Archive | On corporate governance RSS feed for this section

Lobbying, Spying & Legal Threats. Energy Giants & Gov’t Joint Efforts to Undermine Protest.

20 Feb

Update 21 February. Not just lobbying, also spying! That’s what I wrote yesterday – E.ON did not only lobby the government for harsh sentences, they both spied on the climate activists as well and exchanged intelligence between them. Mark Kennedy was just one of many players in this game. Within a few hours of publishing my blog, EDF sued @NoDashForCash £5m in damage claims for the cost of occupying a West Burton chimney. Again, there is evidence of spying, even more so, EDF France was effectively convicted for hacking  the computer network of Greenpeace UK.

The connection between the gathering of intelligence and corporate counter-strategy is at the heart of my book Secret Manoeuvres. A corporation does not spy on its critics just to know what is going on: it does so to be prepared and to defend itself!
The joint efforts to undermine protest are worrying. Adam Ramsay came to the same conclusion in his Bright Green blog today, I could not have put it better:

What we are up against is not one company. The line between corporation and state is greyer and greyer as previously public companies turn round and eat their former owners. We are up against the entwined power of a growing energy/state complex: an ever stronger network which is squeezing the democracy out of our country and the life out of our planet – or, at least, which will if we let them.

Not just lobbying, also spying!

Energy giant E.ON repeatedly lobbied the government over the sentencing of activists disrupting the company’s power plants, pressing for ‘dissuasive sentencing to discourage similar such incidents in the future’, the Guardian revealed this week .

The lobbying involved the highest echolons: the chairman and CEO of E.ON UK at the time and the then-energy secretary Ed Miliband and his staff, details released to Greenpeace under the Freedom of Information act show. The two met after the lax sentencing of eco-activists engaged in direct action at Kingsnorth,  on the day a group of environmentalists would be sentences for aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe-on Sour – yet another coal-powered station owned by E.ON.

However, this high level meeting was just the final stage of close cooperation between the energy company and the government. The signs of joint efforts to undermine environmental protest began to emerge a few years earlier. Continue reading

Dictionary of Republicanisms

28 Nov

Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.

Sometime a good project deserves some praise & PR from the like-minded. I just got very inspired after reading Katrina vanden Heuvel’s
blog in the Nation

Before we can win the great battle of ideas, we must debunk the right’s political discourse, a veritable code of encrypted language that twists common usage to deceive the public for the Republicans’ purposes. The key to their linguistic strategy is to use words that sound moderate to us but mean something completely different to them.
We decided we needed to break the code by building a Republican dictionary. For six months, thenation.com accepted suggestions from everyone who wanted to participate. Here are some of my favorites.

Continue reading

John Kenneth Galbraith rules!

21 Jun


Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.

John Kenneth Galbraith has recently written an essay that has been published under the somewhat misleading title “The Economics of Innocent Fraud”.

Dealt with in this essay is how, out of the pecuniary and political pressures and fashions of the time, economics and larger economic and political systems cultivate their own version of truth. This has no necessary relation to reality. No one is especially at fault; what it is convenient to believe is greatly preferred. (Galbraith, 2005, p2)

All of who have some interest in economic and political life should be aware of this, he warns. Continue reading

Deconstructing Public Relations

17 Jun


Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.


In his book Deconstructing Public Relations, Thomas Mickey  emphasizes the need for a critical look at what we assume to be accepted and unquestioned ways of functioning of PR in the society. He proposes cultural studies as an approach to critical theory for PR.

I have read this book to see if deconstruction as a method could be of any use for my research. Although I agree that critical theory on PR needs to be confrontational and eventually may help to raise social consciousness, I’m afraid that it is not enough to explore the practice of PR by deconstructing its public appearances only. Continue reading

Shifts in governance

17 Jun

Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.

My research has a fair amount of overlap with the Dutch Shifts in Governance NWO research programme, as it is also dealing with the control mechanisms between governments, NGO’s and private actors in national and international settings.

Last month I wrote them a letter and asked them to consider to support the last year of my research, running from September 2006 to September 2007. In order to profile myself and my work I proposed some research questions that were not included in the NWO outline. You can read them in this posting. 

Unfortunally, the NWO contact person insisted their pot of gold was empty; if I’d have a Dutch supervisor I could give it another try elsewhere. Continue reading

The Voice of Business, Hill & Knowlton and Postwar Public Relations

15 Jun

Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.

The Voice of Business makes good reading, it’s a well written history of the first and one of the most important PR consultancy firms in the United States. Originally a dissertation (in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, if I understood the acknowledments correctly) it is a well of sources and insights, leaning on scrutinous research. The book could be read as a biography of John W. Hill, the founder of the company, as well, the influence of his thinking, his ideology – and what happened when his successors decided to make, or were forced to make strategic choices away from the company’s ideology.

Much has already been written about Hill & Knowlton’s involvement in the tobacco controversies in the fifties, their work for Philip Morris and their involvement in the foundation of the Council for Tobacco Research. See for instance Source Watch.

However, I collected some inspirational details for you below. The other case study that I found very fascinating was H&K involvement in the steel strikes in the Depression years in the United States. Right from the start, H&K was involved in antiunionism, strike breaking, and associated with front organisations and armed private police. Continue reading

Campaign idea: Publish your PR

17 May


Originally posted at my blog spin.off , while working on the book.


Lingering in the back of my head is this campaign idea along the line of the Publish What you Pay initiative:

Publish your PR, (not the best name because of the restricted meaning or connotation of the term PR, but anyway.) Maybe better call it  ‘Open your agenda’ or ‘File your agenda’ or whatever.

The idea would be to set up a campaign that forces companies to publish who they hire, and what for – and vice versa force PR companies and consultancy firms to publish their client lists, including what they were hired for.

Meanwhile Publish what you Pay has started this extentive research, called ’Measuring transparency (of companies) in the Extractive Industry’. I’ve included the research outline in this posting.

I would like to investigate the possibilites of joining this campaign, this research, or hooking up with our own and propose an extention of the Publish What You Pay campaign, with any given coalition of groups, now or later. Continue reading