are making many in the general public reconsider the worth of keeping the BBC since the bosses are no less cleptocratic than members of Parliament and their flagrant abuse of expenses. Both Sir Michael Lyons chair of BBC Trust (the corporation’s governing body) and director general Mark Thompson, a member of the Reform club, managed to up their salaries and incur a whole list of expenses4. The PRESS The British press is widely perceived as being free and independent and among the world’s fairest and most trusted. However, as anyone who knows it well, is aware that it is heavily controlled by the Establishment and seriously compromised by the fact that media groups and press barons largely own it. The press can also be subjected to Government injunctions that curtail its ability to report the facts.
i) The Times In circulation since 1785, the Times of London is very much the Establishment’s newspaper. In recent years it has been more conscious of its marketing and the commercial needs of its owner, Rupert Murdoch. Its young editor, James Harding, is a major success within the world of journalism but it is Richard Beeston, the quintessential toff and Establishment figure, and who heads up the Times’ diplomatic and foreign news team, who lends the paper much of its image. His views reflect those of the FCO and the Establishment as a whole, The Times being unashamedly biased and unobjective, and are an important way with which to gauge what the Establishment as a whole is thinking.
ii) The Guardian The Guardian is Britain’s leading reformist daily representing a left-leaning readership but also the liberal, non-conformist wing of the Establishment. Its editor, Alan Rusbridger is an example of this synthesis, as is columnist Simon Tisdall. iii) The Telegraph Called the “Torygraph” by its detractors, the paper is conservative but is surprisingly actually more critical of the hypocrisy and abuse of power of the Government and was scathing in its treatment of the scandal relating to MPs’ expenses. However, it is basically anti-reform and has a distinctly Little Englander approach. iv) The Financial Times Under the editorship of Lionel Barber and owned by the Pearson plc, the FT represents the City and the pro-free market/globalisation forces within the financial establishment. However, it offers a more balanced and reasoned perspective than The Times on international issues. The Economist Part owned by the Pearson plc and also the Rothschild banking family, and edited by John Micklethwait, the Economist is an Establishment periodical to the very core. It has been criticised for its “British class snobbery, pretentiousness, and simplistic argumentation” and “editorially constrained because so many scribes graduated from the same college at Oxford University: Magdalen College” and as a magazine that “hides the names of the journalists who write its articles in order to create the illusion that they dispense disinterested truth rather than opinion.” Recently a top Russian businessman considered suing the Economist but later retreated a source suggesting today that he may have been unaware of the high-status role the Economist occupied in the UK. "He thought he was suing some tabloid. He didn't realise he was suing the British establishment.5 "
6. GENTLEMAN’S CLUBS
“The exercise of power in Britain cannot be understood unless it is recognised that it is exercised socially” - so said Henry Fairlie. And what better place for such social exchange and networking to take place than at the secretive gentleman’s clubs in London on Pall Mall. Anyone who has taken a stroll down this famous London street gets a more acute sense of power than one does at Whitehall. The exclusive and heavily vetted membership of these clubs typically includes the aristocracy and the super-wealthy, but also a cadre of intellectuals and bourgeoisie professionals. Ladies have recently been granted full membership in some of these clubs. It is at these elitist places that honorary members , notably high-ranking polticians, can be lobbied and backroom deals are struck. Thus, in the midst of the convivial ambiance of gentlemanly civility and decorum, is the serious business of political intrigue.
