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who_runs_this_place [2011/04/20 16:40]
dan
who_runs_this_place [2016/05/03 09:52] (current)
will [Lawyers]
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 Who Runs This Place?: The Anatomy of Britain in the 21st Century by Anthony Sampson, 2005, London: John Murray Who Runs This Place?: The Anatomy of Britain in the 21st Century by Anthony Sampson, 2005, London: John Murray
 +
 +The London //​Guardian//​ published a [[http://​www.theguardian.com/​uk/​2004/​mar/​28/​britishidentity.bookextracts|4,​500 word extract of this book]] in 2004.
  
 The following "​Veracity Index" published by MORI is often referred to: The following "​Veracity Index" published by MORI is often referred to:
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 The heir to the throne is rather more outspoken, writing strongly worded letters to cabinet ministers that find their way into the public domain, but it cannot be claimed he has any pressing power. ​ Perhaps the largest practical power attached to the monarchy is that of the honours system --- and yet these are chosen principally by the PM.  As time passes they have become increasingly political, rewarding ex-cabinet ministers and favourable newspaper editors. The heir to the throne is rather more outspoken, writing strongly worded letters to cabinet ministers that find their way into the public domain, but it cannot be claimed he has any pressing power. ​ Perhaps the largest practical power attached to the monarchy is that of the honours system --- and yet these are chosen principally by the PM.  As time passes they have become increasingly political, rewarding ex-cabinet ministers and favourable newspaper editors.
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 +
  
 ======Political Parties====== ======Political Parties======
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 > ---p48, referring specifically to the Thatcher government, although almost identical comments are made about Blairite New Labour > ---p48, referring specifically to the Thatcher government, although almost identical comments are made about Blairite New Labour
  
-The conservatives had represented a patriotic collection of traditionalists that believed in institutions on all levels, from the family through the church to the monarchy and were united in their fear and distrust of socialism. ​ They favoured the empire and were sceptical of Europe, and as a party they were fiercely loyal --- as Galbraith has noted, a natural attribute of a conservative,​ not to be too quick to question its leaders and doctrines. ​ But Thatcher took power in 1979 hating institutions and preaching individualism,​ challenging the idea that loyalty was a virtue or even that there was anything to be loyal to.  She was convincing, and the party crumbled...for a while she replaced it, until she was deposed by a party that had had enough of her but had no replacement ​or the party machinery to find or unite behind one.+The conservatives had represented a patriotic collection of traditionalists that believed in institutions on all levels, from the family through the church to the monarchy and were united in their fear and distrust of socialism. ​ They favoured the empire and were sceptical of Europe, and as a party they were fiercely loyal --- as Galbraith has noted, a natural attribute of a conservative,​ not to be too quick to question its leaders and doctrines. ​ But Thatcher took power in 1979 hating institutions and preaching individualism,​ challenging the idea that loyalty was a virtue or even that there was anything to be loyal to.  She was convincing, and the party crumbled...for a while she replaced it, until she was deposed by a party that had had enough of her but had neither a replacement ​nor the party machinery to find or unite behind one.
  
-Labour on the other hand stood for an ideal of socialism, and yet was composed of an often awkward combination of middle-class intellectuals,​ often Oxbridge-educated,​ and unionists who formed the great bulk of the party and were the source of its finance. ​ They had rather different ideas of what socialism would actually mean in practice in Britain and were unable to lead a functioning economy in which the unions had enough power to create either inflation or strikes and the government had no means of controlling both at once.  The traditional values of the party disintegrated in the desperation to regain power after 18 years of conservative rule --- Blair took power using a framework of conservative and liberal policies ​with seemingly no association with a traditional socialist framework, ignoring the opinion of party members and relegating their annual conferences to a professionalized PR spectacle. ​ Membership of both parties has continuously and seriously declined since the war, each with around a quarter of a million remaining --- in both cases a party membership far out of line with party voters (the conservative party is full of elderly Eurosceptic women, labour is still full of unionists). ​ Both parties have failed to attract new members and can no longer afford to listen to what their current members think.+Labour on the other hand stood for an ideal of socialism, and yet was composed of an often awkward combination of middle-class intellectuals,​ often Oxbridge-educated,​ and unionists who formed the great bulk of the party and were the source of its finance. ​ They had rather different ideas of what socialism would actually mean in practice in Britain and were unable to lead a functioning economy in which the unions had enough power to create either inflation or strikes and the government had no means of controlling both at once.  The traditional values of the party disintegrated in the desperation to regain power after 18 years of conservative rule --- Blair took power using a framework of conservative and liberal policies ​that had seemingly no association with a traditional socialist framework, ignoring the opinion of party members and relegating their annual conferences to a professionalized PR spectacle. ​ Membership of both parties has continuously and seriously declined since the war, each with around a quarter of a million remaining --- in both cases a party membership far out of line with party voters (the conservative party is full of elderly Eurosceptic women, labour is still full of unionists). ​ Both parties have failed to attract new members and can no longer afford to listen to what their current members think.
  
