Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Right is wrong, but sometimes so are the good guys

This (see http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/overseas-aid-pays-dividends-1-5371644 ) had the usual halfwits grumbling for their usual reasons.
The irony is that anyone with even a basic grounding in developing world affairs should have spotted the real joke. As no-one has, maybe I should point it out.
The SCFMC started as a speculative money spinner between the Isle of Man Business School and the Said Business School in Oxford, neither of whom are noted as philanthropists, caring ‘world citizens’ or ( to be blunt about it) honest and open in their affairs. Neither come anywhere near the standards of transparency and plain dealing expected of the international business community.
For off-island readers, the Isle of Man Business School project was intended to be the island’s ‘university’ – at least for a finance sector that was finding it hard to recruit suitably educated locals and a government which wanted to avoid the cost of a UK or US university education for anyone driven enough to get it, come back and put their skills to work here. As might be expected of a project ‘suggested’ to government by a property speculator who once boasted of friendships with Richard Nixon and Billy Graham, it went wrong from day one. Much to the amusement of locals, the wheels really fell off when it emerged that the academics didn’t understand elementary book-keeping and the whole thing was losing money hand over fist.
For the general benefit of anyone who doesn’t follow skulduggery in the international arms trade, the Said Business School owes much to the benevolence of Saudi-Syrian business magnate Wafic Said. His £23 million contribution came at about the time that the UK government decided it was not in the country’s interests to investigate allegations of large-scale bribery when the UK defence industry did so nicely out of arms sales to the Saudis. Take, for example, the Al Yamamah affair (in which, incidentally, a former Isle of Man lieutenant governor played quite a hand).
The investigations Blair decided against had been pretty much carried out already by Campaign Against the Arms Trade in the UK (despite a shoestring budget and denial of much likely material on ‘national security’ grounds ). Since then, the US government has also looked into it, and being firstly privy to most of the likely evidence and secondly not about to take ‘No’ for an answer from some piss-ant poor relation, it got the stuff CAAT could not and trashed off the UK arms trade and their Whitehall chums like some ailing banana republic.
Oh, another funny thing. Having originally checked out the Wafic Said stuff years ago, I just rechecked a couple of things and noticed how heavily his Wikipedia entry has been re-edited.
Oddly enough, Bell-Pottinger (which brokered talks between the Saudis and Downing Street when the bribery investigation was mooted) offers a service to contemporary clients which monitors Wikipedia, Google and similar internet services to stop awkward stuff appearing about tyrants and major league scumbags in general.
Even odder, the Global Poverty Project uses Bell Pottinger too. Nobody in my circle of good guy anti-sleaze hounds (e.g. CAAT, Transparency International, Corporate Watch, Oxford Research Group… ) knows why.  Hopefully it is just that the GPP is as astonishingly na├»ve as some supporters – folk whose hearts are definitely in the right place but whose research comes from La-La Land.

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