i) The Athenaeum Club Secretary: Jonathan Ford According to Simon Hoggart writing in the Guardian, the club is the “British Establishment's establishment.6” Founded in 1824 and named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, it is perhaps more famous for its façade – a bas-relief frieze which inspires admiration more than anything else. It is also noted for its large library and lavish interior. The first members of the Athenaeum club were wealthy and influential intellectuals from inherited money or aristocrats. But the club also came to accept gentlemen who were renowned in their field no matter their wealth or status. A gentleman’s club that admitted members who owed their social position to intellectual achievement rather than wealth or titles was unusual in the nineteenth century. Current members of the club include civil servants, surgeons, bishops, peers, lawyers, architects, politicians (especially cabinet ministers), academics and business professionals. Despite the presence of this broad sample of society, the club is thoroughly elitist, admission is coveted, and it is certainly no place for the πολλοί. ii) Travelers Club Secretary: David Broadhead Established for travel enthusiasts in 1819, it has been described as the “quintessential English gentleman's club.” The founders envisaged a place where gentlemen who travelled abroad might meet and offer hospitality to distinguished foreign visitors. The club's honorary members include members of the British and foreign royal families, the British Foreign Secretary whilst in office, and various ambassadors to London. iii) The Reform Club Secretary: Michael McKerchar
Founded in 1836, the Reform club was originally restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832, and the many MPs and Whig peers among the early members developed the Club as the political headquarters of the Liberal Party. It is best known because of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days and also the 007 movie, Die Another Day. The current membership embraces a wide range of professions such as academics, artists, business people, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and writers. Although founded on traditional lines as a gentlemen's club, the Reform became, in 1981, the first such club in this country to admit women on equal terms. It is governed by a board of trustees and an elusive general committee that serves as a kind of politburo. Today, the club is concerned with anything but political reform. iv) The Carlton club: Secretary: Jonathan Orr-Ewing Chairman: Lord Cope The Cartlon club, formerly Tory pary HQ, has the brazeness to describe itself as the "oldest, most elite, and most important of all Conservative clubs." The Conservative party, of course, being the true party of the Establishment. v) The Royal Automobile club: Secretary: Major-General George Kennedy This exclusive club is not especially associated with any political shenanigans but is one of the most expensive as far as entrance fees are concerned, reflecting an interest in keeping out all but the wealthiest members of society.
vi) The Garrick club : Secretary: Olaf H-J Born The Garrick Club was founded in 1831 by a group of literary gentleman under the patronage of the King’s brother, the egalitarian Duke of Sussex. They announced that the Club would be a place where ‘actors and men of refinement and education might meet on equal terms’, and where ‘patrons of the drama and its professors were to be brought together’. The club thus represents the liberal and artistic elite of Britain and includes members from the media, the Royal Academy of Arts, The British Library and Museum etc and is situated right next to Covent Garden and Theatreland Other clubs includes the aristocratics White’s and Boodle’s and Brook’s, the Old Whig establishment. Also on Pall Mall is the Oxbridge club, headed by Alistair Pelser and the Army & Navy club which caters for current and former military officers.
vii) The United Grand lodge: Grandmaster: HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Secretary: Commander Michael Higham Not strictly a club, the grand lodge located in Holborn is the HQ of freemasons in the UK and is graced by a royal patron, the Queen’s cousin, who is also the benefactor of many other knightly orders (eg. the Knights of the Garter) and secret socieities to do with the Holy Grail and other pseudo-religious beliefs. What is known of Masonic initiation ceremonies closely resemble those of Cosa Nostra and the Triads and, as stated above, they have penetrated the judiciary and other state institutions.
7. THE CHURCH
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England The Queen is Head of the Church of England - a position that all British monarchs have held since it was founded by Henry VIII in the 1530s. While the importance of the Church, and Christianity in general, has markedly declined as a moral and spiritual force in British society, it still retains much of the power and privilege associated with it from medieval times but bestowing few of the benefits it provided that were equivalent of those of the modern welfare state. Moreover, the Church does still own much of the country’s land and 26 of its senior members sit in the House of Lords. While the influence of the aristocracy and clergy has declined due to changes in society and the economy, it should be remembered that, along the Crown and the aristocracy, they still own a considerable share of the land. Within the existing power structure of the Church of England the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are little more than figureheads. Rather there exists a hierocratic tetrarchy consisting of the Lord Bishop of London Sir Richard John Carew Chartres, the Bishop of Durham Nicholas Thomas Wright and the Bishop of Winchester, Michael Charles Scott-Joynt and the Bishop of Bath & Wells, Michael Charles Scott-Joynt all of whom sit in the House of Lords and hold great sway in the General Synod. In summary, the Church still retains a residual but nevertheless influential role within the Establishment.