 > If democracy doesn'​t have local roots, it isn't democracy. ​ You cannot have a parliamentary system based on political parties if across most of the country they have ceased to exist. > If democracy doesn'​t have local roots, it isn't democracy. ​ You cannot have a parliamentary system based on political parties if across most of the country they have ceased to exist.
 > ---Jackie Ashley, daughter of a Labour MP, 2003 > ---Jackie Ashley, daughter of a Labour MP, 2003
 +
 +
  
 ======Trades Unions====== ======Trades Unions======
  
-There is no controversy in the observation that union power has declined drastically. ​ The Labour party was originally an offshoot of union power, and during the post-war decades all governments consulted the unions regularly, understanding their power to disrupt the economy. ​ Membership peaked in 1979, after which point they underwent a dramatic decline. ​ Thatcher'​s strategies were to (adestroy Britain'​s heavy industry, the core membership of the most powerful unions, ​(bincrease unemployment, ​(cpass a raft of anti-union legislation,​ and (duse it to break the miners'​ strike in 1985, a crucial symbolic victory. ​ The tamed unions eagerly helped New Labour to power, desperate to see the Tories ​out of power, but New Labour saw them as an embarrassing impediment that would put off the middle-class voters they had gained from the Conservative party. ​ By Blair'​s re-election the unions were losing faith that New Labour was preferable to the Tories, and the leaderships of the major unions became increasingly militant, but aware of their much diminished power compared to twenty years earlier. ​ However, the current union outlook is also startlingly different ​to forty years ago: an insular, nationalistic institution distrustful of foreign workers stealing their jobs is now fiercely international,​ pro-immigration and anti-racism, ​becoming ​intimately involved in pan-European union federations. ​ They hold little power, but with their direct connection to and understanding of their large grass-roots membership, they are perhaps the institution ​best likely to democratise Britain if their influence were to increase.+There is no controversy in the observation that union power has declined drastically. ​ The Labour party was originally an offshoot of union power, and during the post-war decades all governments consulted the unions regularly, understanding their power to disrupt the economy. ​ Membership peaked in 1979, after which point they underwent a dramatic decline. ​ Thatcher'​s strategies were to [adestroy Britain'​s heavy industry, the core membership of the most powerful unions, ​[bincrease unemployment, ​[cpass a raft of anti-union legislation,​ and [duse it to break the miners'​ strike in 1985, a crucial symbolic victory. ​ The tamed unions eagerly helped New Labour to power, desperate to see the Tories ​gone, but New Labour saw them as an embarrassing impediment that would put off the middle-class voters they had gained from the Conservative party. ​ By Blair'​s re-election the unions were losing faith that New Labour was preferable to the Tories, and the leaderships of the major unions became increasingly militant, but aware of their much diminished power compared to twenty years earlier. ​ However, the current union outlook is also startlingly different ​from forty years ago: what was once an insular, nationalistic institution distrustful of foreign workers stealing their jobs is now fiercely international,​ pro-immigration and anti-racism, ​having become ​intimately involved in pan-European union federations. ​ They hold little power, but with their direct connection to and understanding of their large grass-roots membership, they are perhaps the institution ​most likely to democratise Britain if their influence were to increase. 
  
