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« Subsidy farming | Main | More on CEMP »
Monday
Dec222008

Extracting the Michael

More fun and games on the BBC/CEMP front. In the comments thread behind the last post, a visitor identifying himself as a former BBC exec has some interesting insider views on someone else who might have been the guiding hand behind the CEMP seminars. I've taken the liberty of reposting the comment in full so that readers can form their own opinions.

I (an ex-BBC exec) have attended a number of BBC "seminars" over the years. It seems that the climate change one may have been very similar to the most recent I attended, which was about the development of broadcasting in Africa (when I was chief exec of an organisation developing psb in Africa).

The idea was to help forge a strategy between "interested organisations". Those, it turned out, were almost entirely from the NGO or DFID sector, most of whom held views entirely in keeping with then government policy linked (in turn) to Bob Geldof/U2/Bono. My own organisation favoured a much more market led (as opposed to aid) approach - but surprise, surprise, the overhwelming majority there weren't interested.

I should add that I only got to attend the seminar by using old contacts - the first I knew the event was taking place was two days before. So I and my capitalist organisation only got in by gate-crashing.

My main point is that my guess is that the climate change seminar followed exactly the same lines - probably with almost the same cast of people present (ie from Oxfam, WWF, etc). It's the BBC hearing what it wants to hear via people who are government supporters and left-liberal think tanks/NGOs.

This part of th BBC was run by Michael Hastings, their head of "corporate social responsibility", now Baron Hastings of Scarisbrick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Hastings,_Baron_Hastings_of_Scarisbrick). He has since moved on but he set the tone and tenor for this part of the BBC's operations. Michael now sits as a cross bencher in the House of Lords, but all his sympathies lie in the green/NGO arena and he is firmly in the NuLabour inner circle (I know him reasionably well, having once employed him).

There is not much of interest about Lord Hastings on the web - he appears to have left the BBC shortly after the seminar, apparently because his elevation to the peerage was deemed incompatible with his position - it remains unclear precisely why it took the BBC nine months for them to work that out. He has lectured a number of times on climate change. He's now head of corporate social responsibility at KPMG.

Interesting stuff. I shall have to work out how to follow this up.

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Reader Comments (4)

Following up on the Michael Hastings trail, his apparent climate change fervour is printed all over the KPMG website.

The section on corporate social responsibility, for example, contains the following homily (credo?):

Last year KPMG announced its support of The Prince’s Rainforests Project, which was established in 2007 by HRH, The Prince of Wales. The project aims to draw people together from governments, businesses and NGOs to find practical solutions to slow tropical deforestation and combat climate change ahead of the critical United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009. KPMG has committed to use its expertise and international footprint to the Project in bringing deforestation up the climate change agenda by engaging with the environmental media as well as corporate and city audiences (.http://www.kpmg.co.uk/about/csr/environment/index.cfm)

It looks very like his lordhsip is implementing the beliefs and "opinion forming" techniques he learned at dear old auntie in a wider arena. KPMG is doubtless making fat returns out of advising companies on climate change "strategy" and it looks like he's at the forefront of that charge.

A leopard doesn't change his spots!
Dec 23, 2008 at 5:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Horbury
At the risk of becoming incontinent on this topic, another link between Hastings and the BBC (in his new role) is that KPMG has long been one of the corporation's (and the government's)favourite consultants. They were commissioned, for example, to investigate the BBC's impact on the online market, and - surpirse, surprise - largely gave the BBC's massive imperialism in this field a clean bill of health (ttp://www.culture.gov.uk/images/consultations/KPMGExecutiveSummary.pdf).

My guess is that although Michael has formally left the BBC, the job for him at KPMG was at least parly engineered by his old employers and that, behind the scenes, he's still exerting a powerful influence on the BBC's corporate atttiude to issues such as climate change.

He is probably too discreet to have attended the seminar on climate change, but what's the betting he had a big say in pulling it together?
Dec 23, 2008 at 7:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Horbury
It's all possible, but I would say it's speculation at the moment. There are some interesting issues on whether the BBC's CSR agenda has lead to them becoming green advocates, which I think need addressing.
Dec 23, 2008 at 9:34 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Dec 23, 2008 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlanB

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