8. THE POLICE Ostensibly the police’s job is to “serve and protect” the public and uphold law and order; however, it is more the case that the police are there to enforce the will of the Establishment – this was demonstrated in the crackdown on striking miners in the 1980s, especially the incident at Orgreave near Sheffield which left scores of people badly beaten by charging police officers. A much smaller repeat of police brutality occurred at the G20 summit protests in the City during April 2009. In addition to being heavy handed, the police force is also believed by many to be infiltrated by masons and their acolytes. It is presumed that the Bow street runners, the original police force, were freemasons themselves.The chequered black and white band that symbolises the police uniform represents two polar ends and their cosmic balance which is also reflected in the chequered floor in freemasonry halls and temples. The Metropolitan police of London is the most important force and two individuals deserve more attention than others. Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the chief of Central Operations effectively handles the day-to-day management of the force while Assistant Commissioner John Yates who deals with specialist operations. The latter is the police’s strongman and a key enforcer within the ranks of the Establishment, a modern day Richard Empson. He had to deal with the Jean Charles de Menezes affair by flying to Brazil to speak to the family of the man who was gunned down by armed officers. Commander Ali Dizaei, a former officer with the Met has alleged racism and bigotry within its ranks and its leadership. Also important to the police is Nick Hardwick, the Crown appointed chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Despite the fact that hundreds of civilians have lost their lives at the hands of the police over the past decade, not a single policeman has ever been disciplined over these reported incidents.
9. THE MILITARY
The British military represents a deeply conservative and entrenched structure within the Establishment. The public, for the most part, are very supportive of the armed forces and the media as they are seen as a source of national pride and the media are reluctant to offer any serious criticism of their behaviour. The forces come under the leadership of Sir David Richards, Chief of the General Staff, and Sir Graham Eric Stirrup, Chief of the Defence staff. The role of the British military is to defend the realm from outside threats as well as safeguard vital interests. Like the police, however, it is an instrument which can be used by the Establishment for internal repression as was so evidently the case in Northern Ireland. Top military brass were believed to have had a crucial say in the handling of the Derry rebellion of 1971-1972 which culminated in the Bloody Sunday massacre. According to the Guardian newspaper7, quoting from what it said was a secret memo by the senior officer in charge of British troops in Northern Ireland in 1972, Major-General Robert Ford, it was determined that "the minimum force necessary to achieve a restoration of law and order….was to shoot selected ringleaders.” Ford and and the paratroopers who killed 14 unarmed civil rights demonstrators in the Catholic Bogside were never punished, or admonished in any way which illustrates how the actions of the military are
protected by the Establishment. Many military professionals serve as advisors to the Government such as Lord West who is the PM’s national security aide. The Brigade of Guards The historical elite unit of the British Army, that includes the likes of the SAS, the Guards see themselves as the defenders of the Crown and are fiercely loyal to the monarch and to the Establishment that controls them. Many Guards have a family tradition of service and this further breeds a sense of devotion. The Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst Sandhurst is where aspiring young army officers receive their baptism of fire and where they are moulded and indoctrinated into what the military commandant, Major General Patrick Marriott, intends for them – to be loyal servants of the Crown and the British Establishment as a whole. Sandhurst’s regime is closely guarded to ensure that the same breed of officer emerges despite generational and social differences. RUSI The Royal United Services Institute (commonly abbreviated to RUSI) is the country’s main defence and security think tank that was founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley himself. It claims to be the leading forum in the UK for national and international Defence and Security and it most certainly is. Its chairman is the xenophobic general Sir Richard Dannatt, a man who believes it is his crusading mission to thwart the “Islamist threat” to Britain. Sir Richard is also Warden of the Tower of London, the royal keep and dungeon. The President of RUSI is none other than Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. This alone may indicate a link between freemasonry and the military, although it is the police and the judiciary that are most associated with secret societies.
10. THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES The Intelligence services consist of three branches that are detailed below. They each regard themselves as the Praetorian Guard of the British State and Crown and what little is revealed of them offers a rare glimpse of the inner sanctum of the British Establishment.The Queen is reported to have told royal butler Paul Burrell that “There are dark and sinister powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge.” Indeed not until the Cold War ended was the very existence of the intelligence apparatus admitted publicly. It is obvious to all that HM meant the murky world and personnel of the security and intelligence services. They come under the direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) that is part of the British Cabinet Office. Its head is Alex Allan, the son of Baron Allan who served in the Royal Navy. MI5/MI6 The Security Service commonly known as MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) is the UK’s counter-intelligence and security agency. Headed by Jonathan Evans (in practice just a figurehead), it is the instrument by which the Establishment spooks can
spy on the people and manipulate public opinion. On its website, it admits openly to having investigated “subversive” elements who had “infiltrated” trade unions and pressure groups, such as CND, and then goes on to deny that it is a secret/thought police. Indeed, MI5 kept files of many members of the present Government who were student activists back in the 1960s, reflecting the paranoia and insecurity felt by the Establishment especially in the wake of the Paris uprising of 1968. It admits to vetting government employees and MPs and to eavesdropping on the public “lawfully”. Until 1997, MI5 strove hard to undermine successive Labour Governments regarded as being something of a fifth column for Soviet communism. It is also widely believed that MI5, on the instigation of MI6 and the MoD, ordered the killing of Dr David Kelly after he questioned the dossier on Iraq’s alleged WMDs. Considered a threat and an embarrassment, there are those who contend that MI5 decided to silence Dr Kelly with the complicit support of the PM and members of the Cabinet. The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), colloquially known as MI6 is the UK’s external intelligence agency charged with collecting information on foreign governments, intelligence agencies and militaries. It works hand in glove with the FCO and the BBC to achieve the “foreign policy objectives” of the British State. Sir John Scarlett who is believed to be very much hands on regarding covert operations heads the service. MI6 have tried in recent years tried to keep a lid on reports about alleged assassination attempts on foreign leaders according to dissidents such as Colonel Qaddafi and Slobodan Milosevic. More controversially is the alleged role that MI6 had in the manifestly non-accidental death of the Princess of Wales with officers Nicholas Langman and Richard Spearman having executed the plot (which had all the hallmarks of an SIS operation) at the instigation of Sir Robert Fellowes and Sir Stephen Lamport, who were then in charge at Buckingham palace and Clarence House respectively, and with the likely royal assent and approval of the Duke of Kent. GCHQ The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) and “information assurance” to the Government and armed forces. Under the leadership of Iain Lobban it monitors all forms of communications including those belonging to private citizens and corporations. This naturally leads to justified accusations about invasion of privacy and misuse fo the purposes of industrial espionnage.