 ======The Prime Minister====== ======The Prime Minister======
  
-Unlike other chapters, this focuses exclusively on the history of Tony Blair. ​ It outlines his origins, as a religious, apolitical Tory-sympathising lawyer ​with no association with socialist politics who fell in love with and married a barrister involved in trade union law and the Labour party. ​ When standing for parliament and becoming an MP he had no serious political convictions,​ often enthralled by Thatcher'​s ideas. ​ As he rose rapidly to the top of the party, he became increasingly obsessed by power and success, and saw the adoption of many Thatcherite policies as the most efficient means to steal ground from the Tories. ​ Many in the Labour party were appalled by the notion of 'power at all costs' and the rejection of virtually all of Labour'​s long-term ideals and values, culminating in the rejection of Clause Four, which committed the Labour party to the common ownership of the means of production. ​ In power he centralised ruthlessly, ignoring parliament, ignoring the unions even more, and stealing ground from the monarchy by acting increasingly as a head of state. ​ He supported his roots, never challenging the legal profession, private enterprise or public schools. ​ He ignored human rights and American Foreign policy. ​ He continued broadly Thatcherite policies, picking up hints from Clinton as to how to sell them through the media to the middle class.+Unlike other chapters, this focuses exclusively on the history of Tony Blair. ​ It outlines his origins, as a religious, apolitical Tory-sympathising lawyer ​that had no association with socialist politics who fell in love with and married a barrister involved in trade union law and the Labour party. ​ When standing for parliament and becoming an MP he had no serious political convictions,​ often enthralled by Thatcher'​s ideas. ​ As he rose rapidly to the top of the party, he became increasingly obsessed by power and success, and saw the adoption of many Thatcherite policies as the most efficient means to steal ground from the Tories. ​ Many in the Labour party were appalled by the notion of 'power at all costs' and the rejection of virtually all of Labour'​s long-term ideals and values, culminating in the rejection of Clause Four, which committed the Labour party to the common ownership of the means of production. ​ In power he centralised ruthlessly, ignoring parliament, ignoring the unions even more, and stealing ground from the monarchy by acting increasingly as a head of state. ​ He supported his roots, never challenging the legal profession, private enterprise or public schools. ​ He ignored human rights and American Foreign policy. ​ He continued broadly Thatcherite policies, picking up hints from Clinton as to how to sell them through the media to the middle class.
  
 > 'I have taken from my party everything that they thought they believed in.  I have stripped them of their core beliefs. ​ What keeps it together is success and power.'​ > 'I have taken from my party everything that they thought they believed in.  I have stripped them of their core beliefs. ​ What keeps it together is success and power.'​
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 ======Whitehall====== ======Whitehall======
  
-It is an open question to what extent the civil service should possess an independent character and culture, acting as a counterbalance both to government and the private sector. ​ Certainly the civil service during the Second World War and in the decades that followed did have a distinctive character relative at least to the private sector and population at large: of the senior positions, approximately three-quarters came from Oxbridge and four-fifths from independent schools,​(("​[M]ost of the top civil servants came from Oxbridge, and in the twenty years from 1965 the proportion of Oxbridge graduates in the top grade of permanent secretaries actually increased, to three-quarters,​ while the proportion of new permanent secretaries from independent schools dropped only slightly from 83 per cent in 1965 to 80 per cent between 1979 and 1994." ---p118.)) although the proportion (especially at lower levels) from grammar schools rose as they became more similar to public schools after the War.  Such independence has a positive function, as an antidote to political short-termism and the over-centralisation of power, and a negative one, as in the pursuit of self-interest depicted in Yes, Minister.+It is an open question to what extent the civil service should possess an independent character and culture, acting as a counterbalance both to government and the private sector. ​ Certainly the civil service during the Second World War and in the decades that followed did have a distinctive character relative at least to the private sector and population at large: of the senior positions, approximately three-quarters came from Oxbridge and four-fifths from independent schools,​(("​[M]ost of the top civil servants came from Oxbridge, and in the twenty years from 1965 the proportion of Oxbridge graduates in the top grade of permanent secretaries actually increased, to three-quarters,​ while the proportion of new permanent secretaries from independent schools dropped only slightly from 83 per cent in 1965 to 80 per cent between 1979 and 1994." ---p118.)) although the proportion (especially at lower levels) from grammar schools rose as they became more similar to public schools after the War.  Such independence has a positive function, as an antidote to political short-termism and the over-centralisation of power, and a negative one, as in the pursuit of self-interest depicted in //Yes, Minister//.
  
-The ability of the civil service to pursue interests independent of government was certainly curtailed sharply by Thatcher, and then even further by Blair, who both saw the civil service as an unwelcome check on their power. ​ They were successful, reducing civil service numbers from 746,000 to 480,000 and selecting political allies to the top jobs in the service (a practice that Blair naturally attacked in opposition),​ with conscious respect for the American system in which such positions are politically appointed (as in most of the Third World). ​ Civil service morale and the quality of its staff certainly fell in concert with these changes. ​ The service has also moved closer in character and culture to the private sector, another transition largely begun by Thatcher, who had the unrealistic idea that the civil service rather than corporations were the main cause of relative British decline since the War, whereas in truth British corporations were no more a model of efficiency than Whitehall.(("​[B]ig businessmen,​ protected by their cartels and limited competition,​ had been as much to blame for Britain'​s decline as the civil servants. ​ When I toured both Whitehall departments and large corporations in the 1960s and 1970s I was struck by how much they resembled each other in the bureaucratic attitudes: few corporate managers showed entrepreneurial risk-taking attitudes, and many companies like BP and ICI were more grotesquely overstaffed than Whitehall ---as they revealed in the 1980s when they were ruthlessly cut back without any loss of production. ​ 'The suggestion that the Civil Service would become more efficient',​ wrote Bogdanor, 'if it adopted the practices of British management seems indeed somewhat bizarre...'"​ ---p116))+The ability of the civil service to pursue interests independent of government was certainly curtailed sharply by Thatcher, and then even further by Blair, who both saw the civil service as an unwelcome check on their power. ​ They were successful, reducing civil service numbers from 746,000 to 480,000 and selecting political allies to the top jobs in the service (a practice that Blair naturally attacked in opposition),​ with conscious respect for the American system in which such positions are politically appointed (as in most of the Third World). ​ Civil service morale and the quality of its staff certainly fell in concert with these changes. ​ The service has also moved closer in character and culture to the private sector, another transition largely begun by Thatcher, who had the unrealistic idea that the civil service rather than corporations were the main cause of relative British decline since the War, whereas in truth British corporations were no more a model of efficiency than Whitehall.(("​[B]ig businessmen,​ protected by their cartels and limited competition,​ had been as much to blame for Britain'​s decline as the civil servants. ​ When I toured both Whitehall departments and large corporations in the 1960s and 1970s I was struck by how much they resembled each other in the bureaucratic attitudes: few corporate managers showed entrepreneurial risk-taking attitudes, and many companies like BP and ICI were more grotesquely overstaffed than Whitehall --- as they revealed in the 1980s when they were ruthlessly cut back without any loss of production. ​ 'The suggestion that the Civil Service would become more efficient',​ wrote Bogdanor, 'if it adopted the practices of British management seems indeed somewhat bizarre...'"​ ---p116))
  
 > Up until the 1960s government set strict rules to delay the transition from public to private service, but the rules have been relaxed, and mandarins now switch over more swiftly into commercial jobs.  Today there are well-worn paths between Whitehall and industry... > Up until the 1960s government set strict rules to delay the transition from public to private service, but the rules have been relaxed, and mandarins now switch over more swiftly into commercial jobs.  Today there are well-worn paths between Whitehall and industry...
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 British secret services are made up of: Special Branch, MI5, MI6 and the GCHQ.  Special Branch is a component of the police force, reporting through the Home Office, established in 1883 to counter anti-British Irish groups. ​ It retained responsibility for supervising domestic political activities. ​ It remained a small force until the 1960s, but grew rapidly in response to growing political activism and infiltrated organisations like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and National Union of Mineworkers,​ and increased in scale again in the new century in response to the perceived terrorist threat. ​ The internal security service MI5 works closely with Special Branch. British secret services are made up of: Special Branch, MI5, MI6 and the GCHQ.  Special Branch is a component of the police force, reporting through the Home Office, established in 1883 to counter anti-British Irish groups. ​ It retained responsibility for supervising domestic political activities. ​ It remained a small force until the 1960s, but grew rapidly in response to growing political activism and infiltrated organisations like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and National Union of Mineworkers,​ and increased in scale again in the new century in response to the perceived terrorist threat. ​ The internal security service MI5 works closely with Special Branch.
  
-The Secrete ​Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6, is responsible for foreign intelligence. ​ It has long had an uneasy relationship with the FCO, as diplomatic postings have frequently been used as a cover for spying. ​ Relative to diplomats, MI6 enjoys a greater freedom from protocol, the ability to use less conventional tactics and a larger budget.+The Secret ​Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6, is responsible for foreign intelligence. ​ It has long had an uneasy relationship with the FCO, as diplomatic postings have frequently been used as a cover for spying. ​ Relative to diplomats, MI6 enjoys a greater freedom from protocol, the ability to use less conventional tactics and a larger budget.
  
 > Ambassadors resent reading reports from British spooks, wrapped in their own language about a '​trusted and reliable source'​ or 'a source close to the President',​ which they suspect may come from a lowly official or even a newspaper. ​ 'I suggest that the whole system of intelligence-gathering is all too often prone to producing inadequate, unreliable and distorted assessments...'​ said Sir Peter Heap, a former ambassador to Brazil, in 2003.  'The whole process is wrapped around in [sic] an unnecessary aura of secrecy, mystery and danger that prevents those from outside the security services applying normal and rigorous judgements on what they produce.'​ > Ambassadors resent reading reports from British spooks, wrapped in their own language about a '​trusted and reliable source'​ or 'a source close to the President',​ which they suspect may come from a lowly official or even a newspaper. ​ 'I suggest that the whole system of intelligence-gathering is all too often prone to producing inadequate, unreliable and distorted assessments...'​ said Sir Peter Heap, a former ambassador to Brazil, in 2003.  'The whole process is wrapped around in [sic] an unnecessary aura of secrecy, mystery and danger that prevents those from outside the security services applying normal and rigorous judgements on what they produce.'​
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 ======Lawyers====== ======Lawyers======
  
-The legal profession is more complex and obscure to the layman than most, and requires more basic explanation of its intricacies. ​ But as a whole, the political influence of the legal profession is in long-term decline. ​ Forty years ago it had much greater collective power to block change than today. ​ At the broad level, it is also worth noting the stark difference in public trust and appreciation between lawyers (who have long been seen as untrustworthy and unaccountable) and judges (who are perceived as vastly more trustworthy than, say politicians or ministers).+The legal profession is more complex and obscure to the layman than most, and requires more basic explanation of its intricacies. ​ But as a whole, the political influence of the legal profession is in long-term decline. ​ Forty years ago it had much greater collective power to block change than today. ​ At the broad level, it is also worth noting the stark difference in public trust and appreciation between lawyers (who have long been seen as untrustworthy and unaccountable) and judges (who are perceived as vastly more trustworthy than, saypoliticians or ministers).
  
 Solicitors naturally come under the most criticism from the public as they deal most directly with them.  The number of solicitors in the UK has increased alarmingly by more than four times since the early 1960s. ​ They are also the section of the profession most influenced by the American culture of enormous, escalating and illegitimate fees, particularly in the corporate sector but increasingly in billing government as the importance of human rights cases has grown. Solicitors naturally come under the most criticism from the public as they deal most directly with them.  The number of solicitors in the UK has increased alarmingly by more than four times since the early 1960s. ​ They are also the section of the profession most influenced by the American culture of enormous, escalating and illegitimate fees, particularly in the corporate sector but increasingly in billing government as the importance of human rights cases has grown.
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 Somewhat unusually when compared to other professions,​ these enormous fees do not last long, as top barristers are expected to become judges in mid-career --- involving a pay reduction of approximately seven eighths and a great increase in respect. Somewhat unusually when compared to other professions,​ these enormous fees do not last long, as top barristers are expected to become judges in mid-career --- involving a pay reduction of approximately seven eighths and a great increase in respect.
  
-> The transformation of a barrister into a judge is the most extraordinary of all professional promotions, like a tadpole becoming a frog.  The competitive ​an talkative advocate who thrives on one-sided arguments is changed overnight into the silent figure of authority whose duty is to discover the truth and reach a balanced judgement.+> The transformation of a barrister into a judge is the most extraordinary of all professional promotions, like a tadpole becoming a frog.  The competitive ​and talkative advocate who thrives on one-sided arguments is changed overnight into the silent figure of authority whose duty is to discover the truth and reach a balanced judgement.
 > ---p187 > ---p187
  
-Judges are also selected by the lord chancellor. ​ They have retained their reputations with the public much more effectively than politicians and show an independence from political pressure, but "that independence carries a serious limitation"​ --- elitism ​--- in 2003 "98 per cent were male, 84 per cent went to Oxbridge and 78 per cent had a 'full house' --- white, male, public school and Oxbridge."​((p187.))+Judges are also selected by the lord chancellor. ​ They have retained their reputations with the public much more effectively than politicians and show an independence from political pressure, but "that independence carries a serious limitation"​ --- elitism.  In 2003 "98 per cent were male, 84 per cent went to Oxbridge and 78 per cent had a 'full house' --- white, male, public school and Oxbridge."​((p187.))
  
 The institutions of juries and magistrates both predate British democracy by some distance. ​ The right to trial by jury is often considered one of the first targets of a tyrant in power, after subduing parliament. ​ "By 1998 only 7 per cent of cases were allocated to juries, but the New Labour government sought to reduce them further."​((p185.)) ​ The desirability of juries has long been debated. ​ Some lawyers look down upon their lack of professional knowledge, whereas they are popular with the public precisely because of their immunity from lawyers'​ ways of thinking, and it is not uncommon for jurists to complain about the incompetence of barristers. The institutions of juries and magistrates both predate British democracy by some distance. ​ The right to trial by jury is often considered one of the first targets of a tyrant in power, after subduing parliament. ​ "By 1998 only 7 per cent of cases were allocated to juries, but the New Labour government sought to reduce them further."​((p185.)) ​ The desirability of juries has long been debated. ​ Some lawyers look down upon their lack of professional knowledge, whereas they are popular with the public precisely because of their immunity from lawyers'​ ways of thinking, and it is not uncommon for jurists to complain about the incompetence of barristers.
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 The broad trends across most of the privatised industries were as follows: a rapid and massive escalation of board salaries, large-scale redundancies,​ increases in foreign ownership, steadily increasing consumer prices, and little improvement in consumer service. ​ The latter two seemed to some extent to be linked to the new companies'​ acquisitive focus overseas, often in America or developing markets, neglecting the domestic business. ​ The railways quickly became unsafe as private contractors botched work, and several rail crashes followed until the government cut financial support to Railtrack, effectively bankrupting the company, and replaced it with a non-profit called Network Rail.  British Airways used dirty tricks to limit competition from new rivals, clashed with staff in high-profile strikes and bribed all parliamentarians with free first-class tickets and donated funds to the Tory party until Virgin was granted new air routes. ​ Ultimately its market value fell below that of budget airline RyanAir. ​ British Aerospace, becoming BAe Systems, remained the largest arms manufacturer in the UK, and managed to retain the support of the army and the Foreign Office in closing foreign deals, whilst questions about the credentials of its customers were answered by the foreign secretary, BAe being largely beyond parliamentary scrutiny. ​ The company has routinely been involved in scandals involving bribery of foreign officials, and is (like many of the privatised companies) increasingly foreign owned, involved in foreign partnerships and targeting foreign consumers, particularly the lucrative American market. The broad trends across most of the privatised industries were as follows: a rapid and massive escalation of board salaries, large-scale redundancies,​ increases in foreign ownership, steadily increasing consumer prices, and little improvement in consumer service. ​ The latter two seemed to some extent to be linked to the new companies'​ acquisitive focus overseas, often in America or developing markets, neglecting the domestic business. ​ The railways quickly became unsafe as private contractors botched work, and several rail crashes followed until the government cut financial support to Railtrack, effectively bankrupting the company, and replaced it with a non-profit called Network Rail.  British Airways used dirty tricks to limit competition from new rivals, clashed with staff in high-profile strikes and bribed all parliamentarians with free first-class tickets and donated funds to the Tory party until Virgin was granted new air routes. ​ Ultimately its market value fell below that of budget airline RyanAir. ​ British Aerospace, becoming BAe Systems, remained the largest arms manufacturer in the UK, and managed to retain the support of the army and the Foreign Office in closing foreign deals, whilst questions about the credentials of its customers were answered by the foreign secretary, BAe being largely beyond parliamentary scrutiny. ​ The company has routinely been involved in scandals involving bribery of foreign officials, and is (like many of the privatised companies) increasingly foreign owned, involved in foreign partnerships and targeting foreign consumers, particularly the lucrative American market.
 +
  