11. UNIVERSITIES & PUBLIC SCHOOLS As with the media, the world of academia plays a central part in the governing of the nation. All ruling elites require some intellectual support in part to claim a cerebral superiority over dissenters and Oxbridge (the universities of Oxford and Cambridge) fills this requirement, conferring a measure of educational respectability to those who intend to rule. Oxbridge can thus regarded as a finishing school for the British Establishment and has the benefits of allowing students from upper class backgrounds to enjoy the company of their peers and to network amongst each other. Although half of the intake of graduates now comes from the state sector, the fact remains that students and professors from public and independent schools dominate the university establishment. Many Oxford colleges have ties to leading public schools such as
Eton, Harrow, Winchester and Westminster. The former two predominate amongst those in the Establishment with the latter catering more for the cosmopolitan middle class. The author of this report, an Old Westminster himself, would like to point that we have produced two thorns in the side of the Establishment: a rebel in Tony Benn and a traitor in Kim Philby. Other famous independent schools include the likes of St Paul’s, Rugby, Marlborough and Charter House all of them charging exorbitant fees. Most of them also have Old Boy social networks and usually a Masonic lodge. Perhaps more so than MPs and the BBC executives most academics know how to milk the system for all it’s worth. Unscrupulous professors use taxpayer’s money, taken from research grants, to enrich themselves through their ties to civil servants who work in the organisations and quangos (of which there are over 1,000). They have the support of the Establishment for the services they provide to it as technocratic experts as scientists, sociologists and economists whom the political class depend on for their knowledge. The London school of Economics is the Government’s principle source of academic support and is very well connected with the Establishment. Also, education remains a way for people of low class and little wealth to join the ranks of the Establishment on merit. In the old days the Church was the only way for a man to advance himself and several talented individuals such as Thomas Wolsey, Henry VIII’s almoner, came from poor origins.
12. THE CITY
It is said that real political decisions, especially those pertaining to the Economy, are taken on Lombard Street in the City of London and not Downing Street. The City is not strictly part of the Establishment, rather it is an establishment unto itself. It has its own police force, its own clubs and its own Lord mayor whose seat of power is Mansion House. It is important for two simple reasons. Fistly, It generates much of the capital and indeed the nation’s wealth that means that it is a primary source of tax revenue. Secondly, the Government must depend upon the bonds sold by the City to balance the budget. The present crisis and the Government’s bail out of the banks has weakened the influence of the City’s financiers, especially as the Government has opposed the scandalous bonus schemes for top executives which the British Bankers’ Association, chaired by Stephen Green, has defended. In the midst of the financial and commercial houses that dominate the City landscape, is the Bank of England - a repository of money and also unelected and unaccountable bankers - who believe they know what is best for the country. The Governor, Mervyn King, epitomises this attitude.
This is thus a brief summary and look at the nature and extent of the British Establishment – a thoroughly entrenched and pervasive power structure that dominates political life in the United Kingdom. As mentioned previously, the Establishment has no centre, no leader and no real direction other than ensuring its own survival. It rules by virtue of the fact that its tentacles are everywhere, and it is in a position to influence the slightest development if it so wishes. But that does not necessarily mean that it is invulnerable or that it cannot be challenged.
CONCLUDING NOTE OF THE AUTHOR:
There clearly exists a semblance of democracy in modern Britain but it is fast becoming a farce. As well there being an unelected power elite, elected MPs have shown themselves to be entirely opportunistic and self-serving. The cash for questions scandal of the 1990s and the revelation of the abuse of expenses have all but exposed the charade of “representative government”. MPs represent themselves and are beholden to the Establishment and to the business community. Moreover, unless we build a genuine participatory democracy and a transparent government, there are likely to be social upheavals in the not too distant future with a disaffected underclass becoming increasingly restless. The ones who will take advantage are anarchist and nationalist groups whom are steadily gaining ground now. Much of the social and economic malaise that affects Britain is intimately linked to the non-democratic nature of the system that is failing and does not serve the British people. An increasingly educated and informed middle class needs to be empowered so that decisions are taken by the many and not the few. The Establishment is a fundamentally corrupt and rotten regime whose extirpation is an essential prerequisite for progress in the 21st century. The British people have been killed, robbed and spat on with disdain by ruling elite who are, for all intents and purposes, well-spoken rogues. A free and democratic Britain is not an unattainable pipe dream. If the people refuse to be governed, there is not a damn thing the Establishment can do – they can only send so many to the Tower. But any such civil disobedience has to be collective and sustained. If this does occur, the Establishment will be consigned to the ash heap of political oblivion where it deserves to be.
“I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.” Socrates
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