  
 ======Corporations====== ======Corporations======
  
-The chapter contains an individual history of each of the largest twenty corporations not covered in the previous chapter.((The most interesting (and detailed) of these concern the oil companies, particularly Royal Dutch/Shell and BP, respectively the two largest British corporations in March 2003: Anthony Sampson wrote in more detail about their influence in 1975 in The Seven Sisters. ​ Particularly interesting is the very real conflict between their power and that of the British government, not merely in domestic affairs but their diplomatic influence throughout the world. ​ The oil companies notably refused to prioritise the British market when summoned by Heath during the oil crisis of the 1970s, and similarly refused Blair'​s request to break the blockade on British refineries by truckers in 2000.  However, both companies sought unsuccessfully to prevent the British invasion of Iraq in 2003:+The chapter contains an individual history of each of the largest twenty corporations not covered in the previous chapter.((The most interesting (and detailed) of these concern the oil companies, particularly Royal Dutch/Shell and BP, respectively the two largest British corporations in March 2003: Anthony Sampson wrote in more detail about their influence in 1975 in //The Seven Sisters//.  Particularly interesting is the very real conflict between their power and that of the British government, not merely in domestic affairs but their diplomatic influence throughout the world. ​ The oil companies notably refused to prioritise the British market when summoned by Heath during the oil crisis of the 1970s, and similarly refused Blair'​s request to break the blockade on British refineries by truckers in 2000.  However, both companies sought unsuccessfully to prevent the British invasion of Iraq in 2003:
  
 > [T]he two giant oil companies, for all their corporate power, could not in the end wield a decisive influence over British foreign policy. ​ As Blair prepared for war in Iraq, both Browne [chief executive of BP] and Watts [board chair of Royal Dutch/​Shell] were deeply worried about the consequences for their business, for much of their oil still depended on Arab countries, and they dreaded a return to the instability of the 1970s. ​ Yet they could not prevent Blair going ahead. > [T]he two giant oil companies, for all their corporate power, could not in the end wield a decisive influence over British foreign policy. ​ As Blair prepared for war in Iraq, both Browne [chief executive of BP] and Watts [board chair of Royal Dutch/​Shell] were deeply worried about the consequences for their business, for much of their oil still depended on Arab countries, and they dreaded a return to the instability of the 1970s. ​ Yet they could not prevent Blair going ahead.
 > ---p307 > ---p307
  
-Shell had traditionally been seen as a paragon of managerial excellence; its more recent failures and decline in standards ​is attributed by one Shell personnel manager to+Shell had traditionally been seen as a paragon of managerial excellence; its more recent failures and decline in standards ​are attributed by one Shell personnel manager to
  
 > overcautious recruitment,​ after the student revolts in 1968.  "We didn’t get the best graduates. ​ We were too arrogant, and we didn't understand the attitude shift." ​ The consequences were clearer thirty years later. > overcautious recruitment,​ after the student revolts in 1968.  "We didn’t get the best graduates. ​ We were too arrogant, and we didn't understand the attitude shift." ​ The consequences were clearer thirty years later.
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 > As Henry Fairline, the journalist who first popularised the word ['​Establishment'​],​ argued: 'Men of power need to be checked by a collective opinion which is stable and which they cannot override: public opinion needs its counter; new opinion must be tested. ​ This the Establishment provides: the check, the counter and the test'​. ​ In fact the heads of Britain'​s established institutions were far from cohesive, and common backgrounds often concealed deep rivalries and differences. ​ The old universities,​ the law lords, the Lords, the Commons and the Church all inhabited very separate worlds with different interests; and many people saw this diversity and pluralism as providing the sturdiest shield for British democracy, perpetuating an informal separation of powers... > As Henry Fairline, the journalist who first popularised the word ['​Establishment'​],​ argued: 'Men of power need to be checked by a collective opinion which is stable and which they cannot override: public opinion needs its counter; new opinion must be tested. ​ This the Establishment provides: the check, the counter and the test'​. ​ In fact the heads of Britain'​s established institutions were far from cohesive, and common backgrounds often concealed deep rivalries and differences. ​ The old universities,​ the law lords, the Lords, the Commons and the Church all inhabited very separate worlds with different interests; and many people saw this diversity and pluralism as providing the sturdiest shield for British democracy, perpetuating an informal separation of powers...
-> The law lords could deliver devastating judgements on the government'​s abuses of power, which no minister could suppress. ​ The House of Lords, for all its natural conservatism,​ could still produce original and independent views to compel the House of Commons to think again. ​ The prestige of the monarchy, with all its pomp and ceremony, prevented the prima minister from acquiring too much splendour. ​ The 'wise men' of academia could provide a much longer historical perspective than short-term politicians. ​ Civil servants were bound by their own professional standards to resist party-political corruption.+> The law lords could deliver devastating judgements on the government'​s abuses of power, which no minister could suppress. ​ The House of Lords, for all its natural conservatism,​ could still produce original and independent views to compel the House of Commons to think again. ​ The prestige of the monarchy, with all its pomp and ceremony, prevented the prime minister from acquiring too much splendour. ​ The 'wise men' of academia could provide a much longer historical perspective than short-term politicians. ​ Civil servants were bound by their own professional standards to resist party-political corruption.
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 Whether ideal or not, these institutions were able collectively to represent alternative interests and provide a counterweight to the power of government and the prime minister, and the continued assault on 'the Establishment'​ that had largely succeeded in reducing these institutions'​ power by the 1970s created a vacuum that the '​anti-Establishment'​ voices had no idea how to fill (not wanting even to admit that the Establishment'​s power was in decline, too useful a rallying cry was it proving). Whether ideal or not, these institutions were able collectively to represent alternative interests and provide a counterweight to the power of government and the prime minister, and the continued assault on 'the Establishment'​ that had largely succeeded in reducing these institutions'​ power by the 1970s created a vacuum that the '​anti-Establishment'​ voices had no idea how to fill (not wanting even to admit that the Establishment'​s power was in decline, too useful a rallying cry was it proving).
  
-> Blair was determined to reform old-fashioned institutions,​ but he seemed less sure of what to put in their place. ​ He expelled the hereditary peers from the House of Lords, but opposed ​and elected chamber. ​ He announced the abolition of the lord chancellor but had not worked out an alternative. ​ He made an issue of top-up fees for students, but gave no clear picture of what kind of universities he wanted. ​ The old guardians of institutions,​ with their self-serving rituals and resistance to self-regulation,​ were easy targets, like fox-hunters,​ for any politician in need of a popular vote.  But working out a more democratic alternative was more difficult.+> Blair was determined to reform old-fashioned institutions,​ but he seemed less sure of what to put in their place. ​ He expelled the hereditary peers from the House of Lords, but opposed ​an elected chamber. ​ He announced the abolition of the lord chancellor but had not worked out an alternative. ​ He made an issue of top-up fees for students, but gave no clear picture of what kind of universities he wanted. ​ The old guardians of institutions,​ with their self-serving rituals and resistance to self-regulation,​ were easy targets, like fox-hunters,​ for any politician in need of a popular vote.  But working out a more democratic alternative was more difficult.
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who_runs_this_place.1303317623.txt.gz · Last modified: 2011/04/20 12:00 (external